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Tiffany Love

Tiffany Love, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments Adjunct - Psychiatry

Divisions: Adult Psychiatry

Academic Office Information

Research Interests

  • Neurosciences
  • Addiction
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Social Support
  • Social Behavior
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Oxytocin

Tiffany Love, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah with an extensive background in psychiatric neuroimaging and expertise in the areas of stress and motivation. Primarily, Dr. Love’s academic interests focus on understanding the neurobiological processes that underlie sensitivity to pain, reward, and addiction. She has over 17 years of experience utilizing neuroimaging to answer important research questions in the domains of addiction, mood, hormonal regulation, reward, and stress. Over the course of her career, Dr. Love has been strongly committed to conducting patient-oriented translational research. Using imaging techniques including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), arterial spin labeling (ASL), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and positron emission tomography (PET), Dr. Love has applied her experience and training towards investigating the neurobiological mechanisms conferring risk for psychiatric disorders and explored the influence of sex and reproductive hormones on neural responses to salient stimuli and their relationship to motivational and behavioral functioning.

Research Statement

Reward and motivational systems in the brain are responsible for assigning appropriate significance to everyday stimuli and establishing suitable responses. When these systems are affected by disease, reactions to natural rewards like food, sex and social interactions can be impaired. This can have significant impact on livelihood and can lead to severe impairment of an individual's health and well-being. In the case of substance use disorders (SUD), chronic drug exposure is associated with declines in social functioning, which is predictive of poorer disease trajectory. The origins of such impairments are not known, however, a growing body of evidence suggests drug use can alter reward pathways that are responsive to a wide array of incentives including social rewards. Unfortunately, this is an understudied area and the precise neurochemical elements that underlie such disruptions in social functioning in SUD are not well understood.

The goal of my research is to obtain better understanding of how the processing of social incentives is affected by chronic drug use. My current work explores how oxytocin, a neuropeptide known for its role in facilitating social interactions, may influence neural responses to social rewards. Preliminary studies conducted by our laboratory and others suggest oxytocin administration can affect neural activity within reward-sensitive areas in healthy subjects. Whether oxytocinergic modulation of these reward circuits is affected by chronic drug use has not been well studied in humans. This is of significant interest as oxytocin has been shown to interfere with addiction processes (i.e. tolerance formation, withdrawal, and self-administration) and clinical trials are currently underway which explore the use of oxytocin as an adjunctive therapy for SUD.

Education History

Postdoctoral Training University of Michigan, Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute
Postdoctoral Training
University of Michigan
Undergraduate University of New Mexico

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Smith AJ, Wright H, Griffin BJ, Ehman AC, Shoji K, Love TM, Morrow E, Locke A, Call M, Kerig PK, Olff M, Benight CC, Langenecker SA (2021). Mental Health Risks Differentially Associated with Immunocompromised Status among Healthcare Workers and Family Members at the Pandemic Outset. Brain Behav Immun, 15.
  2. Langenecker SA, Schreiner MW, Thomas LR, Bessette KL, DelDonno SR, Jenkins LM, Easter RE, Stange JP, Pocius SL, Dillahunt A, Love TM, Phan KL, Koppelmans V, Paulus M, Lindquist MA, Caffo B, Mickey BJ, Welsh RC (2021). Using network parcels and resting state networks to estimate correlates of mood disorder and related research domain criteria constructs of reward responsiveness and inhibitory control. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging, 7, 76-84.
  3. Wright HM, Griffin BJ, Shoji K, Love TM, Langenecker SA, Benight CC, Smith AJ (2020). Pandemic-related mental health risk among front line personnel. J Psychiatr Res, 137, 673-680.
  4. Hsu DT, Sankar A, Malik MA, Langenecker SA, Mickey BJ, Love TM (2020). Common neural responses to romantic rejection and acceptance in healthy adults. Soc Neurosci, 15(5), 571-583.
  5. Warthen KG, Boyse-Peacor A, Jones KG, Sanford B, Love TM, Mickey BJ (2020). Sex differences in the human reward system: convergent behavioral, autonomic and neural evidence. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci, 15(7), 789-801.
  6. Sankar A, Yttredahl AA, Fourcade EW, Mickey BJ, Love TM, Langenecker SA, Hsu DT (2019). Dissociable Neural Responses to Monetary and Social Gain and Loss in Women With Major Depressive Disorder. Front Behav Neurosci, 13, 149.
  7. Love TM (2018). The impact of oxytocin on stress: the role of sex. Curr Opin Behav Sci, 23, 136-142.
  8. Yttredahl AA, McRobert E, Sheler B, Mickey BJ, Love TM, Langenecker SA, Zubieta JK, Hsu DT (2018). Abnormal emotional and neural responses to romantic rejection and acceptance in depressed women. J Affect Disord, 234, 231-238.
  9. Love TM, Cranford JA, Burmeister M, Wojnar M, Zucker RA, J Brower K (2018). Oxytocin Genotype Moderates the Impact of Social Support on Psychiatric Distress in Alcohol-Dependent Patients. Alcohol Alcohol, 53(1), 57-63.
  10. Mickey BJ, Heffernan J, Heisel C, Pecia M, Hsu DT, Zubieta JK, Love TM (2016). Oxytocin modulates hemodynamic responses to monetary incentives in humans. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 233(23-24), 3905-3919.
  11. Martikainen IK, Nuechterlein EB, Pecina M, Love TM, Cummiford CM, Green CR, Stohler CS, Zubieta JK (2015). Chronic Back Pain Is Associated with Alterations in Dopamine Neurotransmission in the Ventral Striatum. J Neurosci, 35(27), 9957-65.
  12. Pecina M, Love T, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2015). Effects of the Mu opioid receptor polymorphism (OPRM1 A118G) on pain regulation, placebo effects and associated personality trait measures. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(4), 957-65.
  13. Hsu DT, Sanford BJ, Meyers KK, Love TM, Hazlett KE, Walker SJ, Mickey BJ, Koeppe RA, Langenecker SA, Zubieta JK (2015). It still hurts: altered endogenous opioid activity in the brain during social rejection and acceptance in major depressive disorder. Mol Psychiatry, 20(2), 193-200.
  14. Weiland BJ, Heitzeg MM, Zald D, Cummiford C, Love T, Zucker RA, Zubieta JK (2014). Relationship between impulsivity, prefrontal anticipatory activation, and striatal dopamine release during rewarded task performance. Psychiatry Res, 223(3), 244-52.
  15. DaSilva AF, Nascimento TD, DosSantos MF, Lucas S, van HolsbeecK H, DeBoer M, Maslowski E, Love T, Martikainen IK, Koeppe RA, Smith YR, Zubieta JK (2014). Association of mu-Opioid Activation in the Prefrontal Cortex with Spontaneous Migraine Attacks - Brief Report I. Ann Clin Transl Neurol, 1(6), 439-444.
  16. Nascimento TD, DosSantos MF, Lucas S, van Holsbeeck H, DeBoer M, Maslowski E, Love T, Martikainen IK, Koeppe RA, Smith YR, Zubieta JK, DaSilva AF (2014). mu-Opioid activation in the midbrain during migraine allodynia - brief report II. Ann Clin Transl Neurol, 1(6), 445-50.
  17. Pecina M, Martinez-Jauand M, Love T, Heffernan J, Montoya P, Hodgkinson C, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2014). Valence-specific effects of BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on dopaminergic stress and reward processing in humans. J Neurosci, 34(17), 5874-81.
  18. Love TM (2014). Oxytocin, motivation and the role of dopamine. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 119, 49-60.
  19. DosSantos MF, Martikainen IK, Nascimento TD, Love TM, DeBoer MD, Schambra HM, Bikson M, Zubieta JK, DaSilva AF (2014). Building up analgesia in humans via the endogenous mu-opioid system by combining placebo and active tDCS: a preliminary report. PLoS One, 9(7), e102350.
  20. Hsu DT, Sanford BJ, Meyers KK, Love TM, Hazlett KE, Wang H, Ni L, Walker SJ, Mickey BJ, Korycinski ST, Koeppe RA, Crocker JK, Langenecker SA, Zubieta JK (2013). Response of the mu-opioid system to social rejection and acceptance. Mol Psychiatry, 18(11), 1211-7.
  21. Martikainen IK, Pecina M, Love TM, Nuechterlein EB, Cummiford CM, Green CR, Harris RE, Stohler CS, Zubieta JK (2013). Alterations in endogenous opioid functional measures in chronic back pain. J Neurosci, 33(37), 14729-37.
  22. Marsh CA, Berent-Spillson A, Love T, Persad CC, Pop-Busui R, Zubieta JK, Smith YR (2013). Functional neuroimaging of emotional processing in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a case-control pilot study. Fertil Steril, 100(1), 200-7.e1.
  23. Pecina M, Azhar H, Love TM, Lu T, Fredrickson BL, Stohler CS, Zubieta JK (2013). Personality trait predictors of placebo analgesia and neurobiological correlates. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(4), 639-46.
  24. Pecina M, Mickey BJ, Love T, Wang H, Langenecker SA, Hodgkinson C, Shen PH, Villafuerte S, Hsu D, Weisenbach SL, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2013). DRD2 polymorphisms modulate reward and emotion processing, dopamine neurotransmission and openness to experience. Cortex, 49(3), 877-90.
  25. Burghardt PR, Love TM, Stohler CS, Hodgkinson C, Shen PH, Enoch MA, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2012). Leptin regulates dopamine responses to sustained stress in humans. J Neurosci, 32(44), 15369-76.
  26. Berent-Spillson A, Persad CC, Love T, Sowers M, Randolph JF, Zubieta JK, Smith YR (2012). Hormonal environment affects cognition independent of age during the menopause transition. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 97(9), E1686-94.
  27. Love TM, Enoch MA, Hodgkinson CA, Pecina M, Mickey B, Koeppe RA, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2012). Oxytocin gene polymorphisms influence human dopaminergic function in a sex-dependent manner. Biol Psychiatry, 72(3), 198-206.
  28. Mickey BJ, Sanford BJ, Love TM, Shen PH, Hodgkinson CA, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2012). Striatal dopamine release and genetic variation of the serotonin 2C receptor in humans. J Neurosci, 32(27), 9344-50.
  29. Hsu DT, Mickey BJ, Langenecker SA, Heitzeg MM, Love TM, Wang H, Kennedy SE, Pecina M, Shafir T, Hodgkinson CA, Enoch MA, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2012). Variation in the corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRHR1) gene influences fMRI signal responses during emotional stimulus processing. J Neurosci, 32(9), 3253-60.
  30. Shafir T, Love T, Berent-Spillson A, Persad CC, Wang H, Reame NK, Frey KA, Zubieta JK, Smith YR (2012). Postmenopausal hormone use impact on emotion processing circuitry. Behav Brain Res, 226(1), 147-53.
  31. DosSantos MF, Love TM, Martikainen IK, Nascimento TD, Fregni F, Cummiford C, Deboer MD, Zubieta JK, Dasilva AF (2012). Immediate effects of tDCS on the mu-opioid system of a chronic pain patient. Front Psychiatry, 3, 93.
  32. DosSantos MF, Martikainen IK, Nascimento TD, Love TM, Deboer MD, Maslowski EC, Monteiro AA, Vincent MB, Zubieta JK, DaSilva AF (2012). Reduced basal ganglia mu-opioid receptor availability in trigeminal neuropathic pain: a pilot study. Mol Pain, 8, 74.
  33. Smith YR, Bowen L, Love TM, Berent-Spillson A, Frey KA, Persad CC, Reame NK, Koeppe RA, Zubieta JK (2011). Early initiation of hormone therapy in menopausal women is associated with increased hippocampal and posterior cingulate cholinergic activity. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 96(11), E1761-70.
  34. Berent-Spillson A, Love T, Pop-Busui R, Sowers M, Persad CC, Pennington KP, Eyvazaddeh AD, Padmanabhan V, Zubieta JK, Smith YR (2011). Insulin resistance influences central opioid activity in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril, 95(8), 2494-8.
  35. Mickey BJ, Zhou Z, Heitzeg MM, Heinz E, Hodgkinson CA, Hsu DT, Langenecker SA, Love TM, Pecina M, Shafir T, Stohler CS, Goldman D, Zubieta JK (2011). Emotion processing, major depression, and functional genetic variation of neuropeptide Y. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 68(2), 158-66.
  36. Prossin AR, Love TM, Koeppe RA, Zubieta JK, Silk KR (2010). Dysregulation of regional endogenous opioid function in borderline personality disorder. Am J Psychiatry, 167(8), 925-33.
  37. Berent-Spillson A, Persad CC, Love T, Tkaczyk A, Wang H, Reame NK, Frey KA, Zubieta JK, Smith YR (2010). Early menopausal hormone use influences brain regions used for visual working memory. Menopause, 17(4), 692-9.
  38. Love T, Smith YR, Persad CC, Tkaczyk A, Zubieta JK (2010). Short-term hormone treatment modulates emotion response circuitry in postmenopausal women. Fertil Steril, 93(6), 1929-37.
  39. Love TM, Stohler CS, Zubieta JK (2009). Positron emission tomography measures of endogenous opioid neurotransmission and impulsiveness traits in humans. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 66(10), 1124-34.
  40. Persad CC, Zubieta JK, Love T, Wang H, Tkaczyk A, Smith YR (2009). Enhanced neuroactivation during verbal memory processing in postmenopausal women receiving short-term hormone therapy. Fertil Steril, 92(1), 197-204.
  41. Hutsler JJ, Love T, Zhang H (2007). Histological and magnetic resonance imaging assessment of cortical layering and thickness in autism spectrum disorders. Biol Psychiatry, 61(4), 449-57.
  42. Smith YR, Love T, Persad CC, Tkaczyk A, Nichols TE, Zubieta JK (2006). Impact of combined estradiol and norethindrone therapy on visuospatial working memory assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 91(11), 4476-81.
  43. Jung RE, Yeo RA, Love TM, Petropoulos H, Sibbitt WL Jr, Brooks WM (2002). Biochemical markers of mood: a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study of normal human brain. Biol Psychiatry, 51(3), 224-9.


  1. Love TM, Mickey B, Ericksen LC, Koppelmans V, Ballester J, Zubieta JK (2018). VTA Responses to Reward Altered in Chronic Pain: Effect of Sex [Abstract]. 56th Annual American College of Neuropsychopharmcology.