Nora Volkow, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Laboratory of Neuroimaging




6001 Executive Boulevard
Room 5274
Rockville, MD 20852


Research Topics

My laboratory uses brain imaging (PET and MRI) to study the neurocircuitry that underlies the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse and of natural reinforcers and their disruption in diseases of addiction and obesity. For this purposes it studies how reward circuits modulate executive function (self-control), interoception, and motivation in the normal human brain including an understanding of the role of brain dopamine signaling, functional brain network interactions and genetics (Dr Elena Shumai). It evaluates the disruption of these interactions in addiction, morbid obesity (Dr Gene-Jack Wang) and ADHD, which are disorders characterized by deficits in self-control and reward sensitivity. It also focuses on methodological studies to advance the tools to study function of the human brain including development of PET radiotracers (Dr Sunny Kim), which is focused on the development of ligands to map epigenetic processes, development of analytical tools (Dr Dardo Tomasi) to help analyze and understand the underlying physiology behind the dynamically complex patterns of brain networks and on the sensitivity of the human brain to electro magnetic perturbations (magnetic fields from MRI and cell phone radiation).


M.D.: National University of Mexico UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico - 1975-1980.
Postdoctoral: New York University, New York, NY - 1980-1984. (Residency in Psychiatry).

Selected Publications

  1. Zhang R, Manza P, Tomasi D, Kim SW, Shokri-Kojori E, Demiral SB, Kroll DS, Feldman DE, McPherson KL, Biesecker CL, Wang GJ, Volkow ND. Dopamine D1 and D2 receptors are distinctly associated with rest-activity rhythms and drug reward. J Clin Invest. 2021.
  2. Wiers CE, Vendruscolo LF, van der Veen JW, Manza P, Shokri-Kojori E, Kroll DS, Feldman DE, McPherson KL, Biesecker CL, Zhang R, Herman K, Elvig SK, Vendruscolo JCM, Turner SA, Yang S, Schwandt M, Tomasi D, Cervenka MC, Fink-Jensen A, Benveniste H, Diazgranados N, Wang GJ, Koob GF, Volkow ND. Ketogenic diet reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms in humans and alcohol intake in rodents. Sci Adv. 2021;7(15).
  3. Shokri-Kojori E, Tomasi D, Alipanahi B, Wiers CE, Wang GJ, Volkow ND. Correspondence between cerebral glucose metabolism and BOLD reveals relative power and cost in human brain. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):690.
  4. Shokri-Kojori E, Wang GJ, Wiers CE, Demiral SB, Guo M, Kim SW, Lindgren E, Ramirez V, Zehra A, Freeman C, Miller G, Manza P, Srivastava T, De Santi S, Tomasi D, Benveniste H, Volkow ND. β-Amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018;115(17):4483-4488.
  5. Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Kollins SH, Wigal TL, Newcorn JH, Telang F, Fowler JS, Zhu W, Logan J, Ma Y, Pradhan K, Wong C, Swanson JM. Evaluating dopamine reward pathway in ADHD: clinical implications. JAMA. 2009;302(10):1084-91.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 24, 2021