Carl L. Hart, Ph.D.

Dr. Hart is an Associate Professor of Psychology in both the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University, and Director of the Residential Studies and Methamphetamine Research Laboratories at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. A major focus of Dr. Hart’s research is to understand behavioral, physiological, and subjective effects of psychoactive drugs in experienced users. He is the author or co-author of dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles in the area of substance abuse, co-author of the textbook, Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior, and a member of a NIH review group. Dr. Hart was recently elected to Fellow status by the American Psychological Association (Division 28) for his outstanding contribution to the field of psychology, specifically psychopharmacology and substance abuse.


Teaching Activities:

Dr. Hart teaches an entry level course entitled Drugs & Behavior (PSYC W2460) and an advanced seminar entitled Topics in Neurobiology & Behavior (PSYC G4440) in the Department of Psychology.

Training Opportunities:

Dr. Hart is currently seeking applicants for the Ph.D. program in the Department of Psychology and for the NIDA-funded Substance Abuse Postdoctoral Fellowship program in the Division on Substance Abuse within the Department of Psychiatry.

Current Research Activities:

Laboratory Model of Shift Work
Recently, Dr. Hart and colleagues developed a laboratory model of shift work and have begun characterizing drug effects on individuals working irregular schedules. They have shown that that psychomotor performance and mood are disrupted during night shift work; these shift change-related effects are differentially modified by the hypnotic zolpidem administered one hour before bedtime and the stimulant methamphetamine administered one hour after waking. Zolpidem improves subjective reports of sleep quality and, to a lesser extent, performance. Next-day mood, however, appears to be worsened by zolpidem, particularly during the night shift condition. In contrast, methamphetamine attenuates virtually all night shift-related performance impairments. The results from these studies may be of particular significance in occupations that require abrupt changes in work schedules, e.g., health care workers, police officers, and military personnel.

Assessment of Cognitive Functioning During Intoxication
A major focus of this research is the development and implementation of new complex cognitive tasks that are sensitive to drug effects. Complex cognitive performance (e.g., shifting of mental sets, inhibiting of prepotent responses, abstraction) during acute marijuana intoxication has received little formal experimental attention. We have begun evaluating the effects of acute marijuana smoking on complex cognitive performance in experienced marijuana smokers. Our data indicate that marijuana has no effect on accuracy on measures of cognitive flexibility, mental calculation, and reasoning, but it significantly increases the number of premature responses and the time participants require to complete many cognitive tasks. Findings from this research suggest that the consistent slowing of cognitive performance during intoxication may have significant behavioral effects under some circumstances requiring complex operations that must be accomplished in a limited time frame, such as certain workplace tasks and the operation of machinery and automobiles. The results of these studies may have substantial public health implications and could contribute to both educational and public policy developments.

Teaching Activities:

Dr. Hart teaches an undergraduate Drugs & Behavior course (PSYC W2460) and an undergraduate Topics in Neurobiology & Behavior seminar (PSYC G4440) in the Department of Psychology. In addition, Dr. Hart and colleagues in the Division on Substance Abuse teach a graduate level Drugs & Society course (PH 8724) in the School of Public Health.

Training Opportunities:

Dr. Hart is a faculty member on Dr. Kleber’s NIDA-funded Substance Abuse Postdoctoral Fellowship grant and in the Columbia University/Hunter College Minority Students Summer Research Program. The research described above provides excellent training opportunities for applicants to the Fellowship and Summer Research programs.

Ksir C, Hart CL, Ray O (2006) Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior, 12th Edition. McGraw-Hill: New York

Recent Publications