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Investigating how amygdala neural circuits contribute to opioid use disorders.


The widespread misuse of both prescribed and illicit opioids, termed the Opioid Crisis, has grave consequences for both individuals and our society. This project aims to understand how the neural circuits of the amygdala contribute to the cellular pathophysiology underlying compulsive drug use to enable development of new therapeutic options to treat opioid addiction.


Associate Professor Elena Bagley.

Research location

Camperdown - Charles Perkins Centre

Program type



Opioid addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, with most users going through many cycles of use, withdrawal and relapse. Relapse to drug use is promoted by increases in reward seeking during withdrawal (to alleviate the aversive emotional state) and exposure to drug-associated cues. The central idea of this project is that neural circuits in the amygdala underlie the reward learning that contribute to the development of compulsive drug use. This project seeks to understand how opioid use induces synaptic plasticity in the amygdala as the basis for development of therapies that target the mechanisms responsible for opioid addiction.

Additional information

Techniques will include patch-clamp electrophysiology, optogenetics, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. All these methods (and many more) are established in the Bagley laboratory.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2949

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