David Root, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder

Marijuana is among the most widely used psychoactive substances across the world. The active ingredient in marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has rewarding qualities and some individuals will become addicted to using it. THC has aversive properties as well at higher doses. On the one hand, this might limit addiction susceptibility, but on the other hand may reduce patient compliance when THC is used for medicinal purposes. The neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the rewarding or aversive properties of THC are not completely understood. Our primary goal is to identify which neurons in the brain’s “reward center”, the ventral tegmental area, are affected by THC, how these neurons are physiologically altered by THC, and the necessity of these neurons for the rewarding or aversive properties of THC