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Depression and Drug Abuse

Ronald L. Cowan
Medical Psychiatry/General Adult Psychiatry
3009, Village at Vanderbilt
615-322-2303 (office)
ronald.l.cowan@vanderbilt.edu

Dr. Cowan studies the role of brain monoamines in mood and reward system function with the goal of understanding substance use disorders. The lab is currently utilizing neuroimaging, genetic analysis, and cognitive neuroscience to study the effects of the putative selective serotonin neurotoxin, MDMA (Ecstasy), on the brain’s structure, function, and chemical composition. The lab studies the neural substrates of reward function, including the neural basis of dysphoria and euphoria using functional neuroimaging during substance-induced mood changes. Dr. Cowan’s explorations of monoamines in the context of reward function and drug abuse are rooted in his belief that the interaction between modern societal structure and the ancient, largely automatic brain processes influenced by monoamine systems are the basis for many contemporary social problems such as depression and drug abuse.

For more information, please visit the lab website.