Erika E. Forbes, PhD

  • Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Pediatrics, and Clinical and Translational Science

Administrative Assistant: Amanda Trujillo

Erika Forbes, PhD, earned an AB Magna cum Laude from Harvard University and a PhD in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed a clinical psychology internship and a postdoctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus on the developmental and affective neuroscience of depression. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and has received awards including the Eva King Killam Award for Early Career Contributions to Translational Neuroscience from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and the Young Investigator and Independent Investigator Awards from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

Dr. Forbes’s research focuses on the role of neural reward circuitry on the development of depression and related problems during adolescence. Her seminal finding was that adolescents with depression exhibit disrupted function in reward circuitry, with the implicated region of the striatum associated with lower levels of positive affect experienced in daily life.  She has also investigated the typical development of reward circuitry, the role of reward circuitry in substance use, the contributions of sleep disturbance to reward circuitry and depression, and the role of social context in brain development and depression. She is the recipient of federal and foundation grants, has published over 150 peer-reviewed papers, and has an h index of 52.

Dr. Forbes’s is a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and her clinical interests are adolescent depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Education & Training

  • AB, History and Literature, magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1991
  • PhD, Clinical and Developmental Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 2003
  • Internship in Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 2002-2003
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Pittsburgh, 2003-2005

Selected Publications

Vilgis V, Rhoads SA, Weissman DG, Gelardi KL, Forbes EE, Hipwell AE, Keenan K, Hastings PD, Guyer AE. Direct replication of task-dependent neural activation patterns during sadness introspection in two independent adolescent samples. Hum Brain Mapp. 2020 Feb 15;41(3):739-754.

Sequeira SL, Butterfield RD, Silk JS, Forbes EE, Ladouceur CD. Neural activation to parental praise interacts with social context to predict adolescent depressive symptoms. Front Behav Neurosci. 2019 Sep 25;13:222. 

Eckstrand KL, Flores LE Jr, Cross M, Silk JS, Allen NB, Healey KL, Marshal MP, Forbes EE. Social and non-social reward processing and depressive symptoms among sexual minority adolescents. Front Behav Neurosci. 2019 Sep 13;13:209. 

Woods BK, Forbes EE, Sheeber LB, Allen NB, Silk JS, Jones NP, Morgan JK. Positive affect between close friends: Brain-behavior associations during adolescence. Soc Neurosci. 2019 Oct 3:1.

Rosen D, Price RB, Ladouceur CD, Siegle GJ, Hutchinson E, Nelson EE, Stroud LR, Forbes EE, Ryan ND, Dahl RE, Silk JS. Attention to Peer Feedback Through the Eyes of Adolescents with a History of Anxiety and Healthy Adolescents. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev. 2019 Dec;50(6):894-906. 

Edmiston EK, Fournier JC, Chase HW, Bertocci MA, Greenberg T, Aslam HA, Lockovich J, Graur S, Bebko G, Forbes EE, Stiffler R, Phillips ML. Assessing Relationships Among Impulsive Sensation Seeking, Reward Circuitry Activity, and Risk for Psychopathology: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Replication and Extension Study. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. In press.

Dotterer HL, Waller R, Shaw DS, Plass J, Brang D, Forbes EE, Hyde LW. Antisocial behavior with callous-unemotional traits is associated with widespread disruptions to white matter structural connectivity among low-income, urban males. Neuroimage Clin. In press.

Gard AM, Maxwell AM, Shaw DS, Mitchell C, Brooks-Gunn J, McLanahan SS, Forbes EE, Monk CS, Hyde LW. Beyond family-level adversities: Exploring the developmental timing of neighborhood disadvantage effects on the brain. Dev Sci. In press.

Alarcón G, Morgan JK, Allen NB, Sheeber L, Silk JS, Forbes EE. Nucleus accumbens functional connectivity in response to a friend’s positive affect mediates adolescent gender differences in real-world social behavior. Dev Cogn Neurosci. In press.

Beeney JE, Forbes EE, Hipwell AE, Nance M, Mattia A, Lawless JM, Banihashemi L, Stepp SN. Determining the key childhood and adolescent risk factors for future BPD using regularized regression: Comparison to depression and conduct disorder. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. In press.

Eckstrand KL, Forbes EE, Bertocci MA, Chase HW, Greenberg T, Lockovich J, Stiffler R, Aslam HA, Graur S, Bebko G, Phillips ML. Anhedonia reduction and the association between left ventral striatal reward response and 6-month improvement in life satisfaction among young adults. JAMA Psychiatry. In press.

Research Grants

NIH R21MH117400, Theta Burst Stimulation of Frontostriatal Reward Circuitry in Young Adults with Depression (PI, 12% effort), 2018-2020, $283,226.

NIH R01MH104418, Development of Anhedonia in High-Risk Adolescents (PI, 20% effort), 2015-2020, $3,411,844.

NIH R01MH103230, Cognitive Inflexibility and Phenotypic Heterogeneity in Anorexia Nervosa (MPI, 20%), 2014-2019 (NCE), $511,531 (current year).

NIH R25MH090947, Research Career Development Institute for Psychiatry (MPI, 4%), 2011-2016 and 2016-2021 (PI in 2016), $160,966.

NIH R01MH118312, Longitudinal Study of Sleep Duration, Reward, and Cognitive Control Circuits, and Vulnerability for Depression and Suicidal Ideation during Adolescence (Co-I, 10% effort, PI: P. Frazen), 2020-2025, $731,917 (current year).

NIH R01MH114875, Biological Systems Underlying the Impact of Potential Threat on Cognitive Control in Mood Disorders (Co-I, 10% effort, PI: N. Jones), 2018-2023, $731,076 (current fiscal year).

NIH R01MH113777, Brain-Behavior Synchrony in Very Young Children and Their Depressed Mothers (Co-I, 10% effort, PI: J. Morgan), 2015-2020, $422,431 (current year, direct costs).

NIH R01MH103241, Influence of Social Threat on Reward Function in At-Risk Adolescent Girls (Co-I, 10% effort, MPI: J. Silk and C. Ladoceur), 2015-2020, $2,345,568.

NIH R01MH100041, Reward, Pathophysiologic Dimensions, and Psychological Distress in Young Adults (Co-I, 4% effort, PI: M. Phillips), 2014-2019 (NCE), $470,306 (current year, direct costs).