Student Information Training Programs Research Centers

Pharmacology & Toxicology

Research and Graduate Training Faculty


Duvauchelle, Christine L., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Pharm./Tox.
PHR 5.224D

Lab Members


Allison Feduccia

Graduate Student

Area of Study:
My primary research interests involve investigating how environmental acoustic stimulation and ambient temperature affects the neurochemical and reinforcing properties of MDMA. MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is a popular drug often taken at clubs or raves. Raves and clubs offer environments that are rich in sensory stimulation, such as loud electronic dance music and flashing lights that may enhance the positive and subjective effects of the drug. These distinctive elements of the drug-taking environment could play a major role in the primary reinforcement of the drug, as well as influence the negative consequences associated with MDMA. Therefore, I am using a conditioned place preference and self-administration experiment to investigate behavior parameters of rats that may be altered as result of taking MDMA while exposed to music, white noise, and no additional sound, as well as increased ambient temperatures. In addition, I measure changes in nucleus accumbens dopamine and serotonin levels by in vivo microdialysis while the rats self-administer MDMA in the presence of the various acoustic stimuli.


Esther Maiers

Graduate Student

Area of Study:

I have been working on cocaine self-administration in rats and investigated the effects of different pretreatments and environmental cues on their behavior (lever presses, response latencies, and locomotor activity) and dopamine levels in the brain using in vivo microdialysis. The influence of environmental cues on drug taking behavior is extremely important in the development of drug dependence. Objects, colors, sounds and other cues repeatedly present at the event of drug taking are eventually associated with the drug and its effect. Finally, this drug-conditioned cue can cause an effect on its own or alter the "normal" effect of the drug. Conditioned drug effects can go in opposing directions. While many animal studies have shown that cocaine causes drug sensitization, we find cocaine-induced conditioned tolerance under certain circumstances. This dichotomy to our findings is very challenging. However, one major difference between the majority of animal studies and ours is that most studies use experimenter-administered drug administration. This is a very important issue to address in the field of addiction research because drug dependent patients generally self-administer the drug of abuse and choose the amount of drug taken according to their "needs". Many investigators using animal models do not factor in the influence of voluntary drug intake on behavioral and neurochemical responses. Therefore, I am currently working with two different groups of rats, of which one is allowed to self-administer cocaine while the second group is paired (yoked) with the first group and receives non-contingent infusions of cocaine under the same conditions. Additionally to conditioning and microdialysis, I am currently learning Golgi staining, a staining technique that will further allow me to look at cellular differences between the two groups of animals.


Leah McAleer

Research Assistant

Area of Study:

My research involves exploring the effects of intermittent exposure to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), while measuring for 50-kHz vocalization that has been shown to occur in appetitive situations, in male rats. I am working in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Tim Schallert (homepage). Also, I have continued Ame Wongsa's research in novel odor recongintion, measuring memory loss and enhancement using the models of diazepam and cocaine.

Undergraduate Research Assistants
Samantha Fernandes
Nundhun Kongovi
Aimee Lam
Daniel Min
Jennifer Nguyen

Former Lab Members
Elena Reveron

Manoranjan D' Souza
University of California, San Diego

Ame Wongsa

Andrew Seiwell
Aiko Ikegami
Chris Olsen

More information about Dr. Duvauchelle
> Recent Publications
> Lab Photos
> Sound of Rats Calling for Cocaine
> Related Links
> Return to Duvauchelle's Home Page

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Last Reviewed: January 28, 2009

Division Information

Mailing Address:
Pharmacology & Toxicology
College of Pharmacy
The University of Texas
at Austin
107 W. Dean Keeton
Stop C0875
Austin, TX, USA

Email Address: pharmtox

Phone: 512-471-5158

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