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Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.

Matthew Wayne Johnson, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


Addiction Medicine, Drug Abuse Research, Drug Dependence

Research Interests

Human behavior change, especially in the context of addiction recovery; Behavioral economics of drug consumption and addiction; Delay discounting (the devaluation of future consequences) and addiction; Delay discounting and HIV sexual risk behavior; Drug administration studies in humans to characterize abuse liability, reinforcing effects, effects on decision making, and subjective effects; Therapeutic effects of the psychedelic compound psilocybin in the treatment of addiction, and in the treatment of cancer-related anxiety and depression; Psychopharmacology of psilocybin, salvinorin A, and other psychedelics/hallucinogens more



  • Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • Ph.D., University of Vermont (Vermont) (2004)
  • B.S., Eastern Oregon University (Oregon) (1999)

Additional Training

M.A., University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, 2007

Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007, Human Behavioral Pharmacology

Research & Publications

Research Summary

The underlying theme of my career has been to understand and facilitate human behavioral change, particularly behavioral change that is fundamental to addiction recovery. Toward that end, much of my research has applied behavioral economic concepts such as delay discounting to decision-making underlying drug addiction. My current research is applying these models to understand the high rates of sexual HIV risk behavior associated with certain abused drugs (e.g., cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol). Another focus of my research involves laboratory studies determining the behavioral and psychological effects of psychoactive drugs in humans, particularly novel or atypical drugs. This work has examined hallucinogens including psilocybin and salvinorin A (Salvia divinorum), stimulants including cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine, and caffeine, and various sedatives. Current research with psilocybin is examining its potential for facilitating behavior change. These studies include a trial determining the ability of psilocybin to increase engagement in a meditation program, a trial testing if psilocybin can decrease anxiety and depression in cancer patients, and a study examining psilocybin as an anti-addiction medication for tobacco smoking cessation. 

Watch a video interview with Dr. Johnson regarding the drug Salvia divinorum on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Johnson on CNN Wolf Blitzer.avi

Selected Publications

Johnson, M.W., Bruner, N.R (2012). The Sexual Discounting Task: HIV risk behavior and the discounting of delayed sexual rewards in cocaine dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 123, 15-21.

Johnson, M.W. (2012). An efficient operant choice procedure for assessing delay discounting in humans: Initial validation in cocaine-dependent and control individuals. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20, 191-204.

Johnson, M.W., MacLean, K.A., Reissig, C.J., Prisinzano, T.E., Griffiths, R.R. (2011). Human psychopharmacology and dose-effects of salvinorin A, a kappa-opioid agonist hallucinogen present in the plant Salvia divinorum. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 115, 150-5.

Johnson, M.W., Richards, W.A., Griffiths, R.R. (2008). Human hallucinogen research: Guidelines for safety. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 22, 603-620.

Johnson, M.W., Suess, P.E., Griffiths (2006). Ramelteon: A novel hypnotic lacking abuse liability and sedative adverse effects. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 1149-1157.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus
5510 Nathan Shock Drive
Behavioral Biology Research Center
Baltimore, MD 21224 map
Phone: 410-550-0056
Fax: 410-550-0030

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