Impulses are strong motivational urges to pursue or consume rewards, including drugs and alcohol; self-control embodies the capacity to resist these impulses. Addictive behaviors can be conceived of as circumstances where the desire to consume drugs or alcohol overwhelms the capacity for self-control and are therefore linked with the phenomenon of impulsivity. Importantly, data from both animal models and human subjects indicate that inherited individual differences in impulsivity often predate the initiation of drug use and represent vulnerability for the initiation of harmful drug intake. However, there is little known about the biological, including genetic, mechanisms that explain the relationship between impulsivity and addiction.
Using the Collaborative Cross and Diversity Outbred mouse populations, this project seeks to identify the potentially multidimensional genetic relationships between aspects of impulsive behavior and addiction-related traits, such as intravenous drug self-administration. It also seeks to identify genes and gene co-expression networks that correlate with, and may be causal influences on, impulsivity and its relationship to addictions. This project represents the deepest phenotypic and genomic analysis of impulsivity yet conducted and will expose new biological influences on inter-individual differences in addiction liability.