Onarae Rice

Onarae Rice

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience; Department Chair Neuroscience

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Dr. Rice was born and raised in Spartanburg, S.C. He graduated from Wofford College with a B.S. in psychology. While at Wofford, he interned for a semester at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Long Island, N.Y. After graduating, Dr. Rice accepted a postion in the medical department at BNL and later pursued a M.A. in biopsychology at Stony Brook University.

While working at BNL, Dr. Rice completed his Ph.D. in biopyschology from Stony Brook University where he studied the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system and its potential role in mediating, or modulating, the rewarding properties of various classes of abusive drugs. He specifically used a CB1 Knockout mouse model (mice whose cannabinoid receptor has been genetically "removed") to help understand its role in addiction.

At Furman, Dr. Rice continues to employ a battery of behavioral assays and neural imaging techniques to better understand drug addiction and the role of various receptors in this process. He is currently working on three projects:

Project one is an attempt to characterize the relationship, if any, between acute or chronic ethanol intake on brain glucose utilization and the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system. This is important for further education of ethanol's effects on the brain.
Project two is an evaluation of the appetitive nature of toluene, the reinforcing property in most abuse inhalants (i.e. glue). "Huffing," a term used for inhalant abuse of various compounds containing toluene, is on the rise amongst adolescents. This project is important for identifying toluene as a gateway drug, in addition to characterizing its effects on the brain.
Project three explores the brain's D3 receptor's involvement in natural rewards like novelty. This may have implications for identifying the role of the D3 receptor as a major player in our brain's reward circuits.
Dr. Rice has been invited to speak at international conference to explain his findings linking binge drinking and other addictive behaviors to the brain's dopamine D3 receptor.

He has also won the Alester G. Furman, Jr., and Janie Earl Furman Meritorious Advising Award.​


  • Post-Doc Fellow, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Ph.D, Stony Brook University
  • M.A., Stony Brook University
  • B.S., Wofford College


My primary program of research investigates the underlying brain mechanism(s) involved in the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse. Our lab uses several behavioral and histological techniques to examine the link between the brain and addictive behavior. To that end, we employ conditioned place, preference, i.v. self-administration, two bottle choice, drinking-in-the-dark, and social interaction assays.

Specifically we're interested in the elucidating the role of the brain's endogenous cannabinoid system and the dopamine D3 receptors in addiction. Additionally, it is not clear if the same effects are present in adolescent brains that are seen in adult brains. Perhaps adolescent drug use alters the brain pathways such that it increases an individual's chances of becoming an adult abuser. Therefore, my lab also focuses on the effects of adolescent drug use and how the brain circuits may be altered in adulthood.


  • The Dopamine D3 Receptor Antagonist SB-277011A Decreases Binge-Like Consumption of Ethanol in Mice. Rice, O.V., Schonhar, C.D., Gaal, J. Gardner, E.L., Ashby, C.R. (submitted, Synapse)
  • The selective D3 receptor antagonist SB-277011A attenuates morphine-triggered reactivation of expression of cocaine-induced conditioned place preference. Rice OV, Heidbreder CA, Gardner EL, Schonhar CD, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2013 Feb 13.
  • The effects of the preferential dopamine D(3) receptor antagonist S33138 on ethanol binge drinking in C57BL/6J mice. Rice OV, Patrick J, Schonhar CD, Ning H, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2012 Nov; 66(11):975-8
  • The acute administration of the selective dopamine D(3) receptor antagonist SB-277011A reverses conditioned place aversion produced by naloxone precipitated withdrawal from acute morphine administration in rats. Rice OV, Gardner EL, Heidbreder CA, Ashby CR Jr. Synapse. 2012 Jan;66(1):85-7.
  • Long-term effects of irradiation with iron-56 particles on the nigrostriatal dopamine system. Rice OV, Grande AV, Dehktyar N, Bruneus M, Robinson JK, Gatley SJ. Radiat Environ Biophys. 2009 Apr;48(2):