Anita Bechtholt

Ph.D. Graduate (2004)

bechtholtUndergraduate Education  

(1996) BS Psychology, Washington State University

Training at OHSU


Second Year Project

(2000) Repeated nicotine pretreatment increases cocaine self-administration using a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement in rats. (Advisor: Gregory Mark, PhD) 


(2004) Central opioid influences on conditioned ethanol reward and aversion. (Mentor: Christopher Cunningham, PhD)

Previous Positions

(2004 - 2007) Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Philadelphia PA (Postdoctoral Advisor: Irwin Lucki, PhD)

(2007-2008) Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Belmont MA (Postdoctoral Advisors: William Carlezon; PhD, Anne Cataldo, PhD; Bruce Cohen, MD, PhD; Dost Ongur, MD, PhD)

Current Position

Instructor, Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Belmont MA



Background and Interests

My primary interest is in understanding the neural mechanisms involved in the incidence and treatment of psychiatric disorders including addiction, depression and anxiety. My dissertation work at OHSU involved identifying the brain regions and neurochemical mechanisms that contribute to the expression of the conditioned rewarding effects of ethanol. These experiments shed light on the ways in which environmental cues, that are associated with the experience of the rewarding effects of ethanol, may contribute to relapse in alcoholism. Since leaving OHSU I have focused on understanding the causes and treatments of depression and anxiety, two psychiatric disorders that are often co-morbid with addiction. In the future I hope to combine these areas of expertise as an independent investigator.

My OHSU experience

I chose to get my PhD in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU because the department was so well equipped to do expert addiction research and also how friendly, happy, and supportive the students and faculty seemed during my interview. These impressions were only strengthened once I started my PhD. I really enjoyed my graduate experience at OHSU and feel that my training was superior to that of many of my peers who did not attend OHSU. The main reason for this outcome is how seriously the department, as a whole (and especially my mentor, Chris Cunningham), takes training. They asked me the hard questions, but always with the interest of making me a better scientist. This training prepared me to do ethical, reliable and great science! Don't get me wrong, graduate school was a difficult experience with high highs and low lows, I just can't imagine having done it anywhere else.

Living in Portland made the hard times a lot easier. Looking at the view of Mt. Hood while I walked home or hiking through the arboretum always softened the blow of a failed experiment. I really enjoyed living in Portland and miss the great food, great wine, beautiful hikes (like Bull of the Woods and Dog Mountain), picturesque beaches, and close by skiing.


Wright JW, Bechtholt AJ, Chambers SL, Harding JW. Angiotensin III & IV activation of the brain AT1 receptor subtype in cardiovascular function. Peptides. 1996;17(8):1365-1371.

Bechtholt AJ, Mark GP . Enhancement of cocaine-seeking behaviors by repeated nicotine exposure. Psychopharmacology. 2002;62(2):178-85.

Bechtholt AJ, Smith R, Raber J, Cunningham CL. Enhanced ethanol-, but not cocaine-induced, conditioned place preference in Apoe-/- mice. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2004;77(4):783-792.

Bechtholt AJ, Gremel CM, Cunningham CL. Handling blocks expression of conditioned place aversion but not conditioned place preference produced by ethanol in mice. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 2004;79(4):739-44.

Bechtholt AJ, Cunningham CL. Ethanol-induced conditioned place preference is expressed through a ventral tegmental area dependent mechanism. Behavioral Neuroscience. 2005;119 (1):213-23.

Bechtholt AJ, Lucki I. Effects of Serotonin-related Gene Deletion on Measures of Anxiety, Depression and Neurotransmission. In: Roth BL, editor, Serotonin receptors. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press;2006. p. 577-606.

Mark GP, Kinney AE, Grubb MC, Zhu X, Finn DA, Mader SL, Berger SP, Bechtholt AJ. Injection of oxotremorine in nucleus accumbens shell reduces cocaine but not food self administration in rats. Brain Research. 2006;1123(1):51-9.

Bechtholt AJ, Lucki I. Anxiolytic effect of serotonin depletion in the novelty-induced hypophagia test. Psychopharmacology. 2007;190(4):531-40.

Gur TL, Conti AC, Holden J,Bechtholt AJ, Hill TE, Lucki I, Malberg JE, Blendy JA. cAMP response element-binding protein deficiency allows for increased neurogenesis and a rapid onset of antidepressant response. Journal of Neuroscience. 2007;27:7860-8.

O'Leary OF, Bechtholt AJ, Crowley JJ, Hill TE, Page ME, Lucki I. Depletion of serotonin and catecholamines block the acute behavioral response to different classes of antidepressant drugs in the mouse tail suspension test. Psychopharmacology. 2007;192:357-71.

O'Leary O, Bechtholt AJ, Crowley JJ, Valentino RJ, Lucki I. The role of noradrenergic tone in the dorsal raphe nucleus of the mouse in the acute behavioral effects of antidepressant drugs. European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007;17(3):215-26.

Bechtholt AJ, Valentino RJ, Lucki I. Overlapping and Distinct Brain Regions Associated with the Anxiolytic Effects of Chlordiazepoxide and Chronic Fluoxetine. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008;[Epub ahead of print].

Bechtholt AJ, Smith K, Gaughan S, Lucki I. Sucrose intake and fasting glucose levels in 5-HT1A and 5-HT1B receptor mutant mice. Physiology & Behavior. 2008;93(4-5):659-65.