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Psychiatry & Behavioral Neurosciences

Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

Brendan Walker, Ph.D.

Brendan Walker, Ph.D.

Vice Chair of Research, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences

Professor, Molecular Medicine

Contact Info 3515 E Fletcher Ave
Tampa FL 33613

Academic Email:

Academic Phone:8139743715


  • PhD, Behavioral Neuroscience, University of California, 2004

Interdisciplinary and Emerging Signature Programs

  • Neuroscience

Research Interests

  • My long-term research interest has been the neurobiology of motivational systems and how acute and long-term alcohol (and other drugs of abuse such as heroin) impact neural systems to promote increased drug seeking and consumption. Utilizing a combination of behavioral, anatomical, pharmacological, immunohistochemical, molecular and genetic approaches, we are currently evaluating the neuroadaptations produced by chronic ethanol exposure that promote enhanced intake of these abused compounds. Consequently, we are extremely interested in dependence-induced depression and anxiety because they appear to lay the foundation for the observed increases in the negative reinforcing properties of abused substances. As an extension of this work, we also focus on the morphological and molecular mechanisms of plasticity associated with negative reinforcement learning. The lab is also investigating altered executive function produced by chronic alcohol and drug exposure.

Recent Publications

  • Lepreux G, Shinn GE, Wei G, Suko A, Concepcion G, Sirohi S, Soon Go B, Bruchas MR, Walker BM. Recapitulating phenotypes of alcohol dependence via overexpression of Oprk1 in the ventral tegmental area of non-dependent TH::Cre rats. Neuropharmacology. 228: 109457, 2023.
  • Wei G, Sirohi S, Walker BM. Dysregulated kappa-opioid receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex contribute to working memory deficits in alcohol dependence. Addiction biology. 27(2) : e13138, 2022.
  • Go BS, Sirohi S, Walker BM. The role of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in negative reinforcement learning and plasticity in alcohol dependence. Addiction biology. 25(2) : e12715, 2020.
  • Massaly N, Copits BA, Wilson-Poe AR, Hipólito L, Markovic T, Yoon HJ, Liu S, Walicki MC, Bhatti DL, Sirohi S, Klaas A, Walker BM, Neve R, Cahill CM, Shoghi KI, Gereau RW, McCall JG, Al-Hasani R, Bruchas MR, Morón JA. Pain-Induced Negative Affect Is Mediated via Recruitment of The Nucleus Accumbens Kappa Opioid System. Neuron. 102(3) : 564-573.e6, 2019.
  • Erikson CM, Wei G, Walker BM. Maladaptive behavioral regulation in alcohol dependence: Role of kappa-opioid receptors in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Neuropharmacology. 140: 162-173, 2018.
  • Walker BM. Jaak Panksepp: Pioneer of Affective Neuroscience. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 42(12) : 2470, 2017.
  • Sirohi S, Aldrich JV, Walker BM. Species differences in the effects of the κ-opioid receptor antagonist zyklophin. Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.). 51: 43-9, 2016.
  • Kissler JL, Walker BM. Dissociating Motivational From Physiological Withdrawal in Alcohol Dependence: Role of Central Amygdala κ-Opioid Receptors. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 41(2) : 560-7, 2016.
  • Sirohi S, Walker BM. Maturational alterations in constitutive activity of medial prefrontal cortex kappa-opioid receptors in Wistar rats. Journal of neurochemistry. 135(4) : 659-65, 2015.
  • Hipólito L, Wilson-Poe A, Campos-Jurado Y, Zhong E, Gonzalez-Romero J, Virag L, Whittington R, Comer SD, Carlton SM, Walker BM, Bruchas MR, Morón JA. Inflammatory Pain Promotes Increased Opioid Self-Administration: Role of Dysregulated Ventral Tegmental Area μ Opioid Receptors. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 35(35) : 12217-31, 2015.
  • Kissler JL, Sirohi S, Reis DJ, Jansen HT, Quock RM, Smith DG, Walker BM. The one-two punch of alcoholism: role of central amygdala dynorphins/kappa-opioid receptors. Biological psychiatry. 75(10) : 774-82, 2014.
  • Walker BM, Kissler JL. Dissociable effects of kappa-opioid receptor activation on impulsive phenotypes in wistar rats. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 38(11) : 2278-85, 2013.
  • Berger AL, Williams AM, McGinnis MM, Walker BM. Affective cue-induced escalation of alcohol self-administration and increased 22-kHz ultrasonic vocalizations during alcohol withdrawal: role of kappa-opioid receptors. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 38(4) : 647-54, 2013.
  • Williams AM, Reis DJ, Powell AS, Neira LJ, Nealey KA, Ziegler CE, Kloss ND, Bilimoria JL, Smith CE, Walker BM. The effect of intermittent alcohol vapor or pulsatile heroin on somatic and negative affective indices during spontaneous withdrawal in Wistar rats. Psychopharmacology. 223(1) : 75-88, 2012.
  • Walker BM, Valdez GR, McLaughlin JP, Bakalkin G. Targeting dynorphin/kappa opioid receptor systems to treat alcohol abuse and dependence. Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.). 46(4) : 359-70, 2012.
  • Walker BM. Conceptualizing withdrawal-induced escalation of alcohol self-administration as a learned, plasticity-dependent process. Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.). 46(4) : 339-48, 2012.
  • Sirohi S, Bakalkin G, Walker BM. Alcohol-induced plasticity in the dynorphin/kappa-opioid receptor system. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience. 5: 95, 2012.
  • Smith AW, Nealey KA, Wright JW, Walker BM. Plasticity associated with escalated operant ethanol self-administration during acute withdrawal in ethanol-dependent rats requires intact matrix metalloproteinase systems. Neurobiology of learning and memory. 96(2) : 199-206, 2011.
  • Walker BM, Zorrilla EP, Koob GF. Systemic κ-opioid receptor antagonism by nor-binaltorphimine reduces dependence-induced excessive alcohol self-administration in rats. Addiction biology. 16(1) : 116-9, 2011.
  • Walker JL, Walker BM, Fuentes FM, Rector DM. Rat psychomotor vigilance task with fast response times using a conditioned lick behavior. Behavioural brain research. 216(1) : 229-37, 2011.
  • Nealey KA, Smith AW, Davis SM, Smith DG, Walker BM. κ-opioid receptors are implicated in the increased potency of intra-accumbens nalmefene in ethanol-dependent rats. Neuropharmacology. 61(1) : 35-42, 2011.
  • Walker BM, Drimmer DA, Walker JL, Liu T, Mathé AA, Ehlers CL. Effects of prolonged ethanol vapor exposure on forced swim behavior, and neuropeptide Y and corticotropin-releasing factor levels in rat brains. Alcohol (Fayetteville, N.Y.). 44(6) : 487-93, 2010.
  • Walker BM, Ehlers CL. Appetitive motivational experience during adolescence results in enhanced alcohol consumption during adulthood. Behavioral neuroscience. 123(4) : 926-35, 2009.


  • Mid-Career Achievement Award (College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University - 2019)
  • National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow (US National Academy of Sciences - 2013)
  • Early Achievement in Scholarship Award (College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University - 2012)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (President of the United States of America - 2012)
  • Young Investigator Award (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - 2011)