Peter Balsam

Peter Balsam (Chair, Department of Neuroscience & Behavior)

Samuel R. Milbank Professor


Neuroscience & Behavior, Psychology


226B Milbank Hall
By Appointment


Peter D. Balsam, Professor of Psychology and Samuel R. Milbank Chair, joined the Barnard faculty in 1975. He teaches such courses as Animal Cognition; Introduction to Statistics; Psychology of Learning; Senior Research Seminars; and Theories of Learning.

Professor Balsam seeks to understand how animals use temporal information to solve problems in flexible ways. His ongoing projects investigate the way that time is perceived, encoded and retrieved by animals and how this information guides their decisions about whether, when, and how to respond. He studies the brain mechanisms that underlie this very important aspect of adaptive behavior.

  • M.A., Ph.D., University of North Carolina
  • B.A., SUNY, Stony Brook

Simpson E.H. & Balsam P.D.  (in press) The Behavioral Neuroscience of Motivation: An Overview of Concepts, Measures, and Translational Applications. Current Topics in  Behavioral Neuroscience:  . 2015 Nov 25. [Epub ahead of print]  PMID: 26602246

Kirkpatrick, K. &  Balsam P.D. (in press) Associative learning and timing Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences,

Bailey M.R., Williamson, C., Mezias, C., Winiger, V., Silver, R., Balsam, P.D., Simpson E.H..The effects of pharmacological modulation of the serotonin 2C receptor on goal-directed behavior in mice.  Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print].  PMID: 26558617

Crossley, M., Horvitz, J. Balsam, P. & Ashby, F.G. (in press) Expanding the Role of Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons and the Midbrain Dopamine System in Appetitive Instrumental Conditioning, Journal of Neurophysiology, xx, xx-xx.  PMID:  26467514

Sanchez-Castillo, H., Taylor, K.M., Paz-Trejo, D.B., Arroyo-Araujo, M. Galicia-Castillo, O. (in press).  Subjective and Real Time: Coding Under Different Drug States.  International Journal of Comparative Psychology,

Avlar, B., Kahn, J.B.,Jensen, G., Kandel, E.R., Simpson, E.H. & Balsam, P.D (2015).  Improving temporal cognition by enhancing motivation.  Behavioral Neuroscience. 129(5):576-88. doi: 10.1037/bne0000083. PMID: 26371378

Kabitzke, P. A., Simpson, E.H., Kandel, E.R. & Balsam, P.D.  (2015).  Social Behavior in a Genetic Model of Dopamine Dysfunction at Different Neurodevelopmental Timepoints. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 14(7):503-15. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12233. Epub 2015 Aug 25. PMID:  26176662

Ward, R.D., Winger, V., Kandel, E.R., Balsam, P.D. & Simpson, E.H.  (2015) Orbitofrontal cortex mediates the differential impact of reward-associated cues on discrimination accuracy.  Frontiers in Neuroscience, 23;9:230. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00230. eCollection 2015. PMID: 26157358

Bailey, M.R., Jensen, G., Taylor, K., Mezias, C., Williamson, C., Silver, R., Simpson, E.H., Balsam, P.D. (2015).  A novel strategy for dissecting goal-directed action and arousal components of motivated behavior, Behavioral Neuroscience. 129(3):269-80. doi: 10.1037/bne0000060.PMID: 26030428

Ward, R.D.,  Winiger, V., Higa, J.,  Kahn, J.,  Kandel, E.R., Balsam, P.D,  Simpson, E.H. (2015)  The impact of motivation on cognitive performance in an animal model of the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.  Behavioral Neuroscience, 129, 292-299.

Van Volkinburg, H. & Balsam, P.D (2015). Effects of emotional valence and arousal on time perception. Timing and Time Percepton , 2, 360-78.

Parnaudeau, S., Taylor, K.T., Bolkan, S .S., Ward, R.D., Balsam, P. & Kellendonk, C. (2015)  Mediodorsal Thalamus Hypofunction Impairs Flexible Goal-Directed Behavior.  Biological Psychiatry, 77, 445-53.

Ward, R.D., Avlar, B. & Balsam, P.D. (2015) Interactions of timing and motivational impairments in schizophrenia .  In Argiro Vatakis & Melissa J. Allman (Eds.) Time Distortions in Mind – Temporal processing in clinical populations .   Leiden, Netherlands:  Brill. (pp. 168-189).

Gallistel, R.C. & Balsam, P.D (2014)  Time to rethink the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 136-144.

Metcalfe,J., Van Snellenberg, J.X., DeRosse, P., Balsam, P., & Malhotra, A.  (2014).  Judgments of agency in schizophrenia:  An impairment in autonoetic metacognition.  In S.M. Flemming & C.D. Frith (Eds.) The cognitive neuroscience of metacognition. Springer:  New York.

Taylor, K.T., Joseph, V., Zhao, A.S. & Balsam, P.D (2014) Temporal Maps in Appetitive Pavlovian Conditioning, Behvioural Processes, 101, 15-22.

Jensen, G., Ward, R.D. & Balsam P.D (2013).  Information: Theory, Brain, and Behavior.  Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 100, 408-431.

Jensen G, Stokes P.D., Paterniti A., Balsam P.D (2013)  Unexpected downshifts in reward magnitude induce variation in human behavior.  Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 436-444.

Parnaudeau, S., O’Neill, P., Bolkan, S.S., Ward, R.D., Abbas, A.I., Roth, B.L.,  Balsam,P.,  Gordon, J.A., & Kellendonk, C.  (2013) Inhibition of mediodorsal thalamus disrupts thalamofrontal connectivity and cognition.  Neuron, 77, 1151–1162.

Bailey, M.R. & Balslam, P.D ( 2013) Memory Reconsolidation: Time To Change Your Mind.  Current Biology, 23, R243-R245.

Markou, A., Salamone, J.D., Bussey, T., Mar, A., Brunner, D, Gilmour, G &  Balsam, P.D.  (2013).  Measuring reinforcement, motivation and learning constructs in experimental animals: Relevance to the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, Schizophrenia Bulletin, 37, 2149-2165.

Ward, R.D., Gallistel, C.R & Balsam, P.D. (2013) Its the Information!  Behavioral Processes, 95, 3-7.

 Trifilieff, P., Feng, B., Urizar, E., Winiger, V., Ward, R.D., Taylor, K.T., Moore, H., Balsam, P.D., Simpson, E. & Javitch, J.A. (2013)  Overexpression of Postsynaptic Dopamine D2 Receptor in the Nucleus Accumbens Enhances Motivation. Molecular Psychiatry, 18, 1025-1033.

  • Behavioral neuroscience
  • Learning, memory and cognition