Matthew M. Clasen

I recently received my Ph.D. from American University’s Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience program in Washington, DC. In my research at American University, I studied how factors such as age, drug exposure, and diet history influenced the affective properties and intravenous self-administration of abused drugs. Combining each of these factors, my dissertation research found that a long-term history of a Western diet (i.e., a diet high in saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, and refined sugars) increased the intravenous self-administration (and overdose death likelihood) of cocaine. This data provides evidence that the consumption of highly caloric and palatable diets increases the vulnerability of problematic drug intake which has immediate relevance to the obesogenic society in which we live today.

At Williams College, my research will continue to investigate how the long-term consumption of a Western diet influences the intravenous self-administration of other abused drugs (i.e., opioids, prescription psychostimulants, alcohol, etc.). My lab will concurrently evaluate the neural underpinnings of these results, in addition to exploring novel therapeutic interventions.

Scholarship/Creative Work

Clasen, M., Wetzell, B., & Riley, A. (2016). Adolescent rats fail to demonstrate a LiCl-induced pre-exposure effect: Implications for the balance of drug reward and aversion in adolescence. Learning and Behavior, 44(4), 356-365. PubMed ID: 27129788

Hempel, B., Wakeford, A., Clasen, M., Friar, M., & Riley, A. (2016). Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) history fails to affect THC’s ability to induce place preferences in rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 144(1), 1-6. PubMed ID: 26905371.

Hempel, B., Wakeford, A., Nelson, K., Clasen, M., Woloshchuk, C., & Riley, A. (2016). An assessment of sex differences in Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) taste and place conditioning. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 153, 69-75. PubMed ID: 27986515

Clasen, M., Hempel, B., & Riley, A. (2017). Pre-exposure to cocaine or morphine attenuates taste avoidance conditioning in adolescent rats. Developmental Psychobiology, 9999(1), 1-9. PubMed ID: 28369881

Wakeford, A., Wetzel, B., Pomfrey, R., Clasen, M., Taylor, W., Hempel, B., & Riley, A. The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) self-administration in male and female Long-Evans rats. Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, 25(4), 242-250. PubMed ID: 28682102

Nelson, K., Hempel, B., Clasen, M., Rice, K. and Riley, A. Assessment of the rewarding and aversive effects of the second-generation ‘bath salt’ alpha-pyrolidinopentiophenone (α-PVP). Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 156, 48 – 55. PubMed ID: 28427995

Clasen, M., Flax, S., Cheng, K., Rice, K., & Riley, A. Effect of norbinaltorphimine on ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-induced place aversions in adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 163, 30-35. PubMed ID: 29100992

Hempel, B., Clasen, M., Nelson, K., Woloshchuk, C., & Riley, A. An assessment of concurrent cannabidiol and Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) administration in place aversion and taste avoidance conditioning. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 26, 205-213.

Davidson, T., Hargrave, S., Kearns, D., Clasen, M., Jones, S., Wakeford, A., Sample, C., & Riley, A. Selective effects of cocaine on hippocampal cognitive and blood-brain-barrier function. (In press)

Clasen, M., Sanon, T., Hempel, B., Nelson, K., Kearns, D., Davidson, T., & Riley, A. The lifelong consumption of a Western diet increases compulsive cocaine intake in male Sprague-Dawley rats. (In preparation)

Clasen, M., Sanon, T., Kearns, D., Davidson, T., & Riley, A. The effects of lifelong Western diet exposure on the affective properties of cocaine in male Sprague-Dawley rats. (In preparation)

Riley, A., Clasen, M., & Friar, M. (2016). Conditioned taste avoidance drug discrimination procedure: Assessments and applications. In: Porter, J., Prus, A. (Eds.). Drug Discrimination: A Behavioral Approach for Understanding Subjective Drug Effects. Springer-Verlag. PubMed ID: 27221624

Clasen, M., Hempel, B., & Riley, A. (2017). Taste aversion. In: Zeigler-Hill, V. & Shackelford, T. Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer-Verlag.

Riley, A., Hempel, B., & Clasen, M. Sex as a biological variable: Drug use and abuse. Special Issue: Physiology and Behavior’s proceedings of the American University conference on Sex Differences in the Brain and Behavior. PubMed ID: 29030249

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

Belle Haven Country Club: Bag Boy Scholarship Award (November, 2010)

Northern Virginia Community College: Award for Academic Excellence in Psychology (April, 2011)

James Madison University: Centennial Scholarship Program Award (June, 2011)

James Madison University: Outstanding Achievement in Research Award (April, 2013)

James Madison University: Dean’s Award for Best Research Poster (April, 2013)

James Madison University: 11th Annual Colonial Academic Alliance Undergrad Research Conference Award (April, 2013)

James Madison University: National Conference on Undergraduate Research Student Scholarship Award (October, 2013)

American University: Center for Behavioral Neuroscience’s Summer Research Award Recipient. (April, 2017)