A National Research Priority Program of  
the

Logo der Deutschen Forschungsgesellschaft

Funding Period 2011 - 2013

P10

Impact of the nicotinergic alpha7 receptor on cortical plasticity in smokers and non-smokers (NI 683/4-2)


PD Dr. med. Michael Nitsche (Principle Investigator)
University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40

37075 Goettingen

+49-551-39-12631
mnitsch1(at)gwdg.de

Together with:

 

Prof. Dr. Walter Paulus
University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40

37075 Goettingen
+49-(0)551/39-6650

wpaulus(at)med.uni-goettingen.de

Dr. Jessica Grundey

University of Goettingen
Dept. of Clinical Neurophysiology
Robert-Koch-Strasse 40

37075 Goettingen

+49 551 39-8457

Jgrundey(at)med.uni-goettingen.de

 

 

Nicotine is a strong inductor and modulator of cortical activity and long-term potentiation. Hereby it influences learning and memory processes as well as addiction. Nicotine-dependent cognitive improvements in humans seem to differ between smoking and not smoking individuals, as presumed by the "deficit compensating hypothesis" of nicotine consumption. This project pursues the following aims: (i) First we will differentiate acute cortical excitability shifts elicited by nicotine in smokers and non-smokers (Collaboration with Prof. Wodarz). (ii) We will induce LTPand LTD-like cortical neuroplasticity changes by transcranial direct current stimulation with and without nicotine in smokers and non-smokers, (iii) We will correlate nicotineenhanced neuroplasticity with cognitive performance and performance-related cerebral activity, as revealed by fMRI, in smokers and non-smokers, (iv) The interdependence of neurophysiological and cognitive effects with genetically defined phenotypes (collaboration with Prof. Winterer) of smokers will be explored. In summary, we aim to develop a neurophysiology-based in vivo model of the impact of nicotine on cerebral function, which will help to understand the mechanisms of nicotine addiction and relapse after withdrawal to a greater extent.