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Barbara A. Sorg, Ph.D.

Barbara Sorg, PhD

R.S. Dow Endowed Chair
Legacy Research Institute

Contact Info:

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


CV (updated July 2019)
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. 

Publication Highlights:

Cocaine exposure modulates perineuronal nets and synaptic excitability of fast-spiking interneurons in the medial prefrontal cortex.
ML Slaker, ET Jorgensen, DM Hegarty, X Liu, Y Kong, F Zhang, RJ Linhardt, TE Brown, SA Aicher and BA Sorg. (2018)  eNeuro

Perineuronal nets in the lateral hypothalamus area regulate cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking behavior
JM Blacktop and BA Sorg (2018). Neuropsychopharmacol 

Sleep disruption elevates oxidative stress in parvalbumin-positive cells of the rat cerebral cortex
JH Harkness, PN Bushana, RP Todd, WC Clegern, BA Sorg and JP Wisor (2019). Sleep

Research Interests:

  • Perineuronal nets in cocaine addiction
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms
  • Role of the prefrontal cortex in cocaine-associated memories

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 recent work focuses 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 protect their underlying fast-spiking interneuons from oxidative stress, which is elevated by cocaine. A branch of our studies therefore examines the role of perineuronal nets in preventing oxidative stress and how sleep and/or circadian rhythms may reverse the oxidative burden that accumulates in these fast-spiking neurons during wakefulness.

Current Lab Members:

  • John Harkness, Ph.D. (Post-doctoral Fellow)
  • Angela Gonzales (Graduate Student)
  • Jereme Wingert (Research Assistant)
  • Johnathan Anguiano (Research Assistant)
  • Abby Gilgor (Undergraduate Student)
  • Ashlynn Dean (Undergraduate Student)