Graduate Studies Faculty

« Back to Search List

Bita Moghaddam, Ph.D.

Chair, BEHN
Admin Unit: SOM-Behavioral Neuroscience Department
Mail Code: L470
Behavioral Neuroscience
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Research Interests:
motivated behavior, electrophysiology, animals models of psychiatric disorders » Click here for more about Dr. Moghaddam's research » PubMed Listing
Preceptor Rotations
Academic Term Available Summer 2017 Yes
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Moghaddam is available as a mentor for 2017-2018.

Bita Moghaddam is the Chair of the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience at OHSU. 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 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 68, overall citations ~ 14,000).

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.

Selected Recent Papers 

Park, J., Wood, J., Bondi, C., Del Arco, A., and Moghaddam, B. (2016) Anxiety evokes hypofrontality and disrupts rule-relevant encoding by dorsomedial prefrontal cortex neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(11): 3322-3335.

Lohani, S., Poplawsky, A.J., Kim, S.G., and Moghaddam, B. (2017) Unexpected global impact of VTA dopamine neuron activati on as measured by opto-fMRI. Molecular Psychiatry, doi:10.1038/mp.2016.102.

(complete list

Selected Media Coverage

Huffington Post, 22 March, 2016, “Anxiety Could Be The Reason You Made A Bad Decision.”

Psychology Today, 17 March, 2016, “How Does Anxiety Short Circuit the Decision-Making Process?”  

Forbes, 29 October, 2012, “New Study Shows that Omega-3 Supplements Can Boost Memory in Young Adults.”

Recent podcasts

March 2016, “Women at the Podium: ACNP Strives to Reach Speaker Gender Equality at the Annual Meeting.”

SfN's first-ever podcast on "The Perils of Publishing"