Antonello Bonci, M.D. Scientific Director - Principal Investigators - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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251 Bayview Boulevard,
Rm 04A521
Baltimore, MD 21224

Phone: (443) 740-2463


Antonello Bonci, M.D., Scientific Director

Chief, Synaptic Plasticity Section on-site page link

Post-doctoral Residence - Department of Neurology - University of California, San Francisco

M.D. - Sacred Heart School of Medicine - Rome, Italy


Chronic exposure to drugs of abuse causes several cellular and behavioral adaptations such as tolerance, dependence, and sensitization. The main goal of my laboratory is to understand the synaptic properties of neurons in brain areas relevant to drug addiction such as the ventral  tegmental area (VTA), the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). My laboratory was the first to demonstrate that drugs of abuse such as cocaine produce a form of synaptic plasticity called long-term potentiation (LTP). The aim of my research is to apply electrophysiological, optogenetic, molecular, and behavioral approaches to elucidate the long-term effects that are produced by chronic administration of drugs of abuse such as cocaine and alcohol. Understanding the basic mechanisms at the synaptic level that underlie the long-term effects of these drugs will likely open new avenues for therapeutic strategies against the many symptoms of substance use disorders.

Selected Publications:
  1. Britt J. P., F. Benaliouad, R. A. McDevitt, G. D. Stuber, R. A. Wise and A. Bonci. (2013) "Synaptic and Behavioral Profile of Multiple Glutamatergic Inputs to the Nucleus Accumbens." Neuron 76, no. 4: 790-803.

  2. Kourrich S., T. Hayashi, SY Tsai, B. Harvey, TP Su, and A. Bonci. (2013) "Dynamic Interaction between Sigma-1 Receptor and Kv1.2 Shapes Neuronal and Behavioral Responses to Cocaine." Cell 152 no. 1-2: 236-47.

  3. Chen B. T., H. Yau, C. Hatch, S. L. Chou, F.W. Hopf, and A. Bonci. (2013) "Rescuing Cocaine-induced Prefrontal Cortex Hypoactivity Prevents Compulsive Cocaine Seeking." Nature, 496 no. 7445: 359-62.

  4. Britt J.P., A. Bonci (2013)"Alcohol and Tobacco: how smoking may promote excessive drinking" Neuron 79, no. 3: 406-7

  5. Stuber, G. D., D. R. Sparta, A. M. Stamatakis, W. A. van Leeuwen, J. E. Hardjoprajitno, S. Cho, K. M. Tye, K. A. Kempadoo, F. Zhang, K. Deisseroth, and A. Bonci. (2011)"Excitatory Transmission from the Amygdala to Nucleus Accumbens Facilitates Reward Seeking." Nature 475, no. 7356: 377-80.

  6. Stuber, G. D., T. S. Hnasko, J. P. Britt, R. H. Edwards, and A. Bonci. (2010)"Dopaminergic Terminals in the Nucleus Accumbens but Not the Dorsal Striatum Corelease Glutamate." J. Neuroscience 30, no. 24: 8229-33.

  7. Takahashi Y.K., C.Y. Chang, F. Lucantonio, R.Z. Haney, B.A. Berg, A. Bonci, G. Schoenbaum (2013) “Neural Estimates of Imagined Outcomes in the Orbitofrontral Cortex Drive Behavior and Learning” Neuron, 80 no. 2: 507-18

  8. Hopf, F. W., and A. Bonci. (2010) "Dnmt3a: Addiction’s Molecular Forget-me-not?" Nat. Neuroscience 13, no. 9: 1041-43

  9. Bowers, M. S., B. T. Chen, and A. Bonci. (2010)"Ampa Receptor Synaptic Plasticity Induced by Psychostimulants: The Past, Present, and Therapeutic Future." Neuron 67, no. 1: 11-24.

  10. Hopf, F. W., M. S. Bowers, S. J. Chang, B. T. Chen, M. Martin, T. Seif, S. L. Cho, K. Tye, and A. Bonci. (2010) "Reduced Nucleus Accumbens Sk Channel Activity Enhances Alcohol Seeking During Abstinence." Neuron 65, no. 5: 682-94.

About Dr. Bonci's...

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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