The Aragona Lab studies the neuroscience of social attachment with the goal of uncovering the mechanisms underlying mate choice, pair bond formation, and pair bond maintenance in the socially monogamous prairie vole. These studies have primarily focused on dopamine and opioid regulation of pair bonding. The neural underpinnings of pair bonding shares striking similarities with the neuroscience of drug reward and general motivated behavior. Therefore, the lab also studies the neuroscience of goal-seeking behaviors involving drugs of abuse as well more general studies of appetitive and aversive motivation. These studies employ fast-scan cyclic voltammetry to measure real-time dopamine transmission in freely behaving rats. Finally, the Aragona Lab also examines brain and behavioral interactions between social and drug reward in the prairie vole model. Specific goals include why exposure to drugs of abuse impairs social attachment (i.e. prevents pair bonding) and most importantly, why drugs of abuse are less ‘rewarding’ to pair bonded animals. Moreover, both drugs and social bonding cause very similar neuroplasticity and these neural alterations are responsible for the behavioral interactions between social and drug reward.
Recent Representative Publications
Vander Weele C.M., Porter-Stransky K.A., O.S. Mabrouk, V. Lovic, B.F. Singer, R.T. Kennedy, and B.J. Aragona (2014) Rapid dopamine transmission within the nucleus accumbens dramatically differs following morphine and oxycodone delivery European Journal of Neuroscience 40 (7): 3041-3054.
Resendez S.L., M. Dome, G. Gormley, D. Franco, N. Nevarez, A.A. Hamid, and B.J. Aragona (2013) Mu-opioid receptors within subregions of the striatum mediate pair bond formation through parallel yet distinct reward mechanisms. Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (21): 9140-9149.
Porter-Stransky K.A., J.L. Seiler, J.J. Day, and B.J. Aragona (2013) Development of behavioral preferences for the optimal choice following unexpected reward omission is mediated by a reduction of D2-like receptor tone in the nucleus accumbens. European Journal of Neuroscience, 38 (4): 2572-2588.
Resendez S.L. and B.J. Aragona (2013) Aversive Motivation and the Maintenance of Monogamous Pair Bonding. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 24 (1): 51-60.
Badrinarayan A., S.A. Wescott, C.M. Vander Weele, B.T. Saunders, B.E. Couturier, S. Maren, and B.J. Aragona (2012) Aversive stimuli differentially modulate real-time dopamine transmission dynamics within the nucleus accumbens core and shell. Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (45): 15779-90.
Resendez S.L., M. Kuhnmuench, T. Kryzwosinski, and B.J. Aragona (2012) Kappa-opioid receptors within the nucleus accumbens shell mediate pair bond maintenance. Journal of Neuroscience, 32 (20): 6771-6784
Aragona B.J. (2011) The regional specificity of rapid actions of cocaine. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 12 (11): 700
Porter-Stransky K.A., S.A. Wescott, M. Hershman, A. Badrinarayan, C.M. Vander Weele, and B.J. Aragona (2011) Cocaine must enter the brain to evoke unconditioned dopamine release within the nucleus accumbens shell. Neuroscience Letters, 504 (1): 13-17
Liu, Y., K.A. Young, J.T. Curtis, B.J. Aragona, and Z.X. Wang (2011). Social bonding decreases the rewarding properties of amphetamine through a dopamine D1 receptor-mediated mechanism. Journal of Neuroscience, 31 (22): 7960-7966