Substance use disorder (SUD) is comorbid with devastating health issues, social withdrawal, and isolation. Successful clinical treatments for SUD have used social interventions. Neurons can encode drug cues, and drug cues can trigger relapse. It is important to study how the activity in circuits and embedded cell types that encode drug cues develop in SUD. Exploring shared neurobiology between social interaction (SI) and SUD may explain why humans with access to social treatments still experience relapse. However, circuitry remains poorly characterized due to technical challenges in studying the complicated nature of SI and SUD. To understand the neural correlates of SI and SUD, it is important to: (1) identify cell types and circuits associated with SI and SUD, (2) record and manipulate neural activity encoding drug and social rewards over time, (3) monitor unrestrained animal behavior that allows reliable drug self-administration (SA) and SI. Miniaturized fluorescence microscopes (miniscopes) are ideally suited to meet these requirements. They can be used with gradient index (GRIN) lenses to image from deep brain structures implicated in SUD. Miniscopes can be combined with genetically encoded reporters to extract cell-type specific information. In this mini-review, we explore how miniscopes can be leveraged to uncover neural components of SI and SUD and advance potential therapeutic interventions.
- in vivo calcium imaging
- longitudinal imaging
- miniature fluorescence microscopy
- social interaction
- substance use disorder