Joyce Besheer, Ph.D.
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies
Department of Psychiatry
My research interests include studying the neurobiological mechanisms underlying alcoholism and addiction. These interests include studying the neurobiology of the subjective/interoceptive effects of alcohol, nicotine, and nicotine and alcohol combined. All drugs of abuse share the common attribute that they produce subjective/interoceptive effects in humans (for example, the feeling of “drunkenness” or “high”). Understanding these underlying mechanisms is important because subjective drug effects can contribute to ongoing drug taking and relapse. Our preclinical work takes a multidisciplinary approach to examine how stress can impact sensitivity to the subjective effects of alcohol, alcohol drinking and relapse, with a mechanistic focus on adaptations in the underlying neurobiology. I am also interested in how drug states/cues (such as alcohol and nicotine) can come to control behavior and impact these cues have on ongoing drinking and relapse. Together, these studies have numerous implications for the development of therapeutic interventions in alcoholism and for identifying factors that influence pathological behavioral processes in addiction, such as drug taking and relapse.