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Matthäus Willeit
Ao. Univ. Prof. Dr. Matthäus Willeit

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Division of General Psychiatry)
Position: Associate Professor

ORCID: 0000-0001-8418-6188
T +43 1 40400-35690


Schizophrenia and Disorders with Psychotic Features

Research interests

Our group focuses on investigating dopaminergic changes underlying schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. It is known that patients with schizophrenia have an overly active dopamine system and show behavioral supersensitivity to amphetamine. Furthermore, we are interested in how cortical structures influence the regulation of the dopamine system and how dopamine synthesis and release are related. In our next project we will investigate the impact of Poly-unsatturated Fatty Acids on amphetamine-induced dopamine release in patients with schizophrenia, in individuals with an increased risk for schizophrenia and in healthy controls next to their cognitive abilities and brain activation during cognitive tasks. 

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

By using Positron Emission Tomography and the dopamine receptor D2/3 radioligand [11C]-(+)-PHNO we calculate amphetamine-induced dopamine release in healthy subjects and in patients with schizophrenia. Furthermore by structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging we will measure structural properties of cortical regions and brain activation during different tasks. 


  • Cortical structure and dopamine release in schizophrenia - a PET/MRI study (2017)
    Source of Funding: Medical Scientific Fund of the Mayor of the City of Vienna, BMF 15189
    Principal Investigator
  • "Wanting" and "liking": the neurochemical and neurocognitive basis of primary and social rewards in humans (2016)
    Source of Funding: WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund), CS15-003
    Principal Investigator
  • Imaging the functional and molecular impact of poly-unsaturated fatty acids on dopamine-dependent cognitive functions: a combined [11C]-(+)-PHNO PET/MRI study at different stages of cognitive impairment (2016)
    Source of Funding: WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund), CS15-033
    Principal Investigator
  • Influence of sex on dopamine transmissions in schizophrenia Patients and Healthy Subjects (2016)
    Source of Funding: OeNB (Oesterreichische Nationalbank), Anniversary Fund (ÖNB16723)
    Principal Investigator
  • Dopamine and cognition in schizophrenia (2015)
    Source of Funding: WWTF (Vienna Science and Technology Fund), CS15-033
    Principal Investigator
  • Measuring in-vivo brain dopamine release in first episode schizophrenia using the novel D2/3 receptor radioligand [11C]-(+)-PHNO (2013)
    Source of Funding: FWF (Austrian Science Fund), Stand-Alone Projects (P23585-B09)
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Weidenauer A, Bauer M, Sauerzopf U, Bartova L, Praschak-Rieder N, Sitte HH, Kasper S, Willeit M. Making sense of: Sensitization in Schizophrenia. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017;20(1).
  2. Vyssoki B, Kapusta ND, Praschak-Rieder N, Dorffner G, Willeit M. Direct effect of sunshine on suicide. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(11):1231-1237.
  3. Willeit M, Sitte HH, Thierry N, Michalek K, Praschak-Rieder N, Zill P, Winkler D, Brannath W, Fischer MB, Bondy B, Kasper S, Singer EA. Enhanced serotonin transporter function during depression in seasonal affective disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008;33(7):1503-1513.
  4. Willeit M, Ginovart N, Graff A, Rusjan P, Vitcu I, Houle S, Seeman P, Wilson AA, Kapur S. First human evidence of d-amphetamine induced displacement of a D<inf>2/3</inf>agonist radioligand: A [11C]-(+)-PHNO positron emission tomography study. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008;33(2):279-289.
  5. Wilson AA, McCormick P, Kapur S, Willeit M, Garcia A, Hussey D, Houle S, Seeman P, Ginovart N. Radiosynthesis and evaluation of [11C]-(+)-4-propyl-3,4,4a,5,6, 10b-hexahydro-2H-naphtho[1,2-b][1,4]oxazin-9-ol as a potential radiotracer for in vivo imaging of the dopamine D2 high-affinity state with positron emission tomography. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2005;48(12):4153-4160.