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Ornella Valenti
Assoc. Prof. Priv. Doz. Dr. MSc Ornella Valenti

Center for Physiology and Pharmacology (Division of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology)
Position: Associate Professor

ORCID: 0000-0003-3647-6046
T +43 1 40160 31220


Adenosine; Biological Psychiatry; Cerebral Cortex; Cognition Disorders; Dopamine; GABAergic Neurons; Limbic System; Neuropharmacology; Neurophysiology and behavioral; Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate; Stress, Psychological

Research interests

I am interested in neuronal circuits engaged in learning, motivation and pro-social behavior. With this respect, a current project interrogates the role of tonic GABA currents in cognitive processing.  In addition, I examine the means by which the experience of early-life stress might enhance the risk of developing psychiatric disorders. 

To this end, we employ a system as well as a cellular approach in behavioral and genetic murine models, and investigate the dynamics of specific neuronal circuits by a battery of electrophysiological approaches and pharmacological manipulations. As part of Prof. Boehm group, we also have access to confocal and fluorescence microscopes, and to a molecular biology lab.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

  • Electrophysiology, in-vivo and ex-vivo single unit recordings from anesthetized rodents;
  • Electrophysiology, whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from rodent acute slices;
  • Cognitive and motivational behavioral tasks;
  • Rodent models of stress disorders and psychosis;
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Confocal and fluorescence microscopy


  • Role of the medial prefrontal cortex - basolateral amygdala circuit in consolidation of fear extinction (2007)
    Source of Funding: Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, NARSAD Young Investigator Award (USA)
    Principal Investigator

Selected publications

  1. Valenti, O., Zambon, A. & Boehm, S., 2021. Orchestration of Dopamine Neuron Population Activity in the Ventral Tegmental Area by Caffeine: Comparison With Amphetamine. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. Available at:
  2. Valenti, O., Mikus, N. & Klausberger, T., 2018. The cognitive nuances of surprising events: exposure to unexpected stimuli elicits firing variations in neurons of the dorsal CA1 hippocampus. Brain Structure and Function, 223(7), pp.3183–3211. Available at:
  3. Valenti, O. et al., 2011. Antipsychotic Drugs Rapidly Induce Dopamine Neuron Depolarization Block in a Developmental Rat Model of Schizophrenia. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(34), pp.12330-12338. Available at:
  4. Valenti, O., Lodge, D.J. & Grace, A.A., 2011. Aversive Stimuli Alter Ventral Tegmental Area Dopamine Neuron Activity via a Common Action in the Ventral Hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(11), pp.4280-4289. Available at:
  5. Valenti, O. et al., 2003. Group III Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor-Mediated Modulation of the Striatopallidal Synapse. The Journal of Neuroscience, 23(18), pp.7218–7226. Available at: