Nicole Vittoz

Position: Instructor and Pathways Coordinator

Department: Psychology/Social Science

Faculty: Humanities and Social Sciences

Office: NW N3431

Office Phone: (604) 527-5336


Education and Credentials

  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Psychiatry, University of British Columbia
  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Wisconsin
  • Fulbright Scholar, Universities of Göttingen and Würzburg, Max-Planck Institutes, Germany
  • B.Sc., Biopsychology and Cognitive Science, Highest Distinction, High Honours, University of Michigan

Academic and Professional Profile

After years as a full-time researcher on topics related to cognition, mental illness and addiction, Nicole realized at some point that the best days at her job were the days when she was training and mentoring students in the laboratory. She came to understand that teaching may be truly enjoyable and fulfilling as a career. Upon completion of her postdoctoral fellowship at UBC, Nicole became the director of an interdisciplinary training program in the area of gender and addiction, and also began teaching courses at local postsecondary institutions. In 2012 she had the good fortune of joining the Psychology/Social Science faculty at Douglas College. She continues to dabble in research projects on decision making and memory as an honours student supervisor, and has enjoyed contributing to the institution through service on college committees and as department chair.

Teaching Concentrations

Methodology, Biopsychology, Psychopharmacology


  • PSYC 1100 Introductory Psychology
  • PSYC 2300 Introduction to Data Analysis
  • PSYC 3315 Neuropsychology
  • PSYC 3341 Drugs and Behaviour

Research Activities

Nicole has a long-standing interest in the neural underpinnings of decision making. Recent research projects addressed biological factors that impact cognitive bias, and focus on themes such as rationality vs. emotionality and risk/impulsivity in decision making. She is interested in the contribution of these factors to sub-optimal decision making in various practical arenas, for example, when and how to start studying for an exam, political alignment, drug addiction, or the level of risk to which one exposes a financial institution.

Open to Supervising Honours Students for 2021-22: YES

Professional Affiliations and Community Service

2016 - 2018, Editorial Board Member, Visions Community Mental Health Journal, BCMHA

2011 - 2019, Board Member, Kaleidoscope Mental Health Support Society

Hobbies and Interests

Music (playing clarinet), indoor rock climbing, yoga, cuddling cats

Selected Refereed Publications:

Durstewitz D.*, Vittoz N.*, Floresco S.B., Seamans J.K. (2010) Abrupt transitions between prefrontal neural ensemble states accompany behavioral transitions during rule learning. Neuron, 66, 438–448. *These authors contributed equally to the work.

Borgland S.L., Chang S-J., Bowers M.S., Thompson J., Vittoz N., Floresco S., Chou J., Chen B.T., Bonci A. (2009) Orexin A/Hypocretin-1 selectively promotes motivation for positive reinforcers. Journal of Neuroscience, 29(36), 11215-25.

Vittoz N.M., Schmeichel B., Berridge C.W. (2008) Hypocretin/orexin preferentially activates caudomedial ventral tegmental area dopamine neurons. European Journal of Neuroscience, 28(8), 1629-1640.

Vittoz N.M., Berridge C.W. (2006) Hypocretin/Orexin Selectively Increases Dopamine Efflux within the Prefrontal Cortex: Involvement of the Ventral Tegmental Area. Neuropsychopharmacology, 31(2), 384-395.

Day H.E.W., Vittoz N.M., Oates M.M., Badiani A., Watson, S.J., Jr., Robinson T.E., Akil H. (2002) A 6-Hydroxydopamine lesion of the mesostriatal dopamine system decreases the expression of corticotropin releasing hormone and neurotensin mRNAs in the amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Brain Research, 945(2), 151-159.

Day, H.E.W., Badiani, A., Uslaner, J.M., Oates, M.M., Vittoz, N.M., Robinson, T.E., Watson, S.J., Jr., Akil, H. (2001) Environmental novelty differentially affects amphetamine-induced c-fos mRNA expression in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 21(2), 732-740.


Berridge C.W., España R.A., Vittoz N.M. (2010) Hypocretin/Orexin in Arousal and Stress. Brain Research, 1314, 91-102.

Book Chapters:

Boyle, E, Snow, ME, Vittoz.N. (2015). Fostering transdisciplinarity in research training. In Greaves, Poole, Boyle (eds). Transforming addiction: gender, trauma, transdisciplinarity. NewYork: Routledge International.

Selected Conference Presentations:

Vittoz, N., & Dare, V.. (2017) Peer Review for Writing Assignments in Introductory Psychology. International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Vancouver, BC.

Talarczyk, C., Vittoz, N., & Efimoff, I. (2017) The Value of Undergraduate Teaching Service Work to Prospective Graduate Students. International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Vancouver, BC.

Barber, C. & Vittoz, N. (2016) Eyes on the Prize: Patterns of Risk and Resiliency in High School Dropout. Connecting Minds Undergraduate Conference in Psychology., Richmond, BC.

Draymon, M. & Vittoz, N. (2016) Lie to me, Lie to yourself: Dark Triad Traits, Dishonesty, and False Memory. Northwest Cognition and Memory Conference, Vancouver, BC.

Vittoz, N.M., Efimoff, I., & Saeedi, S. (2015) Exercising Rationality: Effects of caffeine and exercise on economic decision making. Society for Judgement and Decision Making, Chicago, IL, USA.

Vittoz, N.M. (2013) Peer Review using Blackboard 9 – Online, Anonymous, Calibrated. International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Vancouver, BC.

Vittoz, N.M. (2012) This is your blog on drugs: Ideas for painless writing assignments in large neuroscience courses. Canadian Association of Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC.

Wisniewski, T.N., Vittoz N.M. (2011) Privacy in the Age of Social Networks: The Effects of Priming on Willingness to Disclose Personal Information. Connecting Minds Undergraduate Research Conference, Richmond, BC.

Vittoz, N.M. (chair), Benoit, C., Krank, M., Young, R. (2010) Intersectionalities in women's mental health and addictions: Applying innovative and mixed methodologies in research. Women's Mental Health Conference: Building Research Networks and Capacity, Toronto, ON. Oct 1.

Vittoz, N.M., Sullivan, K., Torchalla, I., Rostam, H., Brache, K., Greaves, L. (2009) IMPART: Mental Health Perspectives in Addictions Research Training (Poster no. 71). Into the Light Conference: Transforming Mental Health in Canada, Vancouver, BC. Nov 29 - Dec 1.

Vittoz N.M., Seamans, J., Floresco, S.B. (2008) Neural correlates of effort-based decision making in medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.

Vittoz N.M., Floresco, S.B., Seamans, J. (2007) Cellular correlates of set-shifting in rat medial prefrontal cortex. Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.