​Many adolescents are prescribed antidepressants. Yet little is known about the potential for long-lasting consequences of these treatments, particularly on possible future drug abuse.​

Lace Riggs, a graduate research assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Sergio Iñiguez in the Department of Psychology, uses animal models to examine whether adolescent exposure to a common antidepressant results in changes to the sensitivity of the rewarding properties of cocaine in adulthood. Riggs' findings suggest that adolescent exposure to fluoxetine increases sensitivity to the rewarding properties of cocaine later in life.

Initially supported by funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology, Riggs later received an NIH-funded fellowship from the Diversity-Promoting Institutions Drug Abuse Research Program, supporting her work in this area.

It was her experience as a bachelor's- and master's- level researcher at Cal State San Bernardino that led Riggs to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. "Being involved in this project helped me realize the importance of basic/preclinical research in examining the safety of psychotropic drug exposure during early development," says Riggs.