Publications by authors named "Julien C Dodu"

2 Publications

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Delta-9-THC exposure during zebra finch sensorimotor vocal learning increases cocaine reinforcement in adulthood.

Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2019 10 23;185:172764. Epub 2019 Aug 23.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, United States of America. Electronic address:

Zebra finches are songbirds that learn vocal patterns during a sensitive period of development that approximates adolescence. Exposure of these animals to a cannabinoid agonist during their period of sensorimotor vocal learning alters song patterns produced in adulthood. Thus, songbirds have unique value in studying developmental effects of drug exposure on a naturally learned behavior. A missing feature of this animal model has been a method to study drug reinforcement of behavior. To address this gap we have adapted place conditioning methods, used previously to determine that singing behavior is rewarding, to study cocaine reinforcement of behavior. We have found that cocaine dose-dependently reinforces both place conditioning and aversion at potencies consistent with those observed in mammalian species. Use of this place conditioning method has allowed us to determine that, when administered during periods of sensorimotor vocal learning, delta-9-THC, but not nicotine persistently increases sensitivity to cocaine through adulthood. Establishment of this method significantly expands the songbird drug exposure model, and holds promise for better appreciation of mechanisms important to sensorimotor learning that is dependent upon successful progress through sensitive periods of CNS development.
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October 2019

Cannabidiol improves vocal learning-dependent recovery from, and reduces magnitude of deficits following, damage to a cortical-like brain region in a songbird pre-clinical animal model.

Neuropharmacology 2019 11 17;158:107716. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, ECU Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, NC, 27834, USA. Electronic address:

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-euphorigenic compound derived from Cannabis, shows promise for improving recovery following cerebral ischemia and has recently been shown effective for the treatment of childhood seizures caused by Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. Given evidence for activity to mitigate effects of CNS insult and dysfunction, we considered the possibility that CBD may also protect and improve functional recovery of a complex learned behavior. To test this hypothesis, we have applied a songbird, the adult male zebra finch, as a novel pre-clinical animal model. Their learned vocalizations were temporarily disrupted with bilateral microlesions of HVC (used as a proper name) a pre-vocal motor cortical-like brain region that drives song. These microlesions destroy about 10% of HVC, and temporarily impair song production, syntax and phonology for about seven days. Recovery requires sensorimotor learning as it depends upon auditory feedback. Four CBD doses (0, 1, 10 and 100 mg/kg) within three surgery conditions (microlesion, no-microlesion, sham-microlesion) were evaluated (n = 5-6). Birds were recorded over 20 days: three baseline; six pre-microlesion drug treatment days and; 11 post-microlesion treatment and recovery days. Results indicate 10 and 100 mg/kg CBD effectively reduced the time required to recover vocal phonology and syntax. In the case of phonology, the magnitude of microlesion-related disruptions were also reduced. These results suggest CBD holds promise to improve functional recovery of complex learned behaviors following brain injury, and represent establishment of an important new animal model to screen drugs for efficacy to improve vocal recovery.
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November 2019