Christoph Kellendonk, PhD

Christoph Kellendonk, PhD

Research Interest

The Kellendonk laboratory uses mouse genetic tools in an effort to understand the biology that underlies cognitive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is characterized by three symptom clusters: the cognitive, negative and positive symptoms. While the positive symptoms – which include disordered thought processes, hallucinations and delusions – are the most characteristic feature of the disorder, such symptoms are more difficult to model in the mouse. In contrast, cognitive and negative symptoms of the disorder – including deficits in working memory and motivation – have behavioral readouts in mice that are more homologous to humans. Cognitive and negative symptoms are poorly understood, difficult to treat and their severities are a better predictor for the long-term prognosis of patients than the degree of positive symptoms.

Our approach uses observations made in patients with schizophrenia (e.g. with brain imaging) and then seeks to “model” these observations as closely as possible in the mouse. This allows for establishing causality between a specific brain alteration and changes in behavior. Using this approach we hope to achieve three main goals:

1)         To better understand the basic neuronal mechanisms that support cognitive and motivated behaviors

2)         To inspire new studies in humans based on observations made in the mouse

3)         To identify new treatment strategies for enhancing cognition and motivation

  • Benoit L., Holt. E., Pisano L., Fusi S., Harris A.Z, Canetta S., Kellendonk. C. Adolescent thalamic inhibition leads to long-lasting impairments in prefrontal cortex function (2022) Nature Neuroscience 25(6):714-725
  • E.F. Gallo, J. Greenwald, E. Teboul, K. Martyniuk, N. Zarrelli, Y. Li, J.A. Javitch, P. Balsam, C. Kellendonk (2021) Dopamine D2 receptors modulate the cholinergic pause and inhibitory learning Mol Psychiatry 27(3):1502-1514
  •  S.E. Canetta, E.S. Holt, L.J. Benoit, E. Teboul, R.T. Ogden, A.Z. Harris, C. Kellendonk (2022) Mature parvalbumin interneuron function in prefrontal cortex requires activity during a postnatal sensitive period. eLife Dec 28;11:e80324. doi: 10.7554/eLife.80324.
  • Gallo E.F., Meszaros J., Sherman J.D., Chohan M.O., Teboul E., Choi C.S., Moore H., Javitch J.A., Kellendonk C. (2018) Accumbens Dopamine D2 Receptors increase motivation by decreasing inhibitory transmission to the ventral pallidum Nature Communications 14;9(1):1086.  
  • Bolkan S., Stujenske J.M., Parnaudeau S., Spellman T.J, Rauffenbart C., Abbas A., Harris A.Z., Gordon J.A., Kellendonk C. (2017) Thalamic projections sustain prefrontal activity during working memory maintenance Nature Neuroscience doi:10.1038/nn.4568 
  • K. M. Martyniuk, A. Torres-Herraez, D. Lowes, M. Rubinstein, M. A. Labouesse, C. Kellendonk (2022) Dopamine D2Rs Coordinate Cue-Evoked Changes in Striatal Acetylcholine Levels eLife Jul 20;11:e76111. doi: 10.7554/eLife.76111.
  • S. Canetta, S. Bolkan, N. Padilla-Coreano, L.J. Song, R. Sahn, N.L. Harrison, J.A. Gordon, A. Brown, C. Kellendonk (2016) Maternal immune activation leads to selective functional deficits in offspring parvalbumin interneurons. Molecular Psychiatry 21(7):956-68 
  • Cazorla M, de Carvalho FD, Chohan MO, Shegda M, Chuhma N, Rayport S, Ahmari SE, Moore H, Kellendonk C. (2014) Dopamine D2 receptors regulate the anatomical and functional balance of basal ganglia circuitry. Neuron. 81:153-164. 
  • Parnaudeau S, O'Neill PK, Bolkan SS, Ward RD, Abbas AI, Roth BL, Balsam PD, Gordon JA, Kellendonk C. (2013) Inhibition of mediodorsal thalamus disrupts thalamofrontal connectivity and cognition. Neuron. 77:1151-1162.

For a complete list of publications, please visit

  • Culturally Aware Mentoring Workshop from the University of Wisconsin (co-sponsored by Columbia University)