Steve Mahler is from Chicago, where he received a B.S. in Psychology from Loyola University, and a M.A. in Social Sciences from University of Chicago. He worked with Harriet de Wit exploring the role of dopamine in cue-induced smoking craving, and psychopharmacological interactions between nicotine and alcohol in humans.
Steve received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, working with Kent Berridge to elucidate the neural substrates of motivation, hedonics, and learning in rats, with a focus on the roles played by amygdala opioids and nucleus accumbens cannabinoids in these processes.
Steve then did postdoctoral research in Gary Aston-Jones’ lab at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he examined the involvement of ventral pallidal and other inputs to the ventral tegmental area in a rat model of relapse in addiction, using functional-anatomical and chemogenetic techniques. He also explored the roles of VTA dopamine neurons and their forebrain projections in food and drug reward, the mechanisms of modafinil’s anti-relapse properties, and the addiction-related functions of rat ultrasonic vocalizations.