Catharine A. Winstanley


Contact via University of British Columbia


Key Research Areas
Associated Researchers
Associated Organizations

Recent Research Projects

Neuroinflammation at the nexus of stimulant addiction, impulsivity and traumatic brain injury

2016/17-2019/20 • $501,705 • PI,CO
Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of a drug treatment for the long-term cognitive impairments caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI). There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for any cognitive problem associated with TBI. While there are a number of groups working on...

Central and peripheral determinants of acute and persistent joint pain

2016/17-2019/20 • $393,716 • PI,CO
Pain with motion, pain at rest, pain at night, sharp pain, dull pain-pain is highly variable among and within those afflicted with arthritis. Much is now known about joint tissue changes in arthritis, but only a little is known about how pain that begins in the joint makes its way to the spinal...

The effects of reward cues on risky decision making: the role of dopamine and relevance to addiction

2018/19-2019/20 • $306,000 • PI,CO
In addicted people, exposure to things like drug paraphernalia (known as contextual cues) is believed to trigger cravings, drug use and relapse. Exactly how cues promote such outcomes remains poorly understood. One possibility is that cues influence decision-making and tip the scales in favor of...

Risky decision making as a cause, consequence and treatment target for addiction.

2019/20 • $194,310 • PI
Whether someone is dependent on a chemical substance like cocaine, or has developed a behavioural addiction such as gambling disorder, the maladaptive choice to pursue the addiction at the expense of other goals lies at the heart of the problem. Indeed, individuals with an addiction disorder, or...

Exploring the role of D4 receptors in controlling reward expectancy in a rat model of slot machine play.

2013/14-2016/17 • $279,640 • PI
As opportunities to gamble continue to grow in our society, pathological gambling (PG) is increasingly recognised as a significant public health concern. However, effective treatments remain elusive. Among those who seek treatment for PG, compulsive engagement in slot machine play is the most...

Understanding the risks of risky choice: poor cost/benefit decision making as a cause, consequence and treatment target for addiction?

2016/17 • $100,000 • PI
If we knew why some individuals are catastrophically affected by addictions, whereas others are able to simply enjoy addictive drugs and past-times recreationally, we would be able to design effective treatments to help vulnerable individuals. Whether someone is dependent on a chemical substance...

Behavioural and neural substrates of individual differences in placebo response

2015/16-2016/17 • $93,751 • Scholarship/Fellowship,Other
A placebo effect is a physiological and/or psychological response to an inert intervention believed to be potent. Though some individuals are more susceptible to placebo effects than others, little is known about determinants of these individual differences. Expectation of benefit - or reward...

Determining the effects of monoaminergic regulation of frontostriatal systems in different aspects of impulsive decision-making.

2010/11-2015/16 • $295,000 • PI
Impulsivity is a characteristic of human behavior that can be both beneficial and detrimental in our everyday lives. An impulsive decision can allow us to seize a valuable opportunity or make a disastrous choice which we live to regret. High levels of impulsivity are not only considered socially...

Novel Methods of Cognitive Assessment in a Preclinical Model of Frontal Traumatic Brain Injury

2013/14-2015/16 • $135,000 • Scholarship/Fellowship,Other
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major problem worldwide. Each year, more than 10 million people suffer a TBI. Sadly, despite over 25 years of research and many clinical trials, to date, there are no pharmaceutical treatments for TBI. This has been attributed in part to a lack of preclinical...

Effects of chronic D2/3 agonist ropinirole medication and a D4 antagonist on gambling behaviour in a 6-OHDA rodent model of Parkinson's disease

2014/15-2015/16 • $105,000 • Scholarship/Fellowship,Other
This project aims to investigate the involvement of specific dopamine receptors on models of gambling behaviour, both in normal rats and in a rodent model of Parkinson's disease (PD). The more traditional drug treatment for PD, L-DOPA, has been shown over time to produce debilitating...

Determining the effects of monoaminergic regulation of frontostriatal systems in different aspects of impulsive decision-making.

2010/11-2014/15 • $564,700 • PI
Impulsivity is a characteristic of human behavior that can be both beneficial and detrimental in our everyday lives. An impulsive decision can allow us to seize a valuable opportunity or make a disastrous choice which we live to regret. High levels of impulsivity are not only considered socially...

Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation for the treatment of Impulse Control Disorders

2010/11-2013/14 • $179,477 • PI
The lack of control of impulsivity (i.e. Impulse Control Disorders; ICD) can lead to various disorders that encompass drug addiction, pathological gambling, compulsive shopping, binge eating, hypersexuality. In the past years, the role of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) in impulsivity has been...

Disentangling the neural circuitry and neurochemistry of cognitive effort in rodent models of cost/benefit decision-making

2012/13-2013/14 • $70,000 • Scholarship/Fellowship,Other
We are constantly confronted with decisions involving both benefits and associated costs. One such type of decision involves whether we should exert effort in order to obtain a reward. We may choose to be lazy, expending minimal energy or resources for a minimal reward, or we may choose to work...

Investigating the behavioural and biomolecular effects of the mood stabilizer lithium on impulsivity in rats.

2010/11 • $17,500 • Scholarship/Fellowship,Other
Lithium is a pharmaceutical drug widely used to treat bipolar disorder, which is a mood disorder characterized by alternating states of mania and depression. Current literature suggests that lithium treatment within this population is associated with lower suicide rates. One of the key symptoms...

Patents