Gillinder Bedi, D.Psych.

Dr. Gillinder Bedi is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University and a Research Scientist at NYSPI. She completed graduate training at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, investigating cognitive function and mood in ecstasy and marijuana users. Her postdoctoral research, which focused on characterizing the acute prosocial effects of MDMA (ecstasy) in humans, was undertaken in the laboratory of Dr. Harriet de Wit at the University of Chicago. In Chicago, she also began using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the effects of drugs of abuse. Dr. Bedi joined the Division on Substance Abuse at Columbia University in 2009, initially working under the mentorship of Dr. Margaret Haney. Dr. Bedi’s research employs MRI (functional and structural) and acute drug administration to study clinically-relevant questions about drug abuse. Her research interests include: 1. Acute effects of MDMA and other ‘party’ drugs in humans; 2. Acute and chronic effects of abused drugs on social processing and behavior; and 3. The neurobiology of decision making about drugs.

Current Research Activities:

Acute Effects of MDMA and THC on Social Processing
Although some drug users report that they use drugs to make social interactions easier and more pleasurable, little is understood about the effects of drugs on social experiences. This research, using pharmaco-MRI to investigate the acute effects of MDMA and THC on human brain activity, will build on Dr. Bedi’s earlier work to better characterize the acute effects of MDMA and THC on social processing. Results will improve scientific knowledge about social motivations to use drugs.

Social Processing in Aging Cocaine Users
Deficits in social skills are recognized to be an important aspect of many psychiatric disorders, however social capacities in drug abusers remain largely unstudied. This research uses a multidimensional approach to investigate social skills in a growing group of drug users about whom little is known: older, long-term cocaine smokers. Results of this research could improve treatment for older cocaine smokers as well as providing a model for studying the role of social skills in drug dependence.

Decision-Making in Marijuana and Cocaine Smokers
A fundamental outstanding question for understanding drug abuse and developing effective treatments is how and why drug abusers repeatedly make decisions to take drugs in the face of escalating negative consequences. This project aims to improve understanding of problem drug use and ultimately contribute to treatment development by combining fMRI and laboratory drug self-administration to study the neural and behavioral processes involved in the decision to self-administer marijuana and cocaine in regular users of these drugs.

Teaching Activities
Dr. Bedi co-coordinates and teaches in the Research Design and Analysis course for T32 fellows across Psychiatry. She also lectures in the Division on Substance Abuse T32 fellowship course.

Training Opportunities
Dr. Bedi mentors undergraduate and graduate students completing thesis projects and contributes to training of the Division’s T32 postdoctoral fellows. She is a faculty mentor on the City College of New York/Columbia University Medical Center racial and ethic minority research training program.


Recent Publications