Skip to main content English


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; Cognitive Science; Decision Making; Dopamine; GABAergic Neurons; Learning; Limbic System; Motivation; Neuropharmacology; Neurophysiology and behavioral; Psychoses, Substance-Induced; Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate; Stress, Psychological

Research interests

Our research aims at elucidating the organization of cortico-limbic networks during cognition, sociability, and motivation. Thus, we explore how specific neurotransmitters support and orchestrate brain circuit functions as well as how dysfunctions within these systems elicit neuropathologies. 

In addition, we are interested in the mechanisms by which exposure to early-life stressors enhances the risk of developing psychiatric disorders. 

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

To address our questions, we employ a system- as well as a cellular-oriented approach in behavioral and genetic murine models, and investigate the dynamics of specific neuronal circuits by a battery of electrophysiological approaches, chemo-/ optogenetic techniques, and pharmacological manipulations; we also have access to confocal and fluorescence microscopes and to a molecular biology lab.

  • Electrophysiology, in vivo single-unit and intracellular recordings;
  • Electrophysiology, multi-unit recordings by acute silicon probes;
  • Electrophysiology, in-vitro whole-cell patch-clamp recordings;
  • Preclinical network pharmacology;
  • Cognitive and motivational behavioral tasks;
  • Rodent models of psychiatric 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: