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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

Our research focuses on disorders of cognition and motivation, including schizophrenia, amphetamine-sensitization and Alzheimer's Disease.

We are interested in how dysfunctions within the dopamine and adenosine systems elicit variations in cortical network dynamics leading to pathology. In addition, we 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 of the cortex and the limbic system by a battery of electrophysiological approaches, chemo-/ optogenetic techniques 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 psychosis, cognitive and stress disorders;
  • 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: