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Researcher’s love of molecules is good for society too

By Alyssa Patrick, Office of Economic Development

SorgVANCOUVER, Wash. – Barbara Sorg studied functions of the brain for years before she saw the tiny nets in her microscope that made her heart skip a beat.

The professor of neuroscience at Washington State University Vancouver had been exploring different aspects of the brain to find connections between memory and addictive behaviors, and those nets were just too intriguing to leave alone.

Barbara Sorg in her laboratory at WSU Vancouver.

Her investigation of why the microscopic nets exist and how they function has led to a better understanding of how memories influence drug addiction. She and her colleagues are exploring ways to target the nets in order to decrease the emotional weight of memories associated with addiction – work that could eventually lead to a treatment option for drug addicts.

This fall, Sorg is going to expand the impact of her research by heading from the lab to the Clark County court system. Instead of questions about biology, she will ask how neuroscience can impact policy making.

For four months she will spend 20 to 25 percent of her time in the courts, a semester of leave that will allow her to see the people impacted by addiction and the systems that have the power to impact how we address addiction.

Read all of this blog at

See an earlier article about Sorg’s research at




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