Neuroscience at The University of Chicago

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PhD, Concordia University




5841 S Maryland Ave MC 3077

Chicago, Illinois 60637

(773) 702-1537



, Illinois


Lab Website

Harriet de Wit, PhD


Research Interests
  • Neurobiology of Disease
Dr. de Wit studies the psychopharmacology of substance abuse in healthy human volunteers, with a focus on individual differences in responses to drugs. Individual differences in the subjective and behavioral responses to drugs are related to vulnerability for future repeated drug use, abuse or dependence. The de Wit laboratory studies variations in responses to acute challenge doses of drugs in healthy volunteers, in relation to genotypes, personality, stress reactivity, impulsivity and hormones. The measures of drug effects include self-report measures of liking, anxiety or euphoria, as well as behavioral measures of impulsivity, attention and cognition. Some of the studies use brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to measure actions of the drugs in the brain. Other studies, in collaboration with Dr. Abe Palmer, use genotypic analysis to study genetic associations with drug responses, by investigating associations between drug responses and polymorphisms in the genes encoding proteins involved in dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin function. Other current projects include studies on the effects of drugs on emotional processing, and a study of risk factors for relapse to cigarette smoking. The drugs currently under investigation include amphetamine, MDMA, benzodiazepines, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and tetrahydrocannabinol. These laboratory-based studies with healthy volunteers are truly translational, in that they provide a critical bridge between basic bio-behavioral findings from studies with laboratory animals and clinical applications with patient populations.

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Select Publications

Wardle, M.C., A. Hart, A.A. Palmer, H. de Wit (2013) Does COMT genotype influence the effects of d-amphetamine on executive functioning? Genes, Brain and Behavior 12, 13–20.

Kirkpatrick, M.D., C.E. Johanson, H. de Wit (2013) Personality and the acute subjective effects of d-amphetamine in humans. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27.

Zorilla, E.P., M. Heilig, H. de Wit, Y. Shaham (2013) Behavioral, biological and chemical perspectives on targeting CRF1 receptor antagonists to treat alcohol dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 128, 175-86.

Metrik, J., C.W. Kahler, B. Reynolds, J.E. McGeary, P.M. Monti, M. Haney, H. de Wit, D.J. Rohsenow (2012) Balanced-placebo design with marijuana: Drug and expectancy effects on impulsivity and risk taking. Psychopharmacology, 223, 489-99.

Dlugos, A., E. Childs, K. Stuhr, C.J. Hillard, H. de Wit (2012) Acute stress increases circulating N-acylethanolamines, including anandamide, in healthy humans. Neuropsychopharmacology, 37, 2416-27. 

Morean, M.E., H. de Wit, A.C King, M.Sofuoglu, S.Y. Rueger, & S.S. O'Malley (2013). The Drug Effects Questionnaire: Psychometric support across three drug types. Psychopharmacology, 227(1), 177-192. 

Hart, A.B., H. de Wit, A.A. Palmer (2013) Candidate gene studies of a promising intermediate phenotype: Failure to replicate. Neuropsychopharmacology. 38, 802-816.

Ballard, M.E., D.A. Gallo, H. de Wit. (2013) Pre-encoding administration of amphetamine or THC selectively modulates emotional memory in humans. Psychopharmacology. 226, 515-529.

Wardle, M.C., H. de Wit, I. Penton-Voak, G. Lewis, M.R. Munafo. (2013) Lack of association between COMT and working memory in a population-based cohort of healthy young adults. Neuropsychopharmacology. 38, 1253-1263.

Mayo, L., D. Fraser, E. Childs, R. Momenan, D. Hommer, H. de Wit, M. Heilig. (2013) Conditioned preference to a methamphetamine-associated contextual cue in humans. Neuropsychopharmacology. 38, 921-929. 

Baggott, M.J., E. Childs, A.B. Hart, E. de Bruin, A.A. Palmer, J.E. Wilkinson, and H. de Wit. (2013) Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology 228, 109-118.

Heinz, A.J., H. de Wit, T.C. Lilje, J.D. Kassel (2013) The combined effects of alcohol, caffeine and expectancies on subjective experience, impulsivity and risk-taking. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21, 222-234. 

Childs, E., H. de Wit (2012) Contextual conditioning enhances the psychostimulant and incentive properties of d-amphetamine in humans. Addiction Biology. <em>in press.


Hart, A.B., H. de Wit H, A.A. Palmer (2012) Genetic factors modulating the response to stimulant drugs in humans. Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience in press

Conrad, M., M.C. Wardle, A. King, H. de Wit (2012) Relationship of self-reported and acute stress to smoking in emerging adult smokers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, in press

Napier, T.C., A.A. Herrold, H. de Wit. (2013) Using conditioned place preference in the development of relapse prevention medications. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, in press.

Kirkpatrick, M.G., H. de Wit (2013) In the company of others: Social factors alter acute alcohol response. Psychopharmacology, in press.

Weafer, J., H. de Wit (2013) Behavioral impulsivity and subjective response to d-amphetamine. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, in press.

Ballard, E., D. Gallo, H. de Wit. (2013) Amphetamine increases errors during episodic memory retrieval. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, in press.

Weafer, J., M.J. Baggott, H. de Wit. (2013) Test-retest reliability of behavioral measures of impulsive choice, impulsive action, and impulsive inattention. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, in press.