Sunila Nair, MBBS, PhD

Personal Statement

My research program is focused on investigating the functional neural circuitry that underlies relapse to drugs of abuse and non-drug reinforcers. Relapse is a critical problem in the treatment of addiction and despite decades of effort the neuronal mechanisms that drive relapse are not completely understood.

We use a range of complex behavioral models to mimic drug/food taking or seeking behavior in conjunction with neuropharmacological or virus-mediated gene transfer techniques to target specific brain regions/receptors etc. We also use engineered pharmacosynthetic tools (DREADD’s) to modulate G-protein coupled signaling in various brain regions and study the effect of these manipulations on behavior. We have recently implemented intersectional viral vector technologies to study the role of defined neural circuits during complex behavioral tasks. Current projects are focused on understanding the role of the lateral habenula in relapse.​

Department Affiliations

Recent Publications

Effect of chemogenetic inhibition of lateral habenula neuronal activity on cocaine- and food-seeking behaviors in the rat.
(2020 Jan 29)
Addict Biol
Nair SG, Smirnov DS, Estabrook MM, Chisholm AD, Silva PR, Neumaier JF

Chemogenetic inhibition of lateral habenula projections to the dorsal raphe nucleus reduces passive coping and perseverative reward seeking in rats.
(2020 Jun)
Neuropsychopharmacology 45(7): 1115-1124
Coffey KR, Marx RG, Vo EK, Nair SG, Neumaier JF

Striatal 5-HT6 Receptors Regulate Cocaine Reinforcement in a Pathway-Selective Manner.
(2016 Aug)
Neuropsychopharmacology 41(9): 2377-87
Brodsky M, Gibson AW, Smirnov D, Nair SG, Neumaier JF

Differential effect of viral overexpression of nucleus accumbens shell 5-HT1B receptors on stress- and cocaine priming-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking.
(2013 Nov)
Pharmacol Biochem Behav 112(): 89-95
Nair SG, Furay AR, Liu Y, Neumaier JF

Incubation of fear.
(2013 Jul)
Curr Protoc Neurosci Chapter 6(): Unit 6.27
Pickens CL, Golden SA, Nair SG

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