APA Division 06 - Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology
Symposium: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Impacts of Alcohol on the Developing Brain
Roberto Cofresi - Top-Down Inhibitory Control Over Bottom-Up Behavioral Approach Impulses Triggered by Alcohol
Roberto Cofresí presented behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) evidence for increased difficulty exerting top-down inhibitory control over bottom-up behavioral approach impulses triggered by alcohol beverage cues. This research includes emerging adults who report lower sensitivity to the acute effects of alcohol, which is a risk factor for heavy/hazardous alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. He will be sharing an update to some of his recently published research in which he observed behavioral and EEG evidence for conflict between top-down behavioral response control goals and bottom-up alcohol cue-induced approach motivation among heavy drinking/high-risk underage drinkers in late adolescence/early emering adulthood. The key event-related potential (ERP) in the research presented is the frontal or conflict N2/N450, which seems to reflect electrical activity in the anterior cingulate and/or medial prefrontal cortices. This research has vital translational implications for prevention efforts aimed at shifting behavioral responses to alcohol in adolescents with the larger goal of preventing alcohol use disorder in adulthood. Links to prevention research including implications on adolescent development including related to motivation to use alcohol will be shared with attendees.
Other presentations in this symposium included
Kati Healey, PhD, Duke University - Brain Changes in Neurons and Astrocytes in Rodent Models of Adolescent Hazardous Alcohol Use
Kate Nooner, PhD, UNC Wilmington - Disruptions in Adolescent Brain Function on Trajectories of Young Adult Hazardous Alcohol Use
Ksenija Marinkovic, PhD, San Diego State University - Evidence for Acute Alcohol-Induced Impairments in Inhibitory Control
Roberto attended the 46th Annual RSA Scientific Meeting held in Bellevue, Washington in late June 2023. He attended very thought-provoking symposia on the neural bases of chronic alcohol use-related cognitive-behavioral inflexibility, novel approaches to understanding alcohol withdrawal, novel approaches to studying functional brain connectivity, and new theoretical perspectives on recovery from alcohol use disorder. As always, it was a pleasure meeting new researchers, and reuniting with colleagues from other universities, including friends and mentors at the University of Texas (Drs. Hongjoo Lee, Regina Mangieri, and Rueben Gonzales) and Indiana University (Drs. David Kareken and Ann Kosobud).
Congratulations to lab members who graduated this semester!
(1) Darius Stewart was accepted into the MU Masters in Public Health in the Fall. He will continue collecting data for the lab!
(2) Ian Flowers was accepted into the graduate program in Applied Psychology at Maastricht University, Netherlands.
(3) Liam Peck will be working as Research Specialist I at MU Psychological Sciences coordinating a NIH R01 Study.
(4) Alana Hatanaka will be working as Hospital Administrator in Columbia, MO.
Thank you all for the opportunity to mentor you and looking forward to seeing where your post-graduation journey will take you!
Undergraduate lab members presented their independent research projects at the 2023 edition of the Undergraduate Research Week. All projects were mentored and/or co-directed by Dr. Cofresi.
(1) Hannah Drzewiecki & Jasmine Chen, “Alcohol craving in a laboratory setting among emerging adults”
(2) Sophia Slinkard & Darius Stewart, “New Cues Paired with Sugar Gain Affective Significance”
(3) Ian Flowers, “The influence of social network drinking behavior and a family history of problematic drinking on alcohol involvement in underage, emerging-adult drinkers”
(4) Liam Peck, “Brain responses conditioned to a novel visual stimulus paired with sugar water”
Ian and Liam also presented their research at the Midwest Psychological Association in Chicago, IL.
Liz Conley was also presenting research with her lab in the College of Engineering: “An automated calculation to determine polymer persistence length from AFM images”
The lab attended the 2022 annual meeting of the Society For Psychophysiological Research (SPR), which took place Sept 28-Oct 2 in Vancouver, BC, Canada
(1) Cofresi, Morales, Piasecki & Bartholow, Time Frequency Power and Phase Synchrony Signatures of Alcohol Cue Reactivity Among Emerging Adult Alcohol Users
(2) Brancaleone, Cofresi, Ito, Bartholow, Conflict, Motivation and the Adjustment of Race-biased Responding
(3) Dr. Cofresi gave a talk at the “From Bench To Bedside: Advancements In Quantifying And Modulating Neural Circuit Disfunction In Substance Use Disorders” symposium. The title of his talk was Alcohol beverage cues serve as “rewards” in humans: preliminary studies of individual differences.
It was also a special treat to attend the Presidential Address given by Dr. Bruce Bartholow, Roberto’s former postdoc adviser and forever mentor.
Various Pavlovian conditioning protocols involving rapid intra-oral liquid delivery and EEG recording were piloted, one of which became the K99 study protocol.
Dr. Cofresí visited the laboratory of Dr. David Kareken (K99/R00 advisory committee member) at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana. During his visit, he presented his research agenda to the faculty of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center, a group of pre-clinical non-human animal and clinical human subjects researchers.
Dr. Cofresí presented at the 2022 annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA), which took place Aug 4-6 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He presented EEG data from an on-going NIH/NIAAA-funded study conducted in the SCANlab at a translational symposium organized by Division 6 of the APA: Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology. Two other APA divisions (28 [Psychopharmacology], 50 [Addiction Psychology]) also featured this symposium as part of their programming at the convention.
Postdoctoral Fellow for 4 years in Dr. Bruce Bartholow’s SCANlab, Dr. Cofresi received a prestigious NIH-NIAAA K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Career Award and was promoted to Research Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri. His grant title is: “A translational human laboratory Pavlovian conditioning model of individual differences in risk for alcohol cue incentive salience sensitization and longitudinal assessment of problematic alcohol use.” Project #1K99AA029169
The article features experts on the science of addiction, MU Professor Dr. Kenneth Sher and Dr. Roberto Cofresi, who weigh in on how HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ depicts addiction.
Dr. Cofresi explains that understanding addiction and withdrawal comes from acknowledging how it is grounded in biology and our bodies. He hopes that media portrayals of addiction will get people talking and inspire those suffering from substance use disorders to get help.
“I’ve seen treatment of a variety of kinds, psychological realm, group therapy and individual therapy, help people improve their lives and functioning so they can experience whatever beautiful tragic thing is the human experience,” Cofresí says.
Click here for the full Vox Magazine article
The article was also featured in the Missouri Center for Addiction Research and Engagement (click to read the article in MO-CARE)
Dr. Roberto Cofresi shared with The New Yorker Magazine his insights about neurobiology of conditioned behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse. Click here for the full The New Yorker article
Kristin Black wrote a piece about Roberto Cofresí for the Missouri Center for Addiction Research and Engagement (MO-CARE). The article talks about Roberto’s experience with MO-CARE, and how the integrated approach of MO-CARE was an opportunity for him to combine his expertise in pre-clinical models, basic science research and human psychology to pursue interdisciplinary answers to the puzzle of addiction.
Click here to read the full article