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P. Leon Brown, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:



Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Maple and Locust Streets, Catonsville, MD 21228

Phone (Primary):


Education and Training

St. Lawrence University, BS 1996 (Psychology)

University of New Hampshire, MA 1998 (Psychology)

University of Maryland, Baltimore, PhD 2014 (Neuroscience)


I am a behavioral neuroscientist studying the role dopamine plays in mental health disorders such as substance abuse and depression using a combination of electrophysiological, histological, and behavioral techniques. I am particularly interested in the interaction between the lateral habenula and circulating gonadal hormones and their combined role in the regulation of dopamine function.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Addiction, Depression, Dopamine, Electrophysiology, Habenula, Motivation

Highlighted Publications

Brown PL, Shepard PD (2013) Lesions of the fasciculus retroflexus alter footshock induced cFos expression in the mesopontine rostromedial tegmental area of rats. PLoS One 8(4): e60678. (PMC3625179)

Brown PL, Shepard PD (2016) Functional evidence for a direct excitatory projection from the lateral habenula to the ventral tegmental area in the rat. Journal of Neurophysiology 116(3): 1161-1174. (PMC5013172)

Brown PL, Palacorolla H, Brady D, Rieger K, Elmer GI, Shepard PD (2017) Habenula-induced inhibition of midbrain dopamine neurons is diminished by lesions of the rostromedial tegmental nucleus. Journal of Neuroscience 37(1): 217-225. (PMC5214632)

Brown PL, Zanos P, Wang L, Elmer G, Gould TD, Shepard PD (2018) Isoflurane but not halothane prevents and reverses helpless behavior: A role for EEG burst suppression?  International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 21(8): 777-785. (PMC6070045)

Elmer GI, Palacorolla H, Mayo CL, Brown PL, Jhou TC, Brady D, Shepard PD (2019) The rostromedial tegmental nucleus modulates the development of stress-induced helpless behaviour. Behavioural Brain Research 359: 950-957.