MINES Saint-Étienne

Seminar: Stimulating the brain to treat addiction to drugs

Christelle Saunez,  Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone, Marseille.


High frequency electric stimulation of a small nucleus in the brain (the subthalamic nucleus) is a current treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects motricity, but also cognitive functions and motivation. We have shown that the same stimulation can reduce motivation to take cocaine, while increasing motivation to obtain sweet food in rats. The strategy to treat drug addiction is to reduce the motivation for the drug without reducing motivation for any other activity. High frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus could thus be an interesting strategy to treat addiction to cocaine and possibly other substances.

Speaker’s biography

Christelle Baunez is “directrice de recherche” at CNRS and head of the team BaGaMoRe (Basal Ganglia Motivation and Reward) at the “Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone” in Marseille. She obtained a PhD in Neurosciences from the Aix-Marseille Université in 1995. During her PhD, she has studied the interactions between dopamine and glutamate within the basal ganglia in rats under the supervision of Dr. M. Amalric. She then did a post-doctoral research for 2 years at the department of Experimental Psychology at Cambridge University (UK). She pionneered there the research on the subthalamic nucleus and its involvement in non-motor functions with a specialist of prefrontal functions, Prof. TW Robbins. She got her permanent position at the CNRS in 1997 and returned to Marseille where she was the first to develop the technique of high frequency stimulation in behaving parkinsonian rats. She has  demonstrated the involvement of the subthalamic in motivational processes and focusses mostly on these processes currently, using a translational approach from rats and monkeys to human patients.


George Malliaras
Professor and Department Head
Department of Bioelectronics
Phone: +33 (0)4 42 61 66 44