Edward Levin

Edward Levin


Dr. Levin is Chief of the Neurobehavioral Research Lab in the Psychiatry Department of Duke University Medical Center. His primary academic appointment is as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He also has secondary appointments in the Department Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. His primary research effort is to understand basic neural interactions underlying cognitive function and addiction and to apply this knowledge to better understand cognitive dysfunction and addiction disorders and to develop novel therapeutic treatments.

The three main research components of his laboratory are focused on the themes of the basic neurobiology of cognition and addiction, neurobehavioral toxicology and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for cognitive dysfunction and substance abuse. Currently, our principal research focus concerns nicotine. We have documented the basic effects of nicotine on learningm memory and attention as well as nicotine self-administration. We are continuing with more mechanistic studies in rat models using selective lesions, local infusions and neurotransmitter interaction studies. We have found that nicotine improves memory performance not only in normal rats, but also in rats with lesions of hippocampal and basal forebrain connections. We are concentrating on alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor subtypes in the hippocampus, amygdala , thalamus and frontal cortex and how they interact with dopamine D1 and D2 and glutamate NMDA systems with regard to memory and addiction. I am also conducting studies on human cognitive behavior. We have current studies to assess nicotine effects on attention, memory and mental processing speed in schizophrenics, Alzheimer's Disease patients and people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the area of neurobehavioral toxicology, I have continuing projects to characterize the adverse effects of prenatal and adolescent nicotine exposure. Our primary project in neurobehavioral toxicology focuses on the cognitive deficits caused by the marine toxins including domoic acid, ciguatera toxin and pfiesteria. We have documented a persistent neurobehavioral effects caused by Pfiesteria and domoic acid exposure. We are determining the neurobehavioral nature and mechanisms of this deficit. The basic and applied aims of our research complement each other nicely. The findings concerning neural mechanisms underlying cognitive function help direct the behavioral toxicology and therapeutic development studies, while the applied studies provide important functional information concerning the importance of the basic mechanisms under investigation.


Levin, Edward D., Kristen Pizarro, Wyki Gina Pang, Jerry Harrison, and John S. Ramsdell. “Persisting behavioral consequences of prenatal domoic acid exposure in rats..” Neurotoxicol Teratol 27, no. 5 (September 2005): 719–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2005.06.017.
Levin, Edward D. “Fetal nicotinic overload, blunted sympathetic responsivity, and obesity..” Birth Defects Res a Clin Mol Teratol 73, no. 7 (July 2005): 481–84. https://doi.org/10.1002/bdra.20162.
Levin, Edward D., N Channelle Christopher, and James D. Crapo. “Memory decline of aging reduced by extracellular superoxide dismutase overexpression..” Behav Genet 35, no. 4 (July 2005): 447–53. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-004-1510-y.
Addy, Nii A., Ana Pocivavsek, and Edward D. Levin. “Reversal of clozapine effects on working memory in rats with fimbria-fornix lesions..” Neuropsychopharmacology 30, no. 6 (June 2005): 1121–27. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.npp.1300669.
Levin, Edward D., Yousef Tizabi, Amir H. Rezvani, D Patrick Caldwell, Ann Petro, and Bruk Getachew. “Chronic nicotine and dizocilpine effects on regionally specific nicotinic and NMDA glutamate receptor binding..” Brain Res 1041, no. 2 (April 18, 2005): 132–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2005.01.104.
Levin, Edward D., Holly A. Swain, Sue Donerly, and Elwood Linney. “Developmental chlorpyrifos effects on hatchling zebrafish swimming behavior..” Neurotoxicol Teratol 26, no. 6 (November 2004): 719–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2004.06.013.
Levin, Edward D., and Elaine Chen. “Nicotinic involvement in memory function in zebrafish..” Neurotoxicol Teratol 26, no. 6 (November 2004): 731–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2004.06.010.
Rezvani, Amir H., and Edward D. Levin. “Nicotine-antipsychotic drug interactions and attentional performance in female rats..” Eur J Pharmacol 486, no. 2 (February 20, 2004): 175–82. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejphar.2003.12.021.
White, Heidi K., and Edward D. Levin. “Chronic transdermal nicotine patch treatment effects on cognitive performance in age-associated memory impairment..” Psychopharmacology (Berl) 171, no. 4 (February 2004): 465–71. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-003-1614-8.
Icenogle, Laura M., N Channelle Christopher, W Paul Blackwelder, D Patrick Caldwell, Dan Qiao, Frederic J. Seidler, Theodore A. Slotkin, and Edward D. Levin. “Behavioral alterations in adolescent and adult rats caused by a brief subtoxic exposure to chlorpyrifos during neurulation..” Neurotoxicol Teratol 26, no. 1 (January 2004): 95–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ntt.2003.09.001.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 815: Focused Topics in Toxicology (ENVIRON 815: Focused Topics in Toxicology)
NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2 (NEUROSCI 494: Research Independent Study 2)
PHARM 815: Focused Topics in Toxicology (PHARM 815: Focused Topics in Toxicology)
PHARM 394: Research Independent Study (PHARM 394: Research Independent Study)
NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1 (NEUROSCI 493: Research Independent Study 1)

Contact Information

323 Foster St
Durham, NC 27701
Box 104790
Durham, NC 27710


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison (1984)