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Gordon A. Barr, PhD
Gordon A. Barr
James Battaglia Endowed Chair in Pediatric Pain Management

Dr. Barr's research focuses on transitions as important developmental epochs during which there are substantial changes in how infants/children/adolescents process information. He studies mechanisms of stress, pain, and recovery from damage to the nervous system from a developmental perspective.



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Dr. Barr focuses on the role of the environment in normal development. Clinically, one important stressor for hospitalized human infants is pain, but when starting this work, little was known of how it was processed in the infant. One of the discoveries by Dr. Barr's Lab is that the major factor in the switch from attachment to aversion in infants following a noxious stimulus is the activation of dopamine function in the amygdala.

Education and Training

BA, Dickinson College (Psychology), 1969

MA, Carnegie Mellon University, 1971

PhD, Carnegie Mellon University (Psychology), 1975

Postdoctoral Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, (Neuropharmacology)

Titles and Academic Titles

James Battaglia Endowed Chair in Pediatric Pain Management

Director, Section of Acute and Chronic Pain Medicine

Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine

Graduate Group Affiliations, Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Perelman School of Medicine

Professional Memberships

International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (Past President, 2008-2009)

Society for Neuroscience

Annual Winter Conference on Issues in Developmental Psychobiology (Co-organizer, 1995-present)

Professional Awards

National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation Pre- and Postdoctoral Fellowships

Rosenbaum award for Research by a Fellow, First Prize, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Shuster Faculty Fellowship

Career Development Award, (K02), National Institute on Drug Abuse

Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship/Creativity, Hunter College, CUNY

Publication Highlights

Gomes CI, Barr GA. Local injury and systemic infection in infants alter later nociception and pain affect during early life and adulthood. Brain, Behavior & Immunity – Health. 2020 Dec; doi:10.1016/j.bbih.2020.100175
Sperry MM, Kandel BM, Wehrli S, Bass K, Das SR, Dhillon PS, Gee JC, Barr GA. Mapping of pain circuitry in early post-natal development using manganese-enhanced MRI in rats. Neuroscience. 2017 Jun; 352:180-189. PMID: 28391012
Rincon-Cortes M, Barr GA, Mouly AM, Shionoya K, Nunez BS, Sullivan RM. Enduring good memories of infant trauma: Rescue of adult neurobehavioral deficits via amygdala serotonin and corticosterone interaction. Proct Nal Acad Sci USA. 2015 Jan; 112(3):881-886. PMID: 4311810
Barr GA, Moriceau S, Shionoya K, Muzny K, Gao P, Wang S, and Sullivan RM. Transitions in infant learning are modulated by dopamine in the amygdala. Nat Neurosci. 2009 Nov; 12(11):1367-1369. PMID: 19783994
Zhu, H, Barr GA. Opiate withdrawal during development: are NMDA receptors indispensable?. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2001 Aug; 22(8):404-408. PMID: 11479002

Links of Interest

A Molecule of Motivation, Dopamine Excels at Its Task Published Oct. 26, 2009 in The New York Times

Abuse and Attachment Published March 1, 2010 in Scientific American

Mom’s Love Eases Infant’s Pain, Changes Gene Activity in the Baby Brain

Published Nov. 18, 2014 in Healthline

Attracted to Punishment Published Sept. 28, 2009 in NatureAsia

Mothers Comforting Babies in Pain Actually Changes the Gene Activity in Infants’ Brains Published Nov. 18, 2014 in The Washington Post

A Surprising Way You Can Help Ease Baby's Pain Published Nov. 20, 2014 in Parents

Mummy Can Kiss it Better – No Really She Can! Published Nov. 21, 2014 in The Oxford Scientist Magazine

Study Shows a Mother’s Love Can Relieve Infant’s Pain Published 2014 in International Association of Infant Massage

Rats Learn to Be Once Bitten, Twice Shy Published Sept. 28, 2009 in NewScientist

Summary: Transitions in Infant Learning Are Modulated by Dopamine in the Amygdala Published Sept. 27, 2009 in Asia Research News

Transitions in Infant Learning Are Modulated by Dopamine in the Amygdala

Published November 2009 in Faculty Opinions

Sous le microscope Published April 4, 2015 in Vosges matin (French)

Боль не мешает малышам слепо любить родителей Published Sept. 28, 2009 in Infox Ru (Russian)

Dopamine Excels as Molecule of Motivation Published Nov. 1, 2009 in Edmonton Journal

La Présence de sa Mére Soulage la Douler d'un Bébé Published Nov. 21, 2014 in BFM TV

Changes in Brain Chemicals Mark Shifts in Infant Learning Published Oct. 28, 2009 in ScienceDaily

Mom's Presence Changes Genes in Infant Brain Published Nov. 27, 2014 in The Visible Embryo