Faculty Profiles

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Amy Kohtz, PhD


Assistant Professor
Office: TR416
(601) 815-1017


PhD - Behavioral Neuroscience, SUNY at Albany, 2014


  • Behavioral pharmacology of drug abuse in rodent models
  • Neural Circuits driving sex differences in addiction
  • Relationship between drug memories and addiction phenotypes
  • Involvement of endocrine factors contributing to sex differences in addiction


Society for Neuroscience, Member 
International Steroids and Nervous System, Member


The inability to maintain abstinence is a trademark of addiction yet effective maintenance therapies remain elusive. Relapse often occurs when exposure to a prior drug context (e.g. the addicts home, a bar) elicits a memory that drives motivation for the drug. To add further intricacy, women may face unique issues with substance abuse treatment, as research indicates that psychological and biological responses to drugs of abuse differ in women compared to men. Women tend to show greater drug dependence, progress more quickly from casual drug use to dependence, have greater difficulty quitting, and have shorter periods of abstinence than men. These effects have been similarly observed in female animal models. Thus, there is a crucial need for understanding circuit dynamics and molecular signatures that drive robust behavioral sex differences impeding abstinence success. 

Our lab combines basic research in clinically translational animal models with molecular techniques to discover sex differences in molecular signatures that respond to circuit activation during drug seeking, pathological motivation for drug, and drug relapse. Our overarching experimental topics include: determining the impact of initial abstinence on persistent cocaine-seeking, investigation of the relationship between oxytocin and hormonal cyclicity in extended drug access, leveraging behavioral economics paradigms to identify neural circuits in drug demand, and the role of noradrenergic and serotonergic signaling on sex differences in the progression of addiction. Our lab uses an array of anatomical, pharmacological, and virus-based strategies in rat to identify and manipulate circuits involved in addition phenotypes.


Extramural, Sex Differences in Addiction, NIDA     02/2022 - 02/2025
Extramural, Sex Differences in Addiction, NIDA     03/2019 - 02/2022


Journal Article

2019 - Kohtz AS, Walf AA, Frye CA, Effects of non-contingent cocaine on 3 alpha-androstanediol. II. Disruption of lordosis of proestrous rats. Physiology & behavior, 2019 May 1;203:113-119

2019 - Kohtz AS, Walf AA, Frye CA, Effects of non-contingent cocaine on 3alpha-androstanediol. I. Disruption of male sexual behavior. Physiology & behavior, 2019 May 1;203:120-127

2018 - Kohtz AS, Lin B, Smith ME, Aston-Jones G, Attenuated cocaine-seeking after oxytocin administration in male and female rats. Psychopharmacology, 2018 Jul;235(7):2051-2063

2018 - Steinmetz AB, Stern SA, Kohtz AS, Descalzi G, Alberini CM, Insulin-Like Growth Factor II Targets the mTOR Pathway to Reverse Autism-Like Phenotypes in Mice. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 2018 Jan 24;38(4):1015-1029

2017 - McRae-Clark AL, Cason AM, Kohtz AS, Moran Santa-Maria M, Aston-Jones G, Brady KT, Impact of gender on corticotropin-releasing factor and noradrenergic sensitivity in cocaine use disorder. Journal of neuroscience research, 2017 Jan 2;95(1-2):320-327

2017 - Kohtz AS, Aston-Jones G, Cocaine Seeking During Initial Abstinence Is Driven by Noradrenergic and Serotonergic Signaling in Hippocampus in a Sex-Dependent Manner. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2017 Jan;42(2):408-418

2014 - Stern SA, Kohtz AS, Pollonini G, Alberini CM, Enhancement of memories by systemic administration of insulin-like growth factor II. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 2014 Aug;39(9):2179-90

2014 - Frye CA, Walf AA, Kohtz AS, Zhu Y, Progesterone-facilitated lordosis of estradiol-primed mice is attenuated by knocking down expression of membrane progestin receptors in the midbrain. Steroids, 2014 Mar;81:17-25

2013 - Frye CA, Walf AA, Kohtz AS, Zhu Y, Membrane progestin receptors in the midbrain ventral tegmental area are required for progesterone-facilitated lordosis of rats. Hormones and behavior, 2013 Aug;64(3):539-45

2010 - Kohtz AS, Paris JJ, Frye CA, Low doses of cocaine decrease, and high doses increase, anxiety-like behavior and brain progestogen levels among intact rats. Hormones and behavior, 2010 Apr;57(4-5):474-80

Kohtz AS, Frye CA, Learning and the Lifespan: What's Sex Got to Do With It? Frontiers in neuroscience, 2020;14:216
Cason AM, Kohtz A, Aston-Jones G, Role of Corticotropin Releasing Factor 1 Signaling in Cocaine Seeking during Early Extinction in Female and Male Rats. PloS one, 2016;11(6):e0158577
Ye X, Kohtz A, Pollonini G, Riccio A, Alberini CM, Insulin Like Growth Factor 2 Expression in the Rat Brain Both in Basal Condition and following Learning Predominantly Derives from the Maternal Allele. PloS one, 2015;10(10):e0141078
Kohtz AS, Frye CA, Dissociating behavioral, autonomic, and neuroendocrine effects of androgen steroids in animal models. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2012;829:397-431