Krista M. Lisdahl

Associate Professor
 (414) 229-7159
 Garland Hall 238C

Lab Page:


Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 2005

Key Areas of Interest

Healthy Adolescent and Emerging Adult Brain Development

Neuroscience of Addiction and Drug Effects

Imaging Genetics

Effects of Exercise, Physical Activity and Adiposity on Brain Health

Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Krista Lisdahl is the Director of the UWM’s Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology (BraIN) Laboratory.  The primary focus of her research is on the neurocognitive consequences of chronic drug use during adolescence and emerging adulthood and predictors of substance use onset in youth. More specifically, using magnetic resonance imaging (structural MRI, fMRI and DTI) and neuropsychological assessment, Dr. Lisdahl’s laboratory examines the effects of chronic marijuana, alcohol, nicotine and ecstasy use on brain structure and function.  We also attempt to explain individual differences by examining whether genetics, gender or lifestyle factors such as aerobic exercise, physical activity, or adiposity (body fat distribution) moderate these effects. Dr. Lisdahl is a PI or Consultant on three large-scale multi-site neuroimaging studies examining the impact of substance use on the developing adolescent or young adult brain [the MTA Neuroimaging Study; the IDEAA Consortium; the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study – see below].  She is also the Chair of Women in Neuropsychology ( Subcommittee within the APA Society for Clinical Neuropsychology.

Current projects within the BraIN Lab include: (1) Dr. Lisdahl is the Substance Use Assessment Co-Chair and UWM Site for the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study; this landmark study will follow 10,000 youth for 10 years to determine factors that impact adolescent brain, cognitive and affective development ( UWM is recruiting approximately 450 children from Milwaukee/Waukesha counties; (2) Dr. Lisdahl is the PI on a NIDA-funded 7 year R01 project examining whether physical activity levels or cardiorespiratory health moderate the effects of marijuana use on frontolimbic connectivity in teens; (3) Dr. Lisdahl is the co-creator and site-PI for the NIDA-funded Imaging Data in Emerging Adults with Addiction (IDEAA) consortium- which includes Drs. Staci Gruber (Harvard/McLean Hospital), Susan Tapert (UCSD), and Francesca Filbey (UT-Dallas); (4) Dr. Lisdahl was the PI on a NIDA-funded R03 project examining the neurocognitive effects of marijuana, ecstasy and binge drinking in emerging adults (in data-analysis); (5) The UWM BraIN Lab collaborated with Dr. Ann Swartz to understand how standing desks impact activity levels, postural stability, cognition and classroom behavior in 100 school-aged children.

Incoming Graduate Students: Students will also get exposed to working on multi-site, multi-PI large-scale neuroimaging projects (e.g., ABCD Study, IDEAA Consortium) and will be mentored on grant writing and reviewing. The BraIN Laboratory trains Clinical Neuropsychology doctoral and postdoctoral students in neuroscience/neuropsychology-related fields for clinical-science and academic positions. Dr. Lisdahl utilizes a junior colleague mentoring model. Students are provided developmental/stepped levels of supervision as they work towards independent research careers. Graduate students are expected to publish articles in peer-reviewed journals (first-author and co-authored) and disseminate their findings at poster and paper presentations at national and international conferences. Dr. Lisdahl’s teaching is focused on neuropsychology, psychopharmacology, research methods, and clinical assessment.

Selected Publications

Lisdahl, K. M., Wright, N. E., Kirchner-Medina, C., Maple, K. E., & Shollenbarger, S. (2014, June). <i>Considering Cannabis</i>: The Effects of Regular Cannabis Use on Neurocognition in Adolescents and Young Adults. Current addiction reports, 1(2), 144-156.
Tamm, L., Epstein, J. N., Lisdahl, K. M., Molina, B., Tapert, S., Hinshaw, S. P., Arnold, L. E., Velanova, K., Abikoff, H., & Swanson, J. M. (2013, December). Impact of ADHD and cannabis use on executive functioning in young adults. Drug and alcohol dependence, 133(2), 607-14.
Lisdahl, K. M., Thayer, R., Squeglia, L. M., McQueeny, T. M., & Tapert, S. F. (2013, January (1st Quarter/Winter)). Recent binge drinking predicts smaller cerebellar volumes in adolescents. Psychiatry research, 211(1), 17-23.
Lisdahl, K. M., Gilbart, E. R., Wright, N. E., & Shollenbarger, S. (2013, January (1st Quarter/Winter)). Dare to delay? The impacts of adolescent alcohol and marijuana use onset on cognition, brain structure, and function. Frontiers in psychiatry, 4, 53.
Lisdahl, K. M., & Price, J. S. (2012, July (3rd Quarter/Summer)). Increased marijuana use and gender predict poorer cognitive functioning in adolescents and emerging adults. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 18(4), 678-88.
Lisdahl, K. M., & (2011). Chapter 3: Chronic effects of heavy alcohol and marijuana use on the brain and cognition in adolescents and young adults. College Drinking and Drug Use. New York: Guilford Press.
McQueeny, T., Padula, C. B., Price, J., Lisdahl, K. M., Logan, P., & Tapert, S. F. (2011, October (4th Quarter/Autumn)). Gender effects on amygdala morphometry in adolescent marijuana users. Behavioural brain research, 224(1), 128-34.
Lisdahl, K. L., Nagel, B. J., & Tapert, S. F. (2010, May). Abnormal cerebellar morphometry in abstinent adolescent marijuana users. Psychiatry research, 182(2), 152-9.
Schweinsburg, A., Schweinsburg, B., Lisdahl, K. L., McQueeny, T., Brown, S., & Tapert, S. (2010). The influence of recency of use on fMRI response during spatial working memory in adolescent marijuana users. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 42(3), 401-12.
Hanson, K., Lisdahl, K. L., Nagel, B., Spadoni, A., Gorlick, A., & Tapert, S. (2010). Hippocampal volumes in adolescents with and without a family history of alcoholism. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse,, 36, 161-167.
Hanson, K., Winward, J., Schweinsburg, A., Lisdahl, K. L., Brown, S., & Tapert, S. (2010). Longitudinal study of cognition among adolescent marijuana users over three weeks of abstinence. Addictive Behaviors., 35(11), 970-976.
Lisdahl, K. M., Nagel, B., & Tapert, S. (2010). Cerebellar vermis abnormality in adolescent marijuana users. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 182(2), 152-159.
Cohen-Zion, M., Drummond, S. P., Padula, C. B., Winward, J., Kanady, J., Lisdahl, K. L., & Tapert, S. F. (2009, November). Sleep architecture in adolescent marijuana and alcohol users during acute and extended abstinence. Addictive behaviors, 34(11), 976-9.
Lisdahl, K. L., McQueeny, T., Nagel, B. J., Hanson, K. L., Yang, T. T., & Tapert, S. F. (2009, September). Prefrontal cortex morphometry in abstinent adolescent marijuana users: subtle gender effects. Addiction biology, 14(4), 457-68.
Lisdahl, K. L., McQueeny, T., Nagel, B. J., Hanson, K. L., Schweinsburg, A. D., & Tapert, S. F. (2008, March). Prefrontal cortex volumes in adolescents with alcohol use disorders: unique gender effects. Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research, 32(3), 386-94.
Lisdahl, K. L., Hanson, K. L., Schweinsburg, A. D., Cohen-Zion, M., Nagel, B. J., & Tapert, S. F. (2007, September). Neuropsychological functioning in adolescent marijuana users: subtle deficits detectable after a month of abstinence. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 13(5), 807-20.
Lisdahl, K. L., Nagel, B. J., Park, A., McQueeny, T., & Tapert, S. F. (2007, June). Depressive symptoms in adolescents: associations with white matter volume and marijuana use. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines, 48(6), 592-600.
Lisdahl, K. L., & Shear, P. K. (2007, March). Anxiety, depression, and behavioral symptoms of executive dysfunction in ecstasy users: contributions of polydrug use. Drug and alcohol dependence, 87(2-3), 303-11.
Lisdahl, K. L., Shear, P. K., & Corcoran, K. (2005, October (4th Quarter/Autumn)). Ecstasy (MDMA) exposure and neuropsychological functioning: a polydrug perspective. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society : JINS, 11(6), 753-65.