• 618 Citations
  • 10 h-Index
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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr. Nicholas Graziane’s research looks to identify the molecular and cellular substrates that mediate a number of devastating brain diseases, including drug addiction and chronic pain. With the lab’s established animal models for these diseases, changes in synaptic transmission are examined, as are intrinsic membrane excitability of neurons and circuits that are thought to control motivation, reward and affective states using electrophysiology and optogenetic approaches.

The laboratory’s main project investigates the neurocircuits that control the long-term maintenance of opioid-context associations. Opioid-context associations occur during repeated opioid administration within a specific context (e.g., environmental surroundings), which leads to the transfer of the motivational and rewarding sensations of the drug to the environment in which they were taken. This in turn leads to drug-craving and contextual-drug relapse in drug-free states, which is a problem for abstinent opioid abusers. By identifying the neurocircuits that control and maintain opioid-context associations, the neurocircuit connections can potentially be reoriented using electrical brain stimulation protocols, thus permanently eliminating the associations. In order to get to this clinically relevant endpoint, rodent models of addiction are employed. Using conditioned place preference, which isolates context associations from other forms of associations like cue associations or operant associations, mice are conditioned to express opioid-context associations. Once the behavior is established, optogenetic techniques to isolate specific neurocircuit pathways are employed in order to uncover changes in glutamatergic transmission in the nucleus accumbens shell, a brain that regulates and controls opioid-induced context associations. This work includes a combination of innovative techniques, including behavior, in vivo and ex vivo optogenetic techniques, and ex vivo electrophysiological approaches in transgenic animals. 

Education/Academic qualification

Postdoctoral training, University of Pittsburgh


Postdoctoral training, Brown University


PhD, SUNY Buffalo


BS, SUNY Buffalo


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Research Output 2009 2018

  • 618 Citations
  • 10 h-Index
  • 22 Chapter
  • 12 Article
  • 1 Short survey
Street Drugs
3 Citations

Opioid and Psychostimulant Plasticity: Targeting Overlap in Nucleus Accumbens Glutamate Signaling

Hearing, M., Graziane, N., Dong, Y. & Thomas, M. J., Jan 1 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : Trends in Pharmacological Sciences.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nucleus Accumbens
Opioid Analgesics
Glutamic Acid
11 Citations

Constitutive activation of kappa opioid receptors at ventral tegmental area inhibitory synapses following acute stress

Polter, A. M., Barcomb, K., Chen, R. W., Dingess, P. M., Graziane, N. M., Brown, T. E. & Kauer, J. A. Apr 12 2017 In : eLife. 6, e23785

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

GABAergic Neurons
kappa Opioid Receptor
Ventral Tegmental Area
Sprague Dawley Rats


Graziane, N. & Dong, Y. Oct 1 2016 Neuromethods. Humana Press Inc., p. 33-53 21 p. (Neuromethods; vol. 112)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Synaptic Transmission
Research Personnel

Electrical theory

Graziane, N. & Dong, Y. Oct 1 2016 Neuromethods. Humana Press Inc., p. 17-31 15 p. (Neuromethods; vol. 112)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Synaptic Potentials