Chana K. Akins, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Kentucky (PubMed; Dept Profile; Akins Lab; CV). Professor Akins’ work focuses on the manner in which environmental stimuli influence motivated behavior. Specifically, the research covers topics involving sexual behavior and drug taking.
The work in this area has focused on the intersection of the two behaviors, with a line of papers showing that exposure to cocaine can facilitate Pavlovian learning when the reinforcing stimulus (the Unconditional Stimulus in Pavlovian learning parlance) is access to a sexually receptive female (e.g., Levens and Akins, 2004). This is interesting both from a basic science perspective of competing sources of reward/reinforcement and from a more applied perspective of the way acute drug intoxication may facilitate risky or otherwise undesired sexual activity. The latter is an obvious health risk (think HIV transmission) and the former has downstream application (one of the problems with drug users is that the drug use comes to be more important than any other sources of pleasure or reward).

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