Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis campus only



First Advisor

Gerard M.J. Beaudoin

Second Advisor

Kimberley Phillips


The substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) is implicated in cocaine addiction due to increased NMDA receptor-mediated current found after acute cocaine exposure. The present study seeks to determine if this increase is driven by a subunit change that decreases magnesium blockage of the receptor and thus increases current. To test this, NMDA receptor-mediated current was isolated and recorded at holding voltages from -80 mV to +40 mV. It was found that at negative holding voltages, NMDA receptors conduct more current, potentially indicating that a subunit change occurs. However, more data collection will be needed to affirm these results. Continued support of a subunit change hypothesis would give researchers more knowledge on the cellular mechanisms of early-stage cocaine addiction, and provide guidance when investigating potential treatment options.