Allison McDonald,

Allison McDonald

, MSc

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Addiction, Animal models, Behavioural neuroscience, Chemogenetics, Fiber photometry

Research interests

A core component of Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is alcohol use despite negative consequences. The brain areas and neural circuits underlying this aspect of AUD are not well understood. My research aims to describe the neural circuits underlying compulsive alcohol use in a pre-clinical model. 

Through the use of techniques such as cFos immunohistochemistry and retrograde tracing, we have been able to identify neural circuits whose activity is associated with compulsive alcohol use. We are now using chemogenetics (DREADDs) and fiber photometry (in-vivo calcium imaging) to manipulate and monitor the activity of these circuits to gain a greater understanding of these brain areas that are responsible for promoting alcohol use despite negative consequences. These findings will add to our understanding of AUD as a brain disorder, and may even help us identify novel AUD treatments. 

In my research, I also integrate the use of open-source quantitative and automatic data analysis approaches. I am implementing the use of automatic quantitative behavioural video analysis, and an open-source histology analysis pipeline for brain-wide automatic cell detection.