Godfrey Pearlson, MA, MBBS

Professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience

Departments & Organizations

Psychiatry: Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism | Division of Aging & Geriatric Psychiatry | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center

Office of Cooperative Research


Dr. Pearlson's medical school training was in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England . Following this he completed a graduate degree in philosophy at Columbia University in New York and was successively a resident, postdoctoral fellow and faculty member at Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychiatry under Dr. Paul McHugh, where he was ultimately Professor of Psychiatry and founding director of the division of Psychiatry Neuroimaging.

Dr. Pearlson is currently founding director of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, a 50-person organization consisting of 4 component labs. The Center specializes in the translational neuroscience of major mental illness, including dementias, mood disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorder, PTSD, autism and other conditions spanning childhood to old age.

The center includes two 3-Tesla research-dedicated MRI scanners and scans over 1200 individuals annually, all of whom are genotyped. It has a fully equipped psychophysiology lab and a bio-bank for specimen storage. The Center also specializes in the importation of virtual reality (VR) paradigms into the functional MRI environment to yield ecologically valid "virtual environments" to study complex behaviors in the scanner such as automobile driving.

Dr. Pearlson's research uses neuroimaging as a tool to address a broader array of questions regarding the neurobiology of major mental disorders, primarily psychosis and substance abuse. Important "firsts" include showing that structural and functional brain changes associated with schizophrenia can also occur in psychotic bipolar disorder, the relationship of structural and functional abnormalities in the superior temporal gyrus with hallucinations in schizophrenia, using VR to explore complex behaviors in the MRI scanner (or example simulated driving) to assess disruptive effects of abused substances and the first demonstration of human in-vivo cocaine-mediated dopamine release using PET ligands. As part of the BSNIP consortium, his lab contributed towards a reconceptualization of psychotic illness based on biological, rather than clinical syndromic criteria.

Dr. Pearlson is an former NIMH MERIT awardee and is PI on multiple R01 grants from NIAAA, NIDA and NIMH. He has been awarded a NARSAD Distinguished Investigator award and a Michael visiting professorship from the Weizmann Institute. He has published >600 peer-reviewed research articles, with an H-index of 78. He is also co-founder of the annual BrainDance competition for high school and college students across New England. These competitive awards encourage students to gain knowledge about psychiatric diseases and to develop a more tolerant and realistic perspective towards people with severe psychiatric problems.

Dr. Pearlson was awarded the 2015 Stanley Dean Award for Schizophrenia Research from the American College of Psychiatrists and in 2015 was inducted into the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (distinguished alumni).
Current important intra-departmental collaborations are with Drs. Krystal (CTNA), Gelernter and Potenza.

Education & Training

MA Columbia University (1976)
MBBS Newcastle University (1974)

Honors & Recognition

  • Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (distinguished alumni)Johns Hopkins University (2015)

  • Stanley Dean Schizophrenia Research AwardAmerican College of Psychiatrists (2015)

  • Distinguished Life FellowAmerican Psychiatric Association (2014)

  • Nelson Butters AwardNational Academy of Neuropsychology (2011)

  • MERIT AwardNational Institute of Mental Health (2008)

  • Michael Visiting ProfessorshipWeizmann Inst. Israel (2000)

  • NARSAD Distinguished InvestigatorNARSAD (now Brain Behavior Foundation) (2000)

  • Ziskin-Somerfeld Research AwardSociety of Biological Psychiatry (1996)


  • Community Garden Hartford, United States (2013)

    BTS Jessie's community garden grows and supplies food to homeless and needy in Hartford, Connecticut.

  • Annual BrainDance Competition United States (2006)

    Encourages mental illness awareness through awards for essays and art projects from students in high school, throughout Connecticut on the theme of stigma associated with psychiatric disorders.

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Contact Info

Godfrey Pearlson, MA, MBBS
Mailing Addresses
300 George St
New Haven, CT 06511-
ONRC, 200 Retreat Ave
Hartford, CT 06106

Curriculum Vitae

Olin Research Center

Biological Pathways Implicated in Common Across AOD,  Paired Stimulus Processing & Resting EEG

Various electrophysiological abnormalities were investigated in BSNIP including the P 300 evoked potential, responses to paired acoustic stimuli and resting state EEG patterns. All were analyzed using parallel independent component analysis, similar to the example above and resulting biological pathways implicated by the gene components compared for overlap among all three electrophysiological measures. Interestingly, a relatively small number of processes was implicated including development migration and maturation of cortical neurons, and neuronal signal generation and amplification. These findings strongly support a neurodevelopmental model of psychotic illnesses.

Psychosis risk genes related to aberrant resting functional MRI patterns

Illustration from a PNAS paper, describing results from BSNIP (see above), using parallel independent component analysis.Figure shows SNP components related to functional MRI default mode components that distinguished psychotic patients from healthy controls.results show the functional significance in terms of gene ontology/biologic implications of putative psychosis risk genes related to abnormal functional brain activity patterns in individuals with psychotic illnesses. He