Elliot A. Stein, Ph.D., Senior Investigator - Principal Investigators - The Intramural Research Program of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

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251 Bayview Blvd
Suite 200
Baltimore, MD 21224

Phone: (443) 740-2650

Fax: (443) 740-2753


Elliot A. Stein, Ph.D., Senior Investigator

Chief, Neuroimaging Research Branch on-site page link

Post-doctoral training - Behavioral Neurobiology, California Institute of Technology (advisor Dr. James Olds)

Ph. D. - Neurophysiology, University of Maryland, School of Medicine

B.A. - Biology, Quinnipiac University


Our research is directed at understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying human drug use and addiction. Using a number of MRI based (e.g. fMRI, MR spectroscopy, functional connectivity, DTI) and PET (dopamine, serotonin systems) imaging techniques in both human and animal models, we aim to understand how both acute and chronic drug administration alters neuronal and cognitive processing and subsequent behavioral outcome. Our human imaging research, centered mostly on cocaine and nicotine dependence, emphasizes the importance of cognitive, affective, personality and environmental interactions with the drug’s pharmacological properties. More recent studies are examining these properties in marijuana, ecstasy and methamphetamine users. Drug using individuals and healthy matched control subjects are employed to test specific hypotheses related to such cognitive constructs as attention, reward processing, craving, affect, decision making and response inhibition. The consequences of chronic drug use on systems level neuroplasticity are examined longitudinally during drug withdrawal and treatment regimens. Together with our collaborators, we have begun to examine how specific individual genetic polymorphisms help explain the group variance imaging endophenotypes to better understand trait related predisposition and hopefully, treatment outcome. Finally, rodent and non-human primate imaging models are employed to address the biophysical bases of the fMRI signal and, using chronic drug use models unavailable in human research, better understand where and how various neuropharmacological manipulations alter local and circuit level neuronal functions. The long-term goal of this research is to develop more efficacious strategies to both treat existing and help prevent future drug use in high risk populations.

Selected Publications:

  1. Association of nicotine addiction and nicotine's actions with separate cingulate cortex functional circuits.
    Hong, LE, Gu, H, Yang, Y, Ross, TJ, Salmeron, BJ,  Buchholz, B, Thaker, GK, Stein, EA. Archives Gen Psychiatry 66, 431-441, 2009
  2. Patients with Schizophrenia have a reduced neural response to both unpredictable and predictable primary reinforcers.
    Waltz JA, Schweitzer JB, Gold JM, Kurup PK, Ross TJ, Jo Salmeron B, Rose EJ, McClure SM, Stein EA. Neuropsychopharmacology 34, 1567-77, 2009
  3. Performance effects of nicotine during selective attention, divided attention and simple stimulus detection: an fMRI study.
    Hahn B, Ross TJ, Wolkenberg F, Huestis MA and Stein EA. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 1990-2000, 2009
  4. Early life stress induces long-term morphological changes in primate brain.
    Spinelli, S, Chefer, S, Suomi, S J, Higley, D, Barr, CS, and Stein, EA. Arch Gen Psych. 66, 658-665, 2009
  5. Mesocorticolimbic circuits are impaired in chronic cocaine users as demonstrated by resting-state functional connectivity. 
    Gu, H, Salmeron, BJ, Ross, TJ, Geng, X, Zhan, W, Stein, EA and Yang, Y. NeuroImage 53, 593-601, 2010
  6. Effects of early-life stress on 5-HT1A receptors in juvenile Rhesus monkeys measured by Positron Emission Tomography.
    Spinelli, S., Chefer, S., Carson, R.E., Jagoda, E., Lang, L., Heilig, M., Barr, C.S., Suomi, S., Higley, J.D., Stein, E.A. Biological Psychiatry 67, 1146-1153, 2010
  7. A Genetically modulated cingulate circuit supports human nicotine addiction.
    Hong, LE, Hodgkinson, CA, Yang, Y, Sampath, H, Ross, TJ, Buchholz, B, Salmeron, BJ, Srivastava, V, Thaker, GK, Goldman, D, and Stein, EA. Proc. Nat’l Acad Sci (USA) 107, 13509-14, 2010.
  8. Smoking and schizophrenia independently and additively reduce white matter integrity between striatum and frontal cortex.
    Zhang, X, Stein, EA, and Hong, LE. Biological Psychiatry 68, 674-7, 2010
  9. Short-term meditation induces white-matter changes in the anterior cingulate.
    Tang, Y-Y, Lu, Q, Geng, X, Stein, EA, Yang, Y, Posner, MI. Proc. Nat’l Acad Sci (USA), 107, 15649-52, 2010
  10. Anatomical differences and network characteristics underlying smoking cue reactivity.
    Zhang X, Salmeron BJ, Ross TJ, Gu, H, Geng, X, Yang Y and Stein EA. NeuroImage, 54, 131-41, 2011

About Dr. Stein's...

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical and behavioral research agency of the United States Government. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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