Jonathan Gewirtz, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychology

Jonathan Gewirtz

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-625-6653

Doctoral Degree, Yale University, 1998



Neural substrates of memory, negative affect, and drug dependency

Professional Associations

Member - Society for Neuroscience; Pavlovian Society; College on Problems of Drug Dependence


Research Summary/Interests

My lab studies negative emotional states (fear, anxiety, depression) using rat and mouse behavioral models. A significant emphasis is on the biology of fearful memory, which we dissect using Pavlovian conditioning paradigms. We also focus on drug dependence, since negative affective states are a prominent feature of drug withdrawal and likely play a critical role in the persistence of drug addiction. Our projects use a number of behavioral measures of emotion, including “potentiated startle“, the increase in magnitude of the acoustic startle reflex seen when a person or animal is in state of fear.

Through collaborations in the Medical School, we also study the cognitive and affective consequences of abnormal brain development. Much of this research has centered on the effects of prenatal brain iron deficiency. Currently, we are also seeking to develop new mouse genetic models of autism and schizophrenia.

Research Interests
  • Neural substrates of memory
  • Neural substrates of negative affect
  • Neural substrates of drug dependency
  • Drug dependence
  • Fear conditioning
  • Memory
  • Neural substrates of emotion


Swain, Y, Muelken, P, LeSage, MG, Gewirtz, JC & Harris, AC, 2018, ‘Locomotor activity does not predict individual differences in morphine self-administration in rats’ Pharmacol Biochem Behav, vol. 166, pp. 48-56.

Pisansky, MT, Hanson, LR, Gottesman, II & Gewirtz, JC 2017, ‘Oxytocin enhances observational fear in mice’ Nat Commun, vol. 8, no. 1, p. 2102.

Kennedy, BC, Tran, PV, Kohli, M, Maertens, JJ, Gewirtz, JC & Georgieff, MK 2018, ‘Beneficial effects of postnatal choline supplementation on long-Term neurocognitive deficit resulting from fetal-Neonatal iron deficiency’ Behav Brain Res, vol. 336, pp. 40-43.

Kennedy, BC, Kohli, M, Maertens, JJ, Marell, PS & Gewirtz, JC 2016, ‘Conditioned object preference: an alternative approach to measuring reward learning in rats’ Learn Mem, vol. 23, no. 11, pp. 623-630.

Kennedy, BC, Dimova, JG, Dakoji, S, Yuan, LL, Gewirtz, JC & Tran, PV 2016, ‘Deletion of novel protein TMEM35 alters stress-related functions and impairs long-term memory in mice’ Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol, vol. 311, no. 1, pp. R166-78.

Engelmann, JM, Versace, F, Gewirtz, JC & Cinciripini, PM 2016, ‘Individual differences in brain responses to cigarette-related cues and pleasant stimuli in young smokers’ Drug Alcohol Depend, vol. 163, pp. 229-35.

Tran, PV, Kennedy, BC, Pisansky, MT, Won, KJ, Gewirtz, JC, Simmons, RA & Georgieff, MK 2016, ‘Prenatal Choline Supplementation Diminishes Early-Life Iron Deficiency-Induced Reprogramming of Molecular Networks Associated with Behavioral Abnormalities in the Adult Rat Hippocampus’ J Nutr, vol. 146, no. 3, pp. 484-93.

Rao, R, Ennis, K, Mitchell, EP, Tran, PV & Gewirtz, JC 2016, ‘Recurrent Moderate Hypoglycemia Suppresses Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Expression in the Prefrontal Cortex and Impairs Sensorimotor Gating in the Posthypoglycemic Period in Young Rats’ Dev Neurosci, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 74-82.

McBrayer, ZL, Dimova, J, Pisansky, MT, Sun, M, Beppu, H, Gewirtz, JC & O'Connor, MB 2015, ‘Forebrain-Specific Loss of BMPRII in Mice Reduces Anxiety and Increases Object Exploration’ PLoS One, vol.10, no. 10, p. e0139860.

Sweis, BM, Bachour, SP, Brekke, JA, Gewirtz, JC, Sadeghi-Bazargani, H, Hevesi, M & Divani, AA 2016, ‘A modified beam-walking apparatus for assessment of anxiety in a rodent model of blast traumatic brain injury’ Behav Brain Res, vol. 296, pp. 149-156.



Psy 1001 - Introduction to Psychology; Psy 3061 - Introduction to Biopsychology; Psy 8061 - Neuropsychopharmacology