By Paige Currie, 2021 Innovative Student Research Grant, Master’s
Paige Currie is a doctoral student at West Virginia University (WVU), working in the behavioral pharmacology laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Karen G. Anderson. This SABA grant will support her master’s thesis research, which is designed to evaluate effects of aripiprazole, alone and in combination with d-amphetamine, on probability discounting with Sprague-Dawley rats as subjects. Aripiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic that is prescribed for individuals with schizophrenia, Tourette’s Disorder, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. No known studies have investigated effects of aripiprazole on risky choice, however, several case studies within the literature suggest a potential relation between administration of aripiprazole and development of maladaptive behaviors, such as compulsive gambling.
In the study the grant will support, rats will engage in a probability-discounting task, in which choice is between concurrent options of a smaller, certain reinforcer and a larger, uncertain reinforcer (e.g., 1 food pellet at 100% probability of delivery versus 2 food pellets at varying probabilities of delivery). Upon reaching stability, rats will be given various doses of aripiprazole in 3 mL Jell-O tablets and will complete the same probability-discounting task. After the determination of the dose-response function for aripiprazole alone, the task will be run again following administration of d-amphetamine (i.p.) and aripiprazole.
In addition to research, Paige has been completing a practicum placement with the WVU Neurodevelopmental Center and Center for Excellence in Disabilities. She has developed an interest in the behavioral and interdisciplinary treatments of pediatric feeding disorders, and particularly feeding difficulties associated with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Paige hopes to earn her Ph.D. and continue her academic career, blending research, clinical work, and teaching at a university. Paige would like to thank SABA for supporting her master’s thesis research. Additionally, she would like to thank Dr. Anderson, her WVU lab mates and colleagues, and her friends and family for their support during her doctoral training at WVU.