Marta Pecina, MD PhD

  • Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Marta Pecina




Personal Website

Education & Training

MD, University of Navarre, Spain (2005)
PhD, University of Navarre, Spain (2009)


100 N. Bellefield Ave.

Research Interest Summary

Our lab aims to understand how individual expectancies and learning mechanisms influence treatment outcomes in psychiatric conditions, particularly mood disorders.

The main focus of our research is to examine individual differences in mechanisms of antidepressant treatment response in order to identify new targets for therapeutic interventions. In particular, we are interested in understanding how expectancies and learning mechanisms impact mood improvement using placebos as experimental probes. We use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) in conjunction with physiological and behavioral measures to investigate how the response to pharmacological treatments can be shaped by expectancies and learning mechanisms. Ultimately, our lab seeks to develop a hypothesis-driven mechanistic understanding of the neural computations that motivate behavior in order to understand, predict, and treat depression.

Representative Publications

Peciña M, Azhar H, Love TM, Lu T, Fredrickson BL, Stohler CS, Zubieta JK. Personality trait predictors of placebo analgesia and neurobiological correlates. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013 Mar;38(4):639-46. doi: 10.1038/npp.2012.227. Epub 2012 Nov 16. PubMed PMID: 23187726; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3572460.

Peciña M, Martínez-Jauand M, Hodgkinson C, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK. FAAH selectively influences placebo effects.Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;19(3):385-91. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.124. Epub 2013 Sep 17. PubMed PMID: 24042479; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4222079.

Peciña M, Martínez-Jauand M, Love T, Heffernan J, Montoya P, Hodgkinson C, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK. Valence-specific effects of BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on dopaminergic stress and reward processing in humans. J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 23;34(17):5874-81. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2152-13.2014. PubMed PMID: 24760847; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3996214.

Peciña M, Love T, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK. Effects of the Mu opioid receptor polymorphism (OPRM1 A118G) on pain regulation, placebo effects and associated personality trait measures. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Mar;40(4):957-65. doi: 10.1038/npp.2014.272. Epub 2014 Oct 13. PubMed PMID: 25308352; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4330509.

Peciña M, Bohnert AS, Sikora M, Avery ET, Langenecker SA, Mickey BJ, Zubieta JK. Association Between Placebo-Activated Neural Systems and Antidepressant Responses: Neurochemistry of Placebo Effects in Major Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Nov;72(11):1087-94. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1335. PubMed PMID: 26421634; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4758856.

Sikora M, Heffernan J, Avery ET, Mickey BJ, Zubieta JK, Peciña M. Salience Network Functional Connectivity Predicts Placebo Effects in Major Depression. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2016 Jan;1(1):68-76. PubMed PMID: 26709390; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4689203.

Peciña M, Sikora M, Avery ET, Heffernan J, Peciña S, Mickey BJ, Zubieta JK. Striatal dopamine D2/3 receptor-mediated neurotransmission in major depression: Implications for anhedonia, anxiety and treatment response. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Oct;27(10):977-986. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2017.08.427. Epub 2017 Sep 1. PubMed PMID: 28870407; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5623119.

Peciña M, Heffernan J, Wilson J, Zubieta JK, Dombrovski AY. Prefrontal expectancy and reinforcement-driven antidepressant placebo effects. Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 15;8(1):222. doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0263-y. PMID: 30323205; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6189213.

Chen J.*, Mizuno A.*, Lyew T., Karim H., Karp J.F., Dombrovski A.Y., Peciña M. Naltrexone Modulates Contextual Processing in Depression. Neuropsychopharmacol. (2020).   * Equal contributions.

Peciña M., Chen J., Lyew T., Karp J.F., Dombrovski A.Y. µ-Opioid antagonist naltrexone partially abolishes the antidepressant placebo effect and reduces OFC encoding of reinforcement (in press at Biological Psychiatry: CNNI).