Psychology Researcher on Neurobiology and Combating Alcohol Abuse

The New Yorker
2021

Roberto Cofresí, a researcher in psychological sciences, was highlighted in The New Yorker Magazine for his expertise in neurobiology. Cofresí is seeking to apply what scientists know about neurobiology of conditioned behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse. According to Cofresí, learning enough about the neurobiology of conditioned responses to alcohol in the human brain could lead to finding ways to “disrupt or dampen that phenomenon.” This could lead to development of drugs that reduce cravings and relapses, creating a more targeted approach compared to what current drugs in the market do.  

Cofresí describes a common alcoholic-conditioning experiment with rats to demonstrate how memory and addiction can go hand in hand. Associating an addiction with a memory can cause triggers; therefore, substituting alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks as a form of recovery won’t always bring the anticipated result. Cofresí thinks that this experiment with rats serves as a model for what happens when a person has a relapse, which can become a high-risk situation for an individual on a path to recovery.  

Cofresí suggests that understanding what happens in the human brain can lead to better research for developing better drugs and treatments for alcohol abuse and addiction.  

You can learn more about Cofresí’s insights here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/09/27/an-ex-drinkers-search-for-a-sober-buzz