Ep. 30: Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Pain and Addiction with Waylin Yu

Connor Wander talked to Waylin Yu about his research in the overlap of pain, negative emotion, and addiction.  Waylin studies the fundamental roles of neurons in different areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, that may be responsible for these reactions, both independently and in relation to each other.  This includes chronic pain, anxiety, and alcohol and drug dependence, looking at activity in dopamine pathways, which play a role in reward-motivated behavior, and GABA, an important inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Hyperalgesia is an increased sensitivity to pain that can be caused by damage to neurons.  Nociception is the response of the nervous system to pain and harmful stimuli.

About Waylin

Originally hailing from Northern California, Waylin ventured eastward into salmon shorts and Sperry country for his undergraduate studies, where he graduated from Colby College with a BA in Psychology and Neuroscience.  There, he investigated the neuroprotective properties of choline in rodent models of depression and schizophrenia with Dr. Melissa J. Glenn.  Currently pursuing a PhD in Pharmacology at UNC Chapel Hill, Waylin is researching the neural circuitry of pain, aversion, and addiction by applying cutting-edge techniques like optogenetics, in vivo calcium imaging, and electrophysiology towards circuit-specific manipulations.

Connect with Waylin on Twitter

Learn more

Find more information, publications, and Waylin’s email address on the UNC Kash Lab website.

Read accessible psychology and neuroscience articles on the PsychNeuro Blog.

New project Neurator Blog to be announced!

Reference papers

Mu opioid receptor modulation of dopamine neurons in the periaqueductal gray/dorsal raphe: a role in regulation of pain.

Alcohol dependence as a chronic pain disorder.

Dorsal raphe dopamine neurons modulate arousal and promote wakefulness by salient stimuli.

Contribution of dopamine receptors to periaqueductal gray-mediated antinociception.

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