Headshot photo of Bita Moghaddam, Ph.D.<span class="profile__pronouns"> (she/her)</span>

Bita Moghaddam, Ph.D. (she/her)

  • Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine
  • Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program, School of Medicine



Bita Moghaddam is Ruth Matarazzo Professor in Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU and author of KETAMINE. She received a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kansas and postdoctoral training in pharmacology at Yale University. She joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University in 1990 where she quickly rose to the rank of full professor. In 2003 she moved to the University of Pittsburgh as professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry. She joined OHSU in 2017. Her research, which has been supported continuesly  by  focuses on understanding the neuronal basis of complex behaviors that are critical to mental health, and is distinguished by the substantial impact on the field (H-index 81, overall citations ~ 25,000).

Research Overview

Brain illnesses that affect cognition and emotion are the most prevalent and the most devastating of human disorders. Whether it is a chronic disease such as schizophrenia or transient bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, they influence every aspect of an individual’s life and produce enduring personal anguish and hardship to family. New treatments for these conditions are contingent upon research breakthroughs that explain the neuronal processes that support cognition and emotion. By increasing our basic understanding of how these processes work, we can identify genetic or environmental causes that disrupt them. It is then that we can find cures or prevention strategies for these disorders.

We use a systems neuroscience approach to study "dynamic" brain mechanisms that maintain cognitive and emotional functions in key brain regions that are implicated in illnesses such as schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, and addictive disorders. Our primary focus is on prefrontal cortex subregions and dopamine neurons in the midbrain. New directions include characterization of these neuronal systems during adolescence. The onset of symptoms for most psychiatric disorders is during adolescence; therefore, understanding what goes awry in this developmental period is critical for defining the neuronal basis of the disease process and designing strategies that prevent the onset of symptoms.

 Examples of Recent Papers 

Jacobs DS, Moghaddam B. (2020) Prefrontal cortex representation of learning of punishment probability during reward-motivated actions Journal of Neuroscience 40:5063

McCane  AM, WegenerMA, FarajiM, Rivera GarciaM, Wallin-MillerK, CostaVD, Moghaddam B (2021) Adolescent dopamine neurons represent reward differently during action and state guided learning, Journal of Neuroscience, 41:9419

Moghaddam B, Abbas A, (2022) Depression and Prefrontal Cortex: All roads lead to dopamine, Biological Psychiatry, 91: 773

Jacobs DS, Allen MC, Park, J, Moghaddam B, (2022) Learning of probabilistic punishment as a model of anxiety produces changes in action but not punisher encoding in the dmPFC and VTA, eLIFE, DOI 10.7554

Torrado Pacheco A, Olson R, Gaza G, Moghaddam B (2023) Acute psilocybin enhances cognitive flexibility in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology, 48:1011

(complete list https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=WNB2KvkAAAAJ&view_op=li…?

Selected  Recent Media Coverage

KCRW, 23 Apr 2022, “Psychedelic spirituality: Ketamine and the future of mental health.” listen here

The Nation, 23 Mar 2022, “Breaking Off My Chemical Romance.” view article

This is Critical, 22 Jan 2021, “Is Ketamine all it’s cracked up to be?” listen here

SFN Neuronline, Jan 2021, “How One Scientist Stays Focused in the Face of Prejudice.” view article

The MIT Press Podcast, 21 Sept 2020, “Pharmacological Histories Ep. 3 Bita Moghaddam on Ketamine.” listen here

CNN Health, 4 June 2020, “How to make good decisions when you’re paralyzed by the stress of protests and the pandemic.” view article 

Science Daily, 2 April 2019, “Dopamine conducts prefrontal cortex ensembles: Study reports novel ways that dopamine cells influence the function of prefrontal cortex of the brain.” view article

Areas of interest

  • systems neuroscience approaches to understanding cognitive-affective interface
  • novel behavioral and computational models of mood and cognitive disorders
  • prefrontal cortex and action selection



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