Legacy Research Institute

Transforming medical care through science, technology, and innovation.

Barbara Sorg, PhD

Barbara A. Sorg, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist
R.S. Dow Endowed Chair of Neuroscience
Legacy Research Institute

Phone: 503-413-1934  |  Email: bsorg@downeurobiology.org 

CV (Updated April 2021) | Peer Reviewed Publications
R.S. Dow Neuroscience Laboratories
ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-4913-4910

Short Bio:

Dr. Sorg received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park in Biochemistry.  She completed a post-doc at Washington State University in Pullman where she was eventually hired on as tenure-track Assistant Professor and was promoted to Full Professor in 2004. She served as Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program for 14 years and Co-director of the Translational Addiction Research Program for the past 8 years at WSU. 

Dr. Sorg joined LRI in 2019 to advance her translational research program while continuing her basic research into mechanisms of cocaine addiction and methods for treatment. 

Research Interests:

  • Perineuronal nets in cocaine addiction
  • Circadian rhythms, sleep, and memory
  • Role of the prefrontal cortex in cocaine-associated memories

Publication Highlights:

Diurnal changes in perineuronal nets and parvalbumin neurons in the rat medial prefrontal cortex
Harkness JH, Gonzalez AE, Bushana PN, Jorgensen ET, Hegarty DM, Di Nardo AA, Prochiantz A, Wisor JP, Aicher SA, Brown TE, Sorg, BA.
Brain Struct Funct.(2021) May;226(4):1135-1153

Impact of perineuronal nets on electrophysiology of parvalbumin interneurons, principal neurons, and brain oscillations: A review.
Wingert, JC, and Sorg, BA. Front Synaptic Neurosci. (2021) May 10;13:673210.

The extracellular matrix and perineuronal nets in memory.
Fawcett, JW, M Fyhn, P Jendelova, JCF Kwok, J Ruzicka, and BA Sorg.
Mol Psychiatry. (2022) Aug;27(8):3192-3203.

Impact of perineuronal net removal in the rat medial prefrontal cortex on parvalbumin interneurons after reinstatement of cocaine conditioned place preference.
Gonzalez, AE, ET Jorgensen, JD Ramos, JH Harkness, JA Aadland, TE Brown BA Sorg.  Front Cell Neurosci. (2022) Jul 28;16:932391

Net gain and loss: Influence of natural rewards and drugs of abuse on perineuronal nets. Brown, TE, and BA Sorg. 
(2023) Jan;48(1):3-20.

Current Lab Members:

  • Angela Gonzales (PhD student)
  • Jonny Ramos (Research Assistant)
  • Jacqueline Minder-Almanza (Undergraduate student)
  • Sebastian Reynolds (Research Assistant)
  • Brittani Wallsten (Research Assistant)

Research Focus:

The main projects in my lab focus on how to prevent relapse to cocaine in rats. We use conditioned place preference and drug self-administration models to determine how to diminish drug-associated memories that are thought to cause relapse behavior.

To diminish drug-associated memories, we examine the process of reconsolidation, wherein prior memories can be recalled and subsequently disrupted with appropriate pharmacological agents so that only the recalled memory is diminished. We focus on using specific pharmacological or chemogenetic agents in the prefrontal cortex to disrupt consolidation and reconsolidation of the memories associated with cocaine, thereby suppressing drug-seeking behavior and relapse.

Most of our studies focus on an extracellular matrix structure called the perineuronal net, which is important for acquiring and maintaining drug-associated memories. One function of perineuronal nets is to allow for normal firing of their underlying fast-spiking, parvalbumin interneurons, which regulate the excitatory:inhibitory balance in the brain. We have found that both parvalbumin and perineuronal nets change with the day:night cycle and are most likely regulated by circadian rhythms. Recent studies in our lab use in vivo electrophysiology to decipher how brain oscillations and single cells respond during cocaine-seeking behavior in rats to better understand how brain oscillations might be modified to prevent relapse in humans.