Susan F. Tapert, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry
University of California, San Diego
3350 La Jolla Village Drive (116B)
San Diego, CA 92161
Phone: (858) 552-8585 x7563


Dr. Tapert became interested in addictive behavior research as an undergraduate at University of Washington, working with Dr. G. Alan Marlatt at the Addictive Behaviors Research Center. Her focus on adolescence started during her graduate studies with Dr. Sandra A. Brown in the UCSD-SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, where she specialized in neuropsychology and behavioral medicine. Her dissertation, completed in 1998, was on the reciprocal effects of neuropsychological functioning and substance use in youth. Following completion of an APA clinical psychology internship at Brown University, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at UCSD on functional magnetic resonance imaging under the mentorship of Dr. Gregory G. Brown.

Research Focus
Dr. Tapert’s research focuses on brain functioning in adolescents with substance use disorders, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and neuropsychological testing. She also studies brain functioning in youths at risk for substance use disorders, investigating children with family histories of substance use disorders and with conduct disorder. Her studies evaluate adolescent brain development and gender differences. Recent work has focused on relationships between brain functioning and the progression of substance involvement, including the formation of alcohol and drug expectancies, coping skills, and brain response to substance-related stimuli to investigate the neural substrates of cue reactivity and craving. She has been awarded eight research grants from the National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2008 was honored with the APA Division 50 Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contribution Award, and in 2010 was elected to Fellow status in the American Psychological Association.

Clinical Focus
Dr. Tapert is Acting Chief of the VA San Diego Healthcare System Psychology Service, and a clinical psychologist licensed in the state of California.

Selected Publications

• Tapert SF, Brown GG, Kindermann S, Cheung E, Frank LR, & Brown SA (2001). fMRI measurement of brain dysfunction in alcohol dependent young women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 25, 236-245.

• Tapert SF, Granholm E, Leedy N, & Brown SA (2002). Substance use and withdrawal: Neuropsychological functioning over 8 years in youth. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 8, 873-883.

• Tapert SF, Cheung EH, Brown GG, Frank LR, Paulus MP, Schweinsburg AD, Meloy MJ, & Brown SA (2003). Neural response to alcohol stimuli in adolescents with alcohol use disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 727-735.

• Tapert S.F, Schweinsburg A.D, Barlett VC, Meloy MJ, Brown SA, Brown GG, & Frank LR (2004). Blood oxygen level dependent response and spatial working memory in adolescents with alcohol use disorders. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28, 1577-1586.

• Paulus MP, Tapert SF, & Schuckit MA (2005). Neural activation patterns of methamphetamine-dependent subjects during decision making predict relapse. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 761-768.

• Schweinsburg AD, Nagel BJ, & Tapert SF (2005). FMRI reveals alteration of spatial working memory networks across adolescence. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 11, 631-644.

• Medina KL, Schweinsburg AD, Cohen-Zion M, Nagel BJ, & Tapert SF (2007). Effects of alcohol and combined marijuana and alcohol use during adolescence on hippocampal volume and asymmetry. Neurotoxicology & Teratology, 29, 141-152.

• Medina, K.L., Hanson, K.L., Schweinsburg, A.D., Cohen-Zion, M., Nagel, B.J., & Tapert, S.F. (2007). Neuropsychological functioning in adolescent marijuana users: Subtle deficits detectable after a month of abstinence. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 13, 807-20.

• Tapert SF, Schweinsburg AD, Drummond SPA, Paulus MP, Brown SA, Yang TT, & Frank LR (2007). Functional MRI of inhibitory processing in abstinent adolescent marijuana users. Psychopharmacology, 194, 173-184..

• Medina KL, McQueeny T, Nagel BJ, Hanson KL, Schweinsburg AD, & Tapert SF (2008). Prefrontal cortex volumes in adolescents with alcohol use disorders: Unique gender effects. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32, 386–394.

• Schweinsburg AD, Nagel BJ, Schweinsburg BC, Park A, Theilmann RJ, & Tapert SF (2008). Abstinent adolescent marijuana users show altered fMRI response during spatial working memory. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 163, 40-51.

• Spadoni AD, Norman A, Schweinsburg AD, Tapert SF (2008). Effects of family history of alcohol use disorders on spatial working memory BOLD response in adolescents. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32, 1135-45.

• Jacobus J, McQueeny T, Bava S, Schweinsburg BC, Frank LR, Yang TT, & Tapert SF (2009). White matter integrity in adolescents with histories of binge drinking and marijuana use. Neurotoxicology & Teratology, 31, 349-355.

• McQueeny T, Schweinsburg BC, Schweinsburg AD, Jacobus J, Bava S, Frank LR, & Tapert SF (2009). Altered white matter integrity in adolescent binge drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 33, 1278-1285.

• Squeglia, LM, Spadoni, AD, Infante, MA, Myers, MG, & Tapert, SF (2009). Initiating moderate to heavy alcohol use predicts changes in neuropsychological functioning for adolescent girls and boys. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23, 715-722.

• Bava S, Thayer R, Jacobus J, Ward M, Jernigan TL, & Tapert SF (2010). Longitudinal characterization of white matter maturation during adolescence. Brain Research, 1327, 38-46.

• Pulido C, Brown SA, Cummins K, Paulus MP, & Tapert SF (2010). Alcohol cue reactivity task development. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 84-90.


University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0603 La Jolla, CA 92037-0603
Telephone: (858) 534-3684, Fax: (858) 534-7653, Electronic Mail: