Skip to main content

Mihaela D. Iordanova, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology

Mihaela D. Iordanova, PhD


Overview: My research interests focus on understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms that guide learning about the world around us.  My work has sought to answer questions pertaining to two distinct yet integrative learning processes:  How does the brain learn to make predictions about the future? How does the brain update erroneous predictions? What is the nature of this learning? 

My approach to the study of brain and behaviour is to combine well-controlled behavioural designs informed by formalized theories of learning and causal (chemogenetic, optogenetic and neuropharmacological methods) and correlational (high-density neuronal recording) neuroscience techniques.

Funding: Our research is supported by
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR Project Grant)
Canada Research Chair Tier 2
NSERC Discovery Grant
Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation (NARSAD New Investigator Award)
FRQNT Nouveau Chercheur
Canadian Foundation for Innovation
Concordia University Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowships


Peer-reviewed Publications

Lay BPP, Pitaru A, Boulianne N, Esber GR, Iordanova MD (in press) Different methods of fear reduction are supported by distinct cortical substrates. eLife accepted June 2020; bioRxiv doi:

Lay BPP, Frate M, Lozzi M, Esber GR, Iordanova MD (in press) Female rats take longer than male rats to update reward expectancies when outcomes are worse than expectedBehavioral Neuroscience accepted June 2020

Reverte I, Volz S, Alhazmi FH,Kang M, Kaufman K, Chan S, Jou C, Iordanova MD, Esber GR. (2020) A self-initiated cue-reward learning procedure for neural recording in rodents. J Neurosci Methods. 2020;338:108671. doi:10.1016/j.jneumeth.2020.108671

Maes EJP, Sharpe MJ, Usypchuk A, Lozzi M, Gardner MPH, Chang CY, Schoenbaum G, Iordanova MD (2020) Causal evidence supporting the proposal that dopamine transients function as temporal difference prediction errors. Nature Neuroscience, 23(2):176-178. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0574-1. Epub 2020 Jan 20.  Initially posted to bioRxiv doi:

Iordanova MD (2019) Dopamine signalling is critical for supporting cue-driven behavioral control. Neuroscience, 412:257-258. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 17.

Mahmud A, Petrov P, Esber G, Iordanova MD (2019) The serial blocking effect: A tesbed for temporal difference reinforcement learning. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 5962, doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42244-4

Iordanova MD (2018) Thought control with the dopamine transient. Learn Behav [Epub before print]. [PubMed] [DOI]

Lay BPP, Nicolosi M, Usypchuk AA, Esber GR, Iordanova MD (2018) Dissociation of appetitive overexpectation and extinction in the infralimbic cortex. Cereb Cortex [Epub before print]. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Deroche ML, Esber GR, Schoenbaum G (2016) Neural correlates of two different types of extinction learning in the amygdala central nucleus. Nat Commun 7:12330. [PubMed] [DOI]

Schoenbaum G, Esber GR, Iordanova MD (2013) Dopamine signals mimic reward prediction errors. Nat Neurosci 16:777-779. [PubMed] [DOI]

Honey RC, Iordanova MD, Good M (2014) Associative structures in animal learning: dissociating elemental and configural processes. Neurobiol Learn Mem 108:96-103. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Haralambous T, McNally GP, Westbrook RF (2013) Accumbal opioid receptors modulate cue competition in one-trial overshadowing. Brain Res 1517:57-67. [PubMed] [DOI]

Albasser MM, Amin E, Lin TC, Iordanova MD, Aggleton JP (2012) Evidence that the rat hippocampus has contrasting roles in object recognition memory and object recency memory. Behav Neurosci 126:659-669. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Honey RC (2012) Generalization of contextual fear as a function of familiarity: the role of within- and between-context associations. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 38:315-321. [PubMed] [DOI]

Albasser MM, Amin E, Iordanova MD, Brown MW, Pearce JM, Aggleton JP (2011) Perirhinal cortex lesions uncover subsidiary systems in the rat for the detection of novel and familiar objects. Eur J Neurosci 34:331-342. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Good M, Honey RC (2011) Retrieval-mediated learning involving episodes requires synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. J Neurosci 31:7156-7162. [PubMed] [DOI]

Albasser MM, Amin E, Iordanova MD, Brown MW, Pearce JM, Aggleton JP (2011) Separate but interacting recognition memory systems for different senses: the role of the rat perirhinal cortex. Learn Mem 18:435-443. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Burnett DJ, Good M, Honey RC (2011) Pattern memory involves both elemental and configural processes: evidence from the effects of hippocampal lesions. Behav Neurosci 125:567-577. [PubMed] [DOI]

Albasser MM, Chapman RJ, Amin E, Iordanova MD, Vann SD, Aggleton JP (2010) New behavioral protocols to extend our knowledge of rodent object recognition memory. Learn Mem 17:407-419. [PubMed][DOI]

Horne MR, Iordanova MD, Pearce JM (2010) Spatial learning based on boundaries in rats is hippocampus-dependent and prone to overshadowing. Behav Neurosci 124:623-632. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD (2010) Dopamine transmission in the amygdala modulates surprise in an aversive blocking paradigm. Behav Neurosci 124:780-788. [PubMed] [DOI]

Dwyer DM, Iordanova MD (2010) The amygdala and flavour preference conditioning: Crossed lesions and inactivation. Physiol Behav 101:403-412. [PubMed] [DOI]

Horne MR, Iordanova MD, Albasser MM, Aggleton JP, Honey RC, Pearce JM (2010) Lesions of the perirhinal cortex do not impair integration of visual and geometric information in rats. Behav Neurosci 124:311-320. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD (2009) Dopaminergic modulation of appetitive and aversive predictive learning. Rev Neurosci 20:383-404. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Burnett DJ, Aggleton JP, Good M, Honey RC (2009) The role of the hippocampus in mnemonic integration and retrieval: complementary evidence from lesion and inactivation studies. Eur J Neurosci 30:2177-2189. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Good MA, Honey RC (2008) Configural learning without reinforcement: integrated memories for correlates of what, where, and when. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 61:1785-1792. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Killcross AS, Honey RC (2007) Role of the medial prefrontal cortex in acquired distinctiveness and equivalence of cues. Behav Neurosci 121:1431-1436. [PubMed] [DOI]

Moalem-Taylor G, Allbutt HN, Iordanova MD, Tracey DJ (2007) Pain hypersensitivity in rats with experimental autoimmune neuritis, an animal model of human inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy. Brain Behav Immun 21:699-710. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, McNally GP, Westbrook RF (2006) Opioid receptors in the nucleus accumbens regulate attentional learning in the blocking paradigm. J Neurosci 26:4036-4045. [PubMed] [DOI]

Iordanova MD, Westbrook RF, Killcross AS (2006) Dopamine activity in the nucleus accumbens modulates blocking in fear conditioning. Eur J Neurosci 24:3265-3270. [PubMed] [DOI]

Westbrook RF, Iordanova M, McNally G, Richardson R, Harris JA (2002) Reinstatement of fear to an extinguished conditioned stimulus: two roles for context. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 28:97-110. [PubMed] [DOI]

Book Chapters

Honey RC, Iordanova MD, Good M (2009) Latent inhibition and habituation: evaluation of an associative analysis. pp163-182. In R.E. Lubow & I. Weiner (Eds.), Latent Inhibition: Cognition, Neuroscience and Applications to Schizophrenia.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Mihaela Iordanova completed her undergraduate studies at the University of New South Wales where she was awarded a Bachelor’s degree with Honors in Psychology in 2001.  She conducted her doctoral studies on the role of the accumbal opioid and dopamine transmission in error-correction in the fear setting at the same institution under the guidance of R. Frederick Westbrook.  As part of her doctoral research Mihaela visited the laboratory of Simon Killcross at Cardiff University where she embarked on research examining the role of dopamine in predicting fear.  Following completion of her PhD in 2006, Mihaela sought post-doctoral training back in the learning theory hub that is the School of Psychology at Cardiff University.  There she worked with prominent scientists including Rob Honey and Mark Good on the neurocircuitry of mnemonic integration and updating, and forged strong collaborations with John Pearce, John Aggleton, and Dominic Dwyer.  Her desire to study how the neurons change their pattern of firing as a result of environmental stimulation took her across the Atlantic to the laboratory of Geoffrey Schoenbaum. While holding appointments at University of Maryland and at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, she examined how cells in the central nucleus of the amygdala modulate their firing under conditions when fewer than expected rewards are delivered.  Mihaela was awarded a prestigious Pathways to Independence (K99/R00) award from the National Institutes of Health to conduct this work.  In 2014 Mihaela was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology where she joins the Centre for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology.

Took 1 milliseconds
Back to top

© Concordia University