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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Erik Oleson, Ph.D.

Email: Erik Oleson

Phone: (303) 556-5867

Fax: (303)556-3520

Office hours: Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 PM

Areas of Expertise: Neuropsychopharmacology​

Education & Degrees

​Ph.D., Neuroscience, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2010

B.S. and B.A., Biology and Psychology, Presbyterian College 2005

Lab Website:


​Research in the Oleson lab generally focuses on the role of subsecond dopamine release in motivated behavior within the context of drug addiction. We are also interested in using cannabinoids to treat diseases that alter the mesolimbic dopamine system. We measure real-time dopamine release during ongoing behavior using a technique called fast-scan cyclic voltammetry and control dopamine neural activity using a technique called optogenetics. Specific projects include: assessing the role of dopamine in the co-morbid expression of schizophrenia and drug addiction, assessing the role of dopamine in drug withdrawal, establishing potential pharmacotherapies that might be used to treat schizophrenia and drug addiction.

Select Publications

Research Articles (italics indicate undergraduate mentee):

Oleson, EB, Cachope R, Fitoussi A, Cheer JF. Tales from the dark side: Do neuromodulators of drug withdrawal require changes in endocannabinoid tone? Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Aug 1. S0278-5846(13)00161-9.

Wang B, You ZB, Oleson EB, Cheer JF, Myal S, Wise RA. Conditioned contribution of peripheral cocaine actions to cocaine reward and cocaine-seeking. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Aug:38(9):1763-9.

Loewinger GC*, Oleson EB, Cheer JF. Using dopamine research to generate rational cannavinoid drug policy. Drug Test Anal. 2013 Jan. 5(1):22-6. *Authors contributed equally.

Oleson, EB, Gentry RN, Chioma VC and Cheer JF. Subsecond dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens predicts conditioned punishment and its successful avoidance. Journal of Neuroscience 2013 Oct;32(42):14804-8.

Oleson EB, Cheer JF. Paradoxical effects of endocannabinoid uptake inhibitor VDM11 on accumbal neural encoding of reward predictive cues. Synapse 2012 Nov;66(11):984-8.

Zimmer BA, Oleson EB, Roberts DC. The motivation to self-administer is increased after a history of spiking brain levels of cocaine. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jul;37(8):1901-10. *Authors contributed equally.

Oleson EB, Ferris MJ, Espana RA, Harp JJ, Jones SR. Effects of the H1-histamine antagonist and benzotropine analog diphenylpyraline on dopamine uptake, locomotion and reward. European Journal of Pharmacology. 2012 May 15:683(1-3):161-5.

Oleson EB, Beckert MV, Morra JT, Lansink CS, Cachope R, Abdullah RA, Loriaux AL, Schetters D, Pattij T, Roitman MF, Lichtman AH, Cheer JF. Endocannabinoids shape accumbal encoding of cue-motivated behavior via CV1 receptor activation in the ventral tegmenturn. Neuron. 2012 Jan;73(2):360-73.

Oleson EB, Richardson JM*, Roberts DC. A novel IV cocaine self-administration procedure in rats: differential effects of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA drug pre-treatments on cocaine consumption and maximal price paid. Psychopharmacology. 2011 Mar;214(2):567-77.

Espana RA, Oleson EB, Locke JL, Brookshire BR, Roberts DC, Jones SR. Hypocretin/Orexin neurotransmission is necessary for cocaine self-administration and dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens. European Journal of Neurosceince. 2010 Jan;31(2):336-48.

Oleson EB, Jones SR, Bonin KD, Budygin EA. Real-Time Voltammetric Detection of Cocaine-Induced Dopamine Changes in the Striatum of Freely Moving Mice. Neuroscience Letters. 2009 Dec 25:467(2):144-6.

Oleson EB, Talluri, Childers SR, Smith JE, Roberts DC, Bonin KD, Budygin EA. Dopamine Uptake Changes Associated with Cocaine Self-Administration. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Apr;34(5):1174-84.

Oleson EB, Roberts DC. Behavioral Economic Assessment of Price and Cocaine Consumption Following Administration Histories that Produce Escalation of Either Final Ratios or Intake. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Feb;34(3):796-804.

Morgan D, Liu Y, Oleson EB, Roberts DC. Cocaine self-administration on a hold-down schedule of reinforcement in rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Jan;201(4):601-9.

Courses Taught

​PSYC 3265: Drugs, Brain and Behavior

PSYC 4054: Behavioral Neuroscience​