Richard Allen headshot
Professor • Associate Dean - Teachin​g, Learning, and Curriculum
Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience

Mailing Address:
CU Denver College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Campus Box 144
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location:
1200 Larimer Street
NC Suite 5008H
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Office Hours:
By Appointment

Expertise Areas:

Ph.D., Neurobiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1999
B.A., Psychology and Music, Syracuse University, 1993

Given that drug dependence (i.e., "addiction") is a significant threat to personal and public health, the research in my laboratory seeks to identify the kinds of specific neurobiological and behavioral changes that may occur in a drug using individual as they transition from occasional use of a psychoactive drug of abuse to drug addiction. Ongoing research in my laboratory tests the hypothesis that escalation of cocaine consumption is mediated through activation of the glutamate system, specifically through activation of NMDA receptors. These studies use an animal model of drug-taking behavior called the drug self-administration procedure, which can be used to reveal escalations of cocaine intake over time. This model provides a valuable preclinical tool for assessing the neurobiological changes that take place during this transition. Additionally, research in my laboratory seeks to describe the pharmacological, neurobiological, and behavioral mechanisms that contribute to the abuse potential of some psychoactive drugs. To this end, we are currently testing the roles of drug efficacy and receptor selectivity in the motivational effects of mixed action opioid analgesics.

Allen, R.M. (2009) "Tolerance, Sensitization, and Physical Dependence. In Cohen, Collins, Young, McChargue, Leffingwell, and Cook (Eds.)", Pharmacology and Treatment of Substance Abuse. New York: Routledge.

2009 Mandt BH, Allen RM, Zahniser NR. "Individual differences in initial low-dose cocaine-induced locomotor activity and locomotor sensitization in adult outbred female Sprague-Dawley rats." Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 91: 511-516.

2008 Mandt BH, Schenk S, Zahniser NR, Allen RM. "Individual differences in cocaine-induced locomotor activity in male Sprague-Dawley rats and their acquisition of and motivation to self-administer cocaine." Psychopharmacology, 201: 195-202.

2007 Allen RM, Uban KA, Atwood EM, Albeck DS, Yamamoto DJ. "Continuous intracerebroventricular infusion of the competitive NMDA receptor antagonist, LY235959, facilitates escalation of cocaine self-administration and increases break point for cocaine in Sprague-Dawley rats." Pharmacol Biochem Beh. 88: 82-88.

2007 Allen RM, Everett CV, Nelson AM, Gulley JM, Zahniser NR. "Low and high locomotor responsiveness to intravenous cocaine predicts cocaine conditioned place preference in male Sprague-Dawley rats." Pharmacol Biochem Beh. 86: 37–44.

2007 Allen RM, Dykstra LA, Carelli RM. "Continuous exposure to the competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, LY235959, facilitates escalation of cocaine consumption in Sprague-Dawley rats." Psychopharmacology. 191: 341-351.

2005 Allen RM, Carelli RM, Dykstra LA, Suchey TL, Everett CV. "Effects of the competitive NMDA receptor antagonist, (-)-6-phosphonomethyl-deca-hydroisoquinoline-3-carboxylic acid (LY235959), on responding for cocaine under both fixed and progressive ratio schedules of reinforcement." J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 315: 449-457.

PSYC 3222: Principles of Learning and Behavior
PSYC 3265: Drugs, Brain and Behavior