In our laboratory, we study the effects of drugs of abuse, particularly psychostimulants, on maternal behavior and aggression and how prenatal exposure to drugs alters the behavioral and biological development of offspring in a rodent model. Our research techniques range from behavioral to molecular, which allows us in collaboration with other scientists, to examine these issues from many different perspectives. We also collaborate on human research projects focusing on the endocrine determinants of social/maternal behavior, particularly following drug use. The interaction between oxytocin and drugs of abuse as it relates to these effects plays a prominent role in our work. Our recent projects have also included studies using an alcohol/nicotine combined gestational treatment model to examine effects on maternal behavior, offspring alcohol preference and oxytocin system changes.
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Johns, J.M., McMurray, M. S., Hofler, V.E., Jarrett, T. M., Middleton, C.L., Elliott, D. L., Mirza, R., Elliott, J.C, and Walker, C.H. (2006) Cocaine Alters Rearing and Prenatal Environment to Disrupt Non-Lactational Maternal Behavior in Juvenile and Adult Rats.
Jarrett TM, McMurray MS, Walker CH, Johns JM. Cocaine treatment alters oxytocin receptor binding but not mRNA production in postpartum rat dams. Neuropeptides. 2006 Jun;40(3):161-7.
Johns JM, Elliott DL, Hofler VE, Joyner PW, McMurray MS, Jarrett TM, Haslup AM, Middleton CL, Elliott JC, Walker CH. Cocaine treatment and prenatal environment interact to disrupt intergenerational maternal behavior in rats. Behav Neurosci. 2005 Dec;119(6):1605-18.
Johns JM, Joyner PW, McMurray MS, Elliott DL, Hofler VE, Middleton CL, Knupp K, Greenhill KW, Lomas LM, Walker CH. The effects of dopaminergic/serotonergic reuptake inhibition on maternal behavior, maternal aggression, and oxytocin in the rat. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2005 Aug;81(4):769-85.
Light KC, Grewen KM, Amico JA, Boccia M, Brownley KA, Johns JM. Deficits in plasma oxytocin responses and increased negative affect, stress, and blood pressure in mothers with cocaine exposure during pregnancy. Addict Behav. 2004 Nov;29(8):1541-64.
Johns JM, Lubin DA, Walker CH, Joyner P, Middleton C, Hofler V, McMurray M. Gestational treatment with cocaine and fluoxetine alters oxytocin receptor number and binding affinity in lactating rat dams. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 Aug-Oct; 22(5-6):321-8.
Moy SS, Nadler JJ, Perez A, Barbaro RP, Johns JM, Magnuson TR, Piven J, Crawley JN. Sociability and preference for social novelty in five inbred strains: an approach to assess autistic-like behavior in mice. Genes Brain Behav. 2004 Oct;3(5):287-302.
Lubin DA, Elliott JC, Black MC, Johns JM. An oxytocin antagonist infused into the central nucleus of the amygdala increases maternal aggressive behavior. Behav Neurosci. 2003 Apr;117(2):195-201.
Lubin DA, Cannon JB, Black MC, Brown LE, Johns JM. Effects of chronic cocaine on monoamine levels in discrete brain structures of lactating rat dams. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2003 Jan;74(2):449-54.