CDART's Missions


  • The primary scientific mission of CDART is to determine how biological substrates, affect, and interpersonal contexts affect individual differences that are important in drug abuse vulnerability. Our past work has identified urgency, one of four distinct personality traits that underlie impulsive behaviors, as having important effects on substance use and other risky and violent behaviors, even when controlling for novelty and reward seeking and lack of inhibition. In the current phase of the center, we focus on better understanding the nature of urgency and the mechanisms through which it exerts its effects. A major goal is to adapt and evaluate a preventative intervention for individuals high in urgency.
  • The Center also seeks to facilitate the translation of research findings between the basic and prevention sciences using a multidisciplinary approach. For example, our basic neurobiological work in both rats and humans indicate that similar limbic and prefrontal cortical brain regions are involved processing of arousing (novel) stimuli among individuals who are either high or low in sensation seeking. We are now conducting similar experiments to determine what brain regions may be activated differentially among individuals who are either high or low in urgency (mood-based rash action). To the extent that different neurobiologically-based facets of impulsivity are associated with different pathways to risk, we hypothesize that preventive interventions that specifically target these facets will be preferentially effective in reducing risk along these paths. A long-term goal of our Center is to design biologically-relevant preventive interventions tailored to individuals moving along the trajectory toward abuse during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.