Donita Robinson, Ph.D.

Associate ProfessorDonita 2017
Department of Psychiatry
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies

Office | 5007A Thurston-Bowles Bldg, CB#7178
Email | dlr@unc.edu
Lab Website | Behavioral and Pharmacological Neurodynamics Lab

 

Research Interests

The brain is adept at identifying and obtaining rewards such as food, sex and alcohol. We study neural activity in corticostriatal circuits of the rat that are crucial to motivated behavior. Our goal is to understand how addictive drugs, such as alcohol and nicotine, alter corticostriatal circuit activity, especially when drug exposure occurs during adolescence. To examine corticostriatal activity, we use a variety of complimentary approaches: electrochemistry to measure real-time dopamine fluctuations; electrophysiology to monitor neuronal firing patterns; optogenetics to manipulate neuronal activity; and resting-state function MRI to assess functional connectivity across brain regions of interest. Behavioral measurements include on instrumental and Pavlovian conditioning, with a focus on how drug exposure, such as binge alcohol during adolescence, alters behavioral flexibility in response to changing circumstances or reward value. The Robinson lab works closely with the lab of Dr. Charlotte Boettiger, who studies the same neural circuits and similar behavioral processes in humans, in order to design our rodent studies to gain translational value.

Recent Publications

    Click here for a full list of publications from PubMed
     

    Sex and Adolescent Ethanol Exposure Influence Pavlovian Conditioned Approach.  Madayag AC, Stringfield SJ, Reissner KJ, Boettiger CA, Robinson DLAlcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017 Feb 14. doi: 10.1111/acer.13354. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:28196273

    Orbitofrontal participation in sign- and goal-tracking conditioned responses: Effects of nicotine.  Stringfield SJ, Palmatier MI, Boettiger CA, Robinson DLNeuropharmacology. 2016 Dec 22;116:208-223. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2016.12.020. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:28012948

     Adolescent Alcohol Exposure Persistently Impacts Adult Neurobiology and Behavior.  Crews FT, Vetreno RP, Broadwater MA, Robinson DLPharmacol Rev. 2016 Oct;68(4):1074-1109. Review. PMID:27677720

    Sex and the Lab: An Alcohol-Focused Commentary on the NIH Initiative to Balance Sex in Cell and Animal Studies.  Guizzetti M, Davies DL, Egli M, Finn DA, Molina P, Regunathan S, Robinson DL, Sohrabji F. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Jun;40(6):1182-91. doi: 10.1111/acer.13072. Review. PMID:27154003

    Acute phenylalanine/tyrosine depletion of phasic dopamine in the rat brain.  Shnitko TA, Taylor SC, Stringfield SJ, Zandy SL, Cofresí RU, Doherty JM, Lynch WB, Boettiger CA, Gonzales RA, Robinson DLPsychopharmacology (Berl). 2016 Jun;233(11):2045-54. doi: 10.1007/s00213-016-4259-0. PMID:26944052