pp 1-28 | Cite as

Modelling Differential Vulnerability to Substance Use Disorder in Rodents: Neurobiological Mechanisms

  • Bianca Jupp
  • Jolyon A. Jones
  • Jeffrey W. DalleyEmail author
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series


Despite the prevalence of drug use within society, only a subset of individuals actively taking addictive drugs lose control over their intake and develop compulsive drug-seeking and intake that typifies substance use disorder (SUD). Although research in this field continues to be an important and dynamic discipline, the specific neuroadaptations that drive compulsive behaviour in humans addicted to drugs and the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie an individual’s innate susceptibility to SUD remain surprisingly poorly understood. Nonetheless, it is clear from research within the clinical domain that some behavioural traits are recurrently co-expressed in individuals with SUD, thereby inviting the hypothesis that certain behavioural endophenotypes may be predictive, or at least act in some way, to modify an individual’s probability for developing this disorder. The analysis of such endophenotypes and their catalytic relationship to the expression of addiction-related behaviours has been greatly augmented by experimental approaches in rodents that attempt to capture diagnostically relevant aspects of this progressive brain disorder. This work has evolved from an early focus on aberrant drug reinforcement mechanisms to a now much richer account of the putatively impaired cognitive control processes that ultimately determine individual trajectories to compulsive drug-related behaviours. In this chapter we discuss the utility of experimental approaches in rodents designed to elucidate the neurobiological and genetic underpinnings of so-called risk traits and how these innate vulnerabilities collectively contribute to the pathogenesis of SUD.


Anxiety Cocaine Impulsivity Nucleus accumbens Prefrontal cortex Reward 



The author’s research was funded by a Medical Research Council (MRC) Programme Grant (G1002231) and by a core award from the MRC (G1000183) and Wellcome Trust (093875/Z/10/Z) to the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute at Cambridge University. BJ is supported by the MRC and recent fellowships from the AXA Research Fund, the National Health and MRC of Australia and the Cambridge Newton Trust. JJ was supported by an MRC Doctoral Training Programme grant at Cambridge University. JWD has received grants from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH and GlaxoSmithKline. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bianca Jupp
    • 1
  • Jolyon A. Jones
    • 1
  • Jeffrey W. Dalley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryAddenbrooke’s HospitalCambridgeUK

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