Antonello Bonci, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Cellular Neurobiology Research Branch, Synaptic Plasticity Section


Scientific Director


Biomedical Research Center
251 Bayview Boulevard
Suite 200, Room 01B606
Baltimore, MD 21224


Research Topics

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. Stuber GD, Sparta DR, Stamatakis AM, van Leeuwen WA, Hardjoprajitno JE, Cho S, Tye KM, Kempadoo KA, Zhang F, Deisseroth K, Bonci A. Excitatory transmission from the amygdala to nucleus accumbens facilitates reward seeking. Nature. 2011;475(7356):377-80.

  2. Hopf FW, Bowers MS, Chang SJ, Chen BT, Martin M, Seif T, Cho SL, Tye K, Bonci A. Reduced nucleus accumbens SK channel activity enhances alcohol seeking during abstinence. Neuron. 2010;65(5):682-94.

  3. Stuber GD, Klanker M, de Ridder B, Bowers MS, Joosten RN, Feenstra MG, Bonci A. Reward-predictive cues enhance excitatory synaptic strength onto midbrain dopamine neurons. Science. 2008;321(5896):1690-2.

  4. Ungless MA, Whistler JL, Malenka RC, Bonci A. Single cocaine exposure in vivo induces long-term potentiation in dopamine neurons. Nature. 2001;411(6837):583-7.

This page was last updated on November 2nd, 2018