Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Frederick G. Moeller

Committee Member

David A. Nielsen

Committee Member

Scott D. Lane

Committee Member

Alan C. Swann

Committee Member

Thomas J. Goka


Animal studies have shown that behavioral responses to cocaine-related cues are altered by serotonergic medications. The effects of pharmacological agents on serotonin receptors 2a (5-HT2A) and 2c (5-HT2C), have yielded results suggesting that selective 5-HT2A antagonists and 5-HT2C agonists promote the disruption of cocaine-associated memories. One measure of cocaine related cues in humans is attentional bias, in which cocaine dependent individuals show greater response latency for cocaine related words than neutral words. Data from our laboratory shows that cocaine dependent subjects have altered attentional bias compared to controls. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the role of the serotonin system in attentional bias and impulsivity in cocaine dependent individuals. We focused on the serotonin transporter, serotonin receptors 2A and 2C and tryptophan hydroxylase 1 and 2 (TPH1 and TPH2). We predicted that attentional bias and impulsivity would be higher in cocaine dependent individuals who had lower serotonin function. In the current study, we found a significant association between TPH2 genotype and attentional bias for the second block of the cocaine Stroop task. There was also a significant association between average attentional bias and HTTLPR genotype in the cocaine dependent individuals. The HT2C receptor genotype and attentional bias in our study sample also showed a significant difference. We did not find a significant difference between the serotonin 2A receptor variants or the TPH1 variants and attentional bias in the cocaine dependent group. In conclusion, the current study suggests that serotonergic medications should be utilized as pharmacotherapeutic treatment for cocaine addiction. Our results indicate that TPH2, the serotonin transporter and 2C receptor should be targeted in such a way as to modulate both, leading to increased synaptic serotonin function.


cocaine dependence attentional bias serotonin polymorphisms impulsivity



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