Patricia Janak investigates the biological basis of behavior and associative learning, with a particular focus on addiction. She examines the role environmental stimuli take in regulating emotional responses and impacting decision-making, aiming to better understand how drug- and alcohol-associated stimuli contribute to relapse.
Janak’s research is focused on the behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms underlying adaptive and maladaptive associative learning. She combines formal learning theories and models of behavior with cutting-edge systems neuroscience tools to interrogate how learning changes the way neural circuits operate in the brain. Janak studies these changes both in normal learning scenarios and in pathological learning, such as drug addiction or post-traumatic stress disorder. Her current research goals are to understand the amygdala’s role in behavior triggered by cues associated with both positive and negative outcomes, the function dopamine serves in reward-related behavior, and the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying drug relapse.
Janak joined Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2014 from the University of California, San Francisco.