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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, P.L., & Shepard, P.D. (2013) Lesions of the fasciculus retroflexus alter footshock induced cFos expression in the mesopontine rostromedial tegmental area of rats. PLoS One 8(4): e60678. 

Brown, P.L., & Shepard, P.D. (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. 

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

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

Elmer, G.I., Palacorolla, H., Mayo, C.L., Brown, P.L., Jhou, T.C., Brady, D., & Shepard, P.D. (2019) The rostromedial tegmental nucleus modulates the development of stress-induced helpless behaviour. Behavioural Brain Research 359: 950-957.

Bell, D., Waldron, V. J., & Brown, P. L. (2023). Quantitative and qualitative sex difference in habenula-induced inhibition of midbrain dopamine neurons in the rat. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience17, 1289407.