This project is designed to investigate the effects of drugs of abuse on affective responses to stimuli with positive or negative emotional valence. The studies explore the hypothesis that drugs modulate responses to affective stimuli, and that these effects, in turn, influence the drugs'subjective or reinforcing effects. We will study bidirectional interactions between acute effects of stimulants, alcohol and cannabinoids on affective responses. The studies focus in particular on affective responses to stimuli with social content, to investigate the idea that drugs influence the perception and valence of social stimuli. We will assess the effects of drugs on responses to positive or negative visual images, including images with social or nonsocial content. In addition, we will investigate drug the effects of drugs in real-life positive or negative social situations. In all studies we will compare these emotional responses in men and women. This innovative approach bridges the area of neuropsychopharmacology with affective neuroscience, and if successful, will extend our understanding of the processes that lead to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

Public Health Relevance

It is usually thought that people use and abuse drugs because the drugs produce feelings of wellbeing, but drugs also may influence behavior by making emotionally positive stimuli or events appear to be more positive, or by making negative stimuli or events less negative. We will investigate the direct effects of drugs on emotional responses, using both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli, and social and nonsocial stimuli. We will study social content because social behavior and drug rewards share some of the same brain circuits, and we will compare the drugs'effects on emotional responses in men and women because there may be sex differences in these effects.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biobehavioral Regulation, Learning and Ethology Study Section (BRLE)
Program Officer
Kautz, Mary A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Bershad, Anya K; Jaffe, Jerome H; Childs, Emma et al. (2015) Opioid partial agonist buprenorphine dampens responses to psychosocial stress in humans. Psychoneuroendocrinology 52:281-8
Kirkpatrick, Matthew G; de Wit, Harriet (2015) MDMA: a social drug in a social context. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 232:1155-63
Kirkpatrick, Matthew G; Lee, Royce; Wardle, Margaret C et al. (2014) Effects of MDMA and Intranasal oxytocin on social and emotional processing. Neuropsychopharmacology 39:1654-63
Frye, Charles G; Wardle, Margaret C; Norman, Greg J et al. (2014) MDMA decreases the effects of simulated social rejection. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 117:1-6
Hart, Amy B; Gamazon, Eric R; Engelhardt, Barbara E et al. (2014) Genetic variation associated with euphorigenic effects of d-amphetamine is associated with diminished risk for schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:5968-73
Weafer, Jessica; de Wit, Harriet (2014) Sex differences in impulsive action and impulsive choice. Addict Behav 39:1573-9
Childs, Emma; White, Tara L; de Wit, Harriet (2014) Personality traits modulate emotional and physiological responses to stress. Behav Pharmacol 25:493-502
Kirkpatrick, Matthew G; Baggott, Matthew J; Mendelson, John E et al. (2014) MDMA effects consistent across laboratories. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 231:3899-905
Ballard, Michael Edward; Gallo, David A; de Wit, Harriet (2014) Amphetamine increases errors during episodic memory retrieval. J Clin Psychopharmacol 34:85-92
Wardle, Margaret C; de Wit, Harriet (2014) MDMA alters emotional processing and facilitates positive social interaction. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 231:4219-29

Showing the most recent 10 out of 161 publications