Ziva Cooper PhD, Asst. Professor of Clinical Neurobiology, Columbia University
I happened to bump into Ziva Cooper, PhD in the ‘A’ train (New york subway) a couple of days back. Actually it was her fascination for the hugely popular, Angry Bird App for the iPhone that started our conversation. Albeit brief, it was pretty exciting to hear about Dr. Cooper’s work ( i must admit, i initially assumed she was a student when she mentioned she was at Columbia University).
Dr. Cooper is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. That sounds both impressive and cool!! Specifically, Dr. Cooper works at the Substance Abuse Center in the Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University and her research interest involves understanding the neurobiological, environmental, and behavioral variables that influence the reinforcing effects of drugs (some of that detail obtained from her bio). As her bio says, she received her Ph.D from the University of Michigan in Biopsychology, focusing on how different states of opioid dependence alter behavior. And then she later completed a postdoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Drs. Margaret Haney and Sandra Comer studying human behavioral pharmacology of cannabinoids and opioids.
We briefly discussed the emerging research that is now being conducted to understand the effects of digital communication technologies on the brain’s neuronal connections. It is speculated that regular use of cell phones, email and social media tools like Facebook and twitter are making us interrupt driven workers who are constantly having the need to check of updates in their digital environment. This may get addictive as some scientists believes that checking your email or twitter feed possibly releases a bit of dopamine, a rewarding sensation upon receiving a positive message. I certainly believe that the internet based technologies are interruptive and are subtly but surely making us more reactionary and perhaps even impatient with respect to communication.
We also briefly touched upon Dr. Edward Taube’s discovery of Constrained Induced Movement Therapy. Dr. Cooper sounded somewhat intrigued by what we are doing here are CureTalk and TrialX.com. And even though she didn’t confirm, she did say she would look into writing on Cure Talk about the latest research being done in the area of substance abuse.
We surely hope that she can find some time to enlighten us about the fascinating research being done to understand the mind and its alterations under substance abuse.