We are hiring! The Ferrario lab seeks graduate and post graduate trainees interested in the neurobiology of motivation, glutamatergic plasticity, addiction and obesity.

Job descriptions can be found here:Job postings

Pictured left to right top: Amanda Catalfio , Limmy Kim, Yanaira Alonso Caraballo, Carrie Ferrario, Rachel Springsdorf, Emma Bergman, Sophia Dulap; Bottom row: Jacob Ormes, Julie Finnell, Allison Nieto, Tracy Fetterly.

Research Overview:

Our goal is to understand the neuro-biological mechanisms that contribute to over-eating, obesity and drug addiction. We focus on identifying and understanding alterations in excitatory transmission and plasticity within the brain's "reward pathway" that contribute to these conditions. To accomplish this, we use a variety of approaches including behavioral pharmacology, biochemistry, and slice electrophysiology.

Visit our student resources page to learn more about graduate and undergraduate research opportunities.

The Ferrario lab is part of:

The Department of Pharmacology: https://medicine.umich.edu/dept/pharmacology

The Neuroscience Graduate Program: http://neuroscience.med.umich.edu/

The Michigan Diabetes Research Center: http://diabetesresearch.med.umich.edu/

Current Funding:

R01DK106188: Alterations in Motivated Behavior in Rodent Models of Obesity awarded by NIH-NIDDK; 2015-2021

R01DK115526: Effects of insulin on NAc excitatory transmission and motivation for food awarded by NIH-NIDDK; 2018-2021

R01DA044204: Animal models of Addiction awarded by NIH-NIDA; 2018-2023 Co-I: Carrie Ferrario, PI: Terry Robinson

T32DA07268: Biology of Drug Addiction from NIH-NIDA; Co-I: Carrie Ferrario, PI: John Traynor

Past Funding:

R21DA045277: Exploring the link between reactive oxygen species and CP-AMPAR up-regulation in addiction awarded by NIH-NIDA; 2018-2020; Co-I: Carrie Ferrario, Co-I: Travis Brown



  1. Alonso-Caraballo Y, Fetterly TL, Jorgensen ET, Brown TE, Ferrario CR; Sex specific effects of “junk-food” diet on calcium permeable AMPA receptors and silent synapses in the nucleus accumbens core (2021) Neuropsychopharmacology Feb;46(3):569-578. doi: 10.1038/s41386-020-0781-1. Epub 2020

  2. Fetterly TL, Oginsky MF, Nieto AM, Alonso-Caraballo Y, Santana-Rodriguez Z, and Ferrario CR; Insulin enhances presynaptic glutamate release in the nucleus accumbens via opioid receptor-mediated disinhibition. (2021) Journal of Neuroscience; 41(11):2360-2372. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3216-18.2021. Epub 2021 Jan 29. PMID: 33514676 PMCID: PMC7984597 http://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/517797v1

  3. Ferrario, CR; Why did I eat that? Contributions of individual differences in incentive motivation and nucleus accumbens plasticity to obesity (2020) Physiol and Beh 227:113114. PMID: 32777311 Invited Review

  4. Samaha AN, Khoo SS-Y, Ferrario CR, Robinson TE; Dopamine ‘ups and downs’ in Addiction Revisited (2021) Trends in Neuroscience 44(7):516-526. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2021.03.003. PMID: 33892963 PMCID: PMC8222102

  5. Robinson TE, Khoo SS-Y, Ferrario CR, Samaha AN; Studying dopamine in addiction: the cart should follow the horse. (2021) Trends in Neuroscience 44(8):595-596. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2021.06.008; PMID: 34320335

  6. Newman M and Ferrario CR; An improved demand curve for analysis of food or drug consumption in animal experiments (2020) Psychopharmacology 237(4), 943-955. Preprint: bioRxiv 765461; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/765461

  7. Carr CC, Ferrario CR, Robinson TE; Intermittent access cocaine self-administration produces psychomotor sensitization: effects of withdrawal, sex and cross-sensitization (2020) Psychopharamcology 237(6), 1795-1812, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/859520; bioRxiv 859520

  8. Derman RC, Bass CE, and Ferrario CR (2020) Effects of hM4Di activation in CamKII basolateral amygdala neurons and CNO treatment on Sensory-Specific vs. General-PIT; refining PIT circuits and considerations for using CNO. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2020 May;237(5):1249-1266. doi: 10.1007/s00213-020-05453-8. Epub 2020 Jan 24. PubMed PMID: 31980843; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7196513.

  9. Derman RC and Ferrario CR (2020) Affective Pavlovian motivation is enhanced in obesity susceptible populations; implications for incentive motivation in obesity. Behav Brain Res. Nov 21;380:112318. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112318. [Epub ahead of print] Preprint: doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/657833 http://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/657833v1

  10. Dingess PM, Zhang Z, Sorg BA, Ferrario CR, Brown TE (2020). Sex and region-specific effects of high fat diet on PNNs in obesity susceptible rats. Physiology and Behavior 222; 1112963

  11. Alonso-Caraballo Y and Ferrario CR (2019) Effects of the estrous cycle and ovarian hormones on cue-triggered motivation and intrinsic excitability of medium spiny neurons in the Nucleus Accumbens core of female rats. Horm Behav. 116; 104583. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.104583. [Epub ahead of print]; Preprint: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/669804v1; https://doi.org/10.1101/669804 PMID: 31454509 PMCID: PMC7256930

  12. Oginsky MF and Ferrario CR (2019) Eating “junk-food” has opposite effects on intrinsic excitability of nucleus accumbens core neurons in obesity-susceptible vs. -resistant rats. J. Neurophysiol 122(3):1264-1273. Preprint: http://biorxiv.org/cgi/content/short/658971v1 PMID:31365322 PMCID:PMC6766731

  13. Pettibone JR, Yu JY, Derman RC, Faust TW, Hughes ED, Filipiak WE, Saunders TL, Ferrario CR and Berke JD (2019) Knock-in rat lines with Cre recombinase at the dopamine D1 and adenosine 2a receptor loci. eNeuro. 6(5) doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0163-19.2019. [Epub ahead of print]; Preprint: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/11/13/455337 PMID:31451604 PMCID:PMC6776791

  14. Alonso-Caraballo Y, Hodgson KJ, Morgan SA, Ferrario, CR, Vollbrecht PJ (2019) Enhanced anxiety-like behavior emerges with weight gain in male and female obesity-susceptible rats. Beh Brain Res 360:81-93. PMID:30521928 PMCID:PMC6462400

  15. Alonso-Caraballo Y, Jorgensen ET, Brown TE, and Ferrario CR (2018) Functional and structural plasticity contributing to obesity: roles for sex, diet, and individual susceptibility. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 23: 160-170. PMID:31058203 PMCID:PMC6497077 Invited Review

  16. Derman RC and Ferrario CR (2018) Junk-food enhances conditioned approach to a previously established food cue, but does not alter cue potentiated feeding; implications for the effects of palatable diets on incentive motivation Physiol & Beh. 192:145-157. PMID:29555195 PMCID:PMC6028181

  17. Derman RC and Ferrario CR (2018) Enhanced incentive motivation in obesity-prone rats is mediated by NAc CP-AMPARs. Neuropharmacology 131:326-336. PMID:29291424 PMCID:PMC6010194 F1000 Prime Recommendation: https://f1000.com/prime/732389019#

  18. Senese N, Oginsky M, Neubig RR, Ferrario CR, Jutkiewicz EM (2018) Role of hippocampal 5-HT1A receptors in the antidepressant-like phenotype of mice expressing RGS-insensitive Gai2 protein. Neuropharmacology. 141: 296-304.

  19. Ferrario CR and Regan LP (2018). Insulin-mediated synaptic plasticity in the CNS: anatomical, functional and temporal contexts; Invited Review; Neuropharmacology 136: 182-191 PMID:29217283 PMCID:PMC5988909

  20. Vollbrecht PJ, Nesbitt KM, Mabrouk OS, Chadderdon AM, Jutkiewicz EM, Kennedy RT, and Ferrario CR (2018) Cocaine and desipramine elicit distinct striatal noradrenergic and behavioral responses in selectively bred obesity-resistant and obesity-prone rats Beh Brain Research. 346:137-143. [Epub ahead of print, 2017] PMID:29129597 PMCID:PMC5860948

  21. Ferrario CR (2017) Food Addiction and Obesity. Invited Commentary; Neuropsychopharm 42:361 PMID:27909324 PMCID: PMC5143510

  1. Bosse KE, Oginsky MF, Susick LL, Ramalingam S, Ferrario CR, Conti AC (2017) Adenylyl Cyclase 1 Is Required for Ethanol-Induced Locomotor Sensitization and Associated Increases in NMDA Receptor Phosphorylation and Function in the Dorsal Medial Striatum. The J. of Pharmacol and Exp. Ther. 363:148-155.

  2. Dingess PM, Darling RA, Derman RC, Wulff SS Hunter ML Ferrario CR, and Brown TE (2017) Structural and Functional Plasticity within the Nucleus Accumbens and Prefrontal Cortex Associated with Time-Dependent Increases in Food Cue-Seeking Behavior. Neuropsychopharm 42:2354-2364. PMID:28294131 PMCID:PMC5645745

  3. Oginsky MF, Goforth PB, Nobile CW, Lopez-Santiago LF, and Ferrario CR (2016) Eating “junk-food” produces rapid and long-lasting increases in NAc CP-AMPA receptors; implications for enhanced cue-induced motivation and food addiction. Featured Article Neuropsychopharm 41(13):2977-2986. PMID: 27383008 PMCID:PMC5101548

  1. Ferrario CR, Labouèbe G, Liu S, Nieh EH, Routh VH, Xu S, O’Connor EC. Homeostasis Meets Motivation in the Battle to Control Food Intake (2016). Invited Review; J Neurosci 36:111469-11481.

  2. Oginsky MF, Maust J, Corthell JT, Ferrario CR (2016) Enhanced cocaine-induced locomotor sensitization and intrinsic excitability of NAc medium spiny neurons in rats susceptible to diet-induced obesity. Psychopharm 233(5):773-84. PMID: 26612617 PMCID:PMC4752900

  3. Vollbrecht PJ, Mabrouk OS, Nelson AD, Kennedy, RT, Ferrario, CR (2016) Pre-existing differences and diet-induced alterations in striatal dopamine systems of obesity-prone rats. Obesity 24(3):670-7. MID: 26847484 PMCID:PMC4855850

  4. Meyer PJ, King CP, Ferrario CR (2016) Motivational processes underlying substance abuse disorder. Book Chapter; Curr Top Behav Neurosci 27:473-506. Epub ahead of print Oct 17, 2015. NIHMSID: 780389

  5. Vollbrecht PJ, Nobile CW, Chadderdon AM, Jutkiewicz EM, Ferrario CR (2015) Pre-existing differences in motivation for food and sensitivity to cocaine-induced locomotion in obesity-prone rats. Physiol and Beh 152(Pt A):151-60. PMID:26423787 PMCID:PMC4633384

  6. Robinson MJF, Burghardt PR, Patterson CM, Nobile CW, Akil H, Watson SJ, Berridge KC, Ferrario CR (2015) Individual Differences in Cue-Induced Motivation and Striatal Systems in Rats Susceptible to Diet-Induced Obesity. Neuropsychopharmacology 40(9):2113-23. PMCID: PMC4613617. See also: F1000 Prime Recommendation: http://f1000.com/prime/725387667