Dr. Steven Laviolette
Ph.D. University of Toronto
B.Sc. University of Toronto
Office: 468 Medical Sciences Building
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext. 80302
Dr. Laviolette's research explores the interface between neurobiology, psychology and emotion by using an integrative combination of in vivo neuronal electrophysiology and behavioural neuropharmacology, molecular signaling analyses and neurodevelopmental models of drug exposure.
Dr. Laviolette’s translational neuropsychiatry research program focuses on the neurobiological and molecular mechanisms underlying various psychiatric disorders, including addiction, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD and anxiety. We are particularly interested in how the mammalian brain is influenced by chronic drug exposure (including opioids, nicotine and cannabinoids) during vulnerable periods of development (such as during adolescence or pre-natal periods) and how signaling through the brain’s cannabinoid, dopamine, GABAergic and serotonergic receptor systems can control emotional processing in specific brain circuits. Our primary neural regions of interest include the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus and the mesolimbic dopamine pathway.
Recently, we have been examining how specific phytochemical constituents of cannabis, such as THC and cannabidiol, can differentially control brain pathways related to emotional processing, memory formation and cognitive dysregulation present in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Research in Dr. Laviolette’s laboratory is identifying unique molecular signaling pathways by which cannabis-derived phytochemicals may serve as pharmacotherapies for specific mental health disorders including schizophrenia, addiction, depression and anxiety. Dr. Laviolette has been the recipient of numerous national and international research awards, including, a C.I.H.R. New Investigator Fellowship, an Early Researcher Award from the Province of Ontario, the Young Investigator Award from N.A.R.S.A.D, a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation and the Leader’s Opportunity Fund from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. Dr. Laviolette currently serves on Review Panels for the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. He is a member of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran’s Health Research and is the former Chair of the Review Committee for the Ontario Mental Health Foundation.
Szkudlarek HJ,Desai SJ, Renard J, Pereira B, Norris C, Jobson CEL,Rajakumar N, Allman BL, Laviolette SR (2018). Δ-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Produce Dissociable Effects on Prefrontal Cortical Executive Function and Regulation of Affective Behaviours. Neuropsychopharmacology.
Jobson CLM, Renard J, Szkudlarek H, Rosen LG, Pereira B, Wright DJ, Rushlow W, Laviolette SR. (2018) Adolescent Nicotine Exposure Induces Dysregulation of Mesocorticolimbic Activity States and Depressive and Anxiety-like Prefrontal Cortical Molecular Phenotypes Persisting into Adulthood. Cerebral Cortex. 2018 Aug 15 (E-Pub ahead of Print)
Jing Li J, Szkudlarek H, Renard J, Hudson R, Rushlow W, Laviolette SR. (2018) Fear Memory Recall Potentiates Opiate Reward Sensitivity through Dissociable Dopamine D1 versus D4 Receptor-Dependent Memory Mechanisms in the Prefrontal Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 38(19):4543-4555.
Fitoussi A, Zunder J, Tan H, Laviolette SR. (2018) Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol potentiates fear memory salience through functional modulation of mesolimbic dopaminergic activity states. Eur J Neurosci. 47(11):1385-1400.
Renard J, Szkudlarek HJ, Kramar CP, Jobson CEL, Moura K, Rushlow WJ, Laviolette SR. (2017) Adolescent THC Exposure Causes Enduring Prefrontal Cortical Disruption of GABAergic Inhibition and Dysregulation of Sub-Cortical Dopamine Function. Scientific Reports. 7(1):11420.
Rosen LG, Rushlow WJ, Laviolette SR. (2017) Opiate exposure state controls dopamine D3 receptor and cdk5/calcineurin signaling in the basolateral amygdala during reward and withdrawal aversion memory formation. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 79:59-66.
Renard J, Rosen LG, Loureiro M, De Oliveira C, Schmid S, Rushlow WJ, Laviolette SR. (2017) Adolescent Cannabinoid Exposure Induces a Persistent Sub-Cortical Hyper-Dopaminergic State and Associated Molecular Adaptations in the Prefrontal Cortex. Cerebral Cortex. 27(2):1297-1310.
Norris C, Loureiro M, Kramar C, Zunder J, Renard J, Rushlow W, Laviolette SR. (2016) Cannabidiol Modulates Fear Memory Formation Through Interactions with Serotonergic Transmission in the Mesolimbic System. Neuropsychopharmacology. 41(12):2839-2850.
Ahmad, T., Lyons, D., Sun, N., Laviolette, SR (2016) Bi-Directional Cannabinoid Signaling in the Basolateral Amygdala Controls Rewarding and Aversive Emotional Processing via Functional Regulation of the Nucleus Accumbens. Addiction Biology 22(5):1218-1231.
Renard J, Loureiro M, Rosen L, Zunder J, DeOliveira C, Schmid S, Rushlow W, Laviolette SR. (2016) Cannabidiol Counteracts Amphetamine-Induced Neuronal and Behavioural Sensitization of the Mesolimbic Dopamine Pathway through a Novel mTOR/p70S6 Kinase Signaling Pathway. Journal of Neuroscience 36:5160-5169.
Rosen LG, Zunder J, Renard J, Fu J, Rushlow W, Laviolette SR. (2016) Opiate Exposure State Controls a D2-CaMKIIα-Dependent Memory Switch in the Amygdala-Prefrontal Cortical Circuit. Neuropsychopharmacology. 41:847-57.
Loureiro M, Kramar C, Renard J, Rosen LG, Laviolette SR. (2016) Cannabinoid Transmission in the Hippocampus Activates Nucleus Accumbens Neurons and Modulates Reward and Aversion-Related Emotional Salience. Biological Psychiatry. 1;80(3):216-25.
Loureiro M, Renard J, Zunder J, Laviolette SR. (2015) Hippocampal cannabinoid transmission modulates dopamine neuron activity: impact on rewarding memory formation and social interaction. Neuropsychopharmacology. 40:1436-47.