2016: Casey Frye

Utah State University

Casey Frye earned a BA in philosophy and a BS in psychology at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). At IUPUI he was a research assistant in Dr. Nicholas Grahame’s laboratory, where he was involved in several delay discounting studies with high and low alcohol-preferring mice. Casey then went on to Southern Illinois University (SIU) to study in the brain and cognitive sciences program under the guidance of Dr. Eric Jacobs. At SIU he was trained in the philosophy of radical behaviorism and single-subject methodology. His research at SIU consisted of investigation of magnitude effects on percentile schedule performance, behavior on accumulation tasks (i.e., inhibition), and foraging behavior, all with rats as the subjects. He is completing his Ph.D. at Utah State University (USU) under the guidance of Dr. Amy Odum. At USU, his research has focused on delay discounting, development of an animal model of prescription opiate abuse, operant variability, and animal models of relapse.


Casey's dissertation grant is for a project investigating the effects of nicotine on resurgence of ethanol seeking. One effect of nicotine  ingestion is to increase the value of other environmental stimuli. Casey will assess the degree to which the reward-enhancing properties of ethanol influence resurgence of alcohol seeking. One group of rats will be continuously exposed to nicotine throughout the study (experimental group), and the other will be continuously exposed to saline (control group). Both groups will be run through a typical resurgence procedure to assess differences in resurgence of alcohol seeking. There is evidence that nicotine increases the value of ethanol and, if the study finds that continued nicotine exposure increases the probability and/or intensity of relapse toward alcohol seeking after successful treatment, then nicotine abstinence may be a future target for mitigating this relapse-inducing effect. A large proportion of people in treatment for alcohol use disorder use nicotine, which makes the implications of these findings socially relevant.


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