Steele Lab

The Steele Lab combines transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and neuroimaging research techniques with the goal of developing novel treatments for substance use disorders (SUDs).

Current studies involve targeting dysregulated circuits in SUD with TMS to elicit neuroplastic change and identify malleable circuits that, with chronic treatment, could lead to positive long-term outcomes treating SUDs. Acute and chronic neuroplasticity is assessed with both electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). 

Click here to participate in the studies at Steele Lab.

Steele Lab Director

Vaughn R Steele, PhD

Steele Lab
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry,
Yale University School of Medicine

Team Members

Patrick Fang

Clinical Reseach Assistant

Patrick graduated in 2022 from the University of Southern California with B.A.s in Psychology as well as Law, History, Culture. He joined the Steele Lab in the summer of 2022, and is eager for the opportunity to address substance use disorders in the community as well as gain research experience in anticipation of a future potential Clinical Psychology PhD. In his free time, Patrick enjoys gaming, cooking, working out, playing recreational sports, and spending time with his cats.


Dongyu Kang

Clinical Reseach Assistant

Dongyu earned his Master's degree from Central South University in psychiatry and mental health in 2020 and is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychiatry, Second Xiangya Hospital. He joined the Steele Lab in the spring of 2023 as visiting scholar and is eager to expand his knowledge of neuroimaging and electrophysiology data analysis. He is also passionate about developing non-invasive neuromodulation treatment in individuals with psychotic disorders. During his spare time, he likes working out, cooking, reading, and listening to music.


Kira Gresser

Clinical Reseach Assistant

Kira earned her B.A. in Psychology with minors in Education and Communications from Villanova University in 2021. She joined the Steele Lab in 2022 in hopes of making an impact on her community, as well as, gaining more knowledge and hands-on experience in the field of psychological research. She plans on pursing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in the near future. In her free time, Kira likes to go to the beach, read, try new ice cream shops, and spend time with friends, family, and her dogs.


Cecelia Petrarca

Clinical Reseach Assistant I

Cecelia earned her BS in Biobehavioral Health with a minor in Psychology from Penn State University in May 2023. In January 2024, she joined both the AMFM and Steele Lab to work on the “Modulating Temporoparietal Junction Mentalizing-Related Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorder using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation” study. She is eager to gain valuable research experience in this position, and plans to either pursue a PhD in Neuroscience or attend Physician Assistant school in the future. In her free time, Cecelia loves listening to music, traveling, reading, and spending time with her friends. 



Current Research Projects

Testing malleability of executive control processes measured with event-related potentials in a sample prescribed methadone for opiate use disorder

This study uses EEG to compare excitatory and sham rTMS in an OUD sample targeting automatic and control processes that are known to be dysregulated. Assessing the malleability of these measures is essential to uncovering a mechanistic understanding of applying rTMS in OUD samples as a treatment. This work has the potential to open doors to testing the efficacy of chronic rTMS to reduce substance use in a large clinical trial. To participate click here.

Circuit-based Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Opiate Dependent Individuals

This study uses fMRI and TMS to explore on whether excitatory or inhibitory sequences of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) induces neuroplastic change in individuals with Opiate Use Disorder or OUD. Results could inform future studies of each rTMS sequence as a treatment for OUD. [Funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation]. To participate click here.

Modulation of Circuits in an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) sample

This study uses fMRI and TMS to explore how intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) induces neuroplastic change in individuals with OUD. Results could inform future studies of iTBS as a treatment for OUD. [Funded by NIH/NIDA and HHC]. To participate click here.

Modulating Temporoparietal Junction Mentalizing-Related Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorder using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

A core characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a deficit in mentalizing (our ability to create mental representations of others), which we have identified an underlying neural network with our pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging data. This proposal is a robust investigation into modulating this network with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sequences to uncover the optimal method to target and modulate the mentalizing network activity in ASD. Validating this neural mechanism in ASD is a necessary first step toward assessing the effectiveness of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in modulating social behaviors in this group in future clinical studies.To participate click here.

Can Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Decrease Food Reinforcement among Surgical Weight Loss-Seeking Adults who have High Levels of Hedonic Hunger and Responsivity to Food Cues?

This study examines whether rTMS can reduce the reinforcing value of a palatable food among patients seeking bariatric surgery who have high levels of hedonic hunger. We also measure the acute rTMS-induced modulation of brain reward processing with electroencephalography (EEG). If rTMS-related changes in food reinforcement is supported, it could translate into healthier eating patterns and improved surgical outcomes. To participate click here.

Neuroplastic Change Induced by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This study examines whether TMS can modulate activity in executive functioning circuits in the brains of healthy people as well as those with opioid use disorder (OUD) in order to assess the potential of these circuits as targets for treatment of OUD with TMS. [Funded by NIH/NIDA and HHC] . To participate click here.

Assessing Task Performance During Treatment

This study uses behavioral tasks that may help predict substance use behaviors such as relapse. Findings will provide evidence whether these measures could help identify individuals at risk to relapse. [Funded by HHC and NIH/NIDA]. To participate click here.

Recent Publications


Kang, T., Zhang, Y., Jiang, H., Xie, R., Zhao, J., Steele, V. R., Ding, X., & Yuan, T-F. (in press). Characterizing impulsivity in heroin use disorder. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

Bond, D. S., Papasavas, P. K., Raynor, H. A., Grilo, C. M. & Steele, V. R. (in press). Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Reducing the Relative Reinforcing Value of Food in Adult Patients with Obesity Pursuing Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: Protocol for A Within-Participants Sham-Controlled Pilot Trial. JMIR Research Protocols.


Johnstone S., Sorkhou M., Al-Saghir N., Lowe Darby J. E., Steele V. R., Pearlson G. D., Castle D. J., George T. P. (2022). Neuromodulation to Treat Substance Use Disorders in People With Schizophrenia and Other Psychoses: A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Psychiatry: 13,

Ekhtiari, H., Zare-Bidoky, M., Sangchooli, A., Janes, A., Kaufman, M., Oliver, J., Prisciandaro, J., Wüstenberg, T., Anton, R., Bach, P., Baldacchino, A., Beck, A., Biorks, J., Brewer, J., Childress, A., Claus, E., Courtney, K., Ebrahimi, M., Filbey, F., Ghahremani, D., Ghobadi-Azbari, P., Goldstein, R., Goudrian, A., Grodin, E., Hamilton, P, Hanlon, C., Abharian, P., Heinz, A., Joseph, J., Kiefer, F., Khojasteh Zonoozi, A., Kober, H., Kuplicki, R., Li, Q., London, E., McClernon, J., Noori, H., Owens, M., Paulus, M., Perini, I., Potenza, M., Potvin, S., Ray, L., Schacht, J., Seo, D., Sinha, R., Smolka, M., Spanagel, R., Steele, V. R., Stein, E. A., Loeber, S., Tapert, S., Verdejo-Garcia, A., Vollstaedt-Klein, S., Wetherill, R., Wilson, S., Witkiewitz, K., Yuan, K., Zhang, X., and Zilverstand, A. (2022). A Methodological Checklist for fMRI Drug Cue Reactivity Studies: A Consensus Statement. Nature Protocols, 17, 567-595.


Steele, V. R. (2021). A Circuit-Based Approach to Treating Substance Use Disorders With Noninvasive Brain Stimulation. Biological Psychiatry, 89(10), 944–946.

Steele, V. R., & Maxwell, A. M. (2021). Treating cocaine and opioid use disorder with transcranial magnetic stimulation: A path forward. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 209, 173240.

Montry, K. M., Simmonite, M., Steele, V. R., Brook, M. A., Kiehl, K. A., & Kosson, D. S. (2021). Phonological processing in psychopathic offenders. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 168, 43–51.


Steele, V. R. (2020). Transcranial magnetic stimulation as an interventional tool for addiction. Frontiers in Neuroscience: Neural Technologies, 14, 592343

Steele, V. R. (2020). Transcranial magnetic stimulation and addiction: Toward uncovering known unknowns. EBioMedicine, 57, 102839

Lee, M. R., Caparelli, E. C., Leff, M., Steele, V. R., Maxwell, A. M., McCullough, K., & Salmeron, B. J. (2020). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation delivered with an H-coil to the right insula reduces functional connectivity between insula and medial prefrontal cortex. Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface, 23(3), 384-392.


Maurer, J. M., Steele, V. R., Vincent, G. M., Rao, V., Calhoun, V. D., & Kiehl, K. A. (2019). Adolescent psychopathic traits negatively related to hemodynamic activity within the basal ganglia during error-related processing. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47(12), 1917-1929.

Steele, V. R., Maxwell, A. M., Ross, T. J., Stein, E. A., & Salmeron, B. J. (2019). Accelerated intermittent theta-burst stimulation as a treatment for cocaine use disorder: A proof-of-concept study. Frontiers in Neuroscience: Neural Technologies, 13, 1147.

Liu, Y., van den Wildenberg, W. P. M., de Graaf, Y., Ames, S. L., Baldacchino, A., Bø, R., Cadaveira, F., Campanella, S., Christiansen, P., Claus, E. D., Colzato, L. S., Filbey, F. M., Foxe, J. F., Garavan, H., Hendershot, C. S., Hester, R., Jester, J. R., Karoly, H. C., Kräplin, A., Kreusch, F., Landrø, N. I., Littel, M., Steins-Loeber, S., London, E. D., López-Caneda, E., Lubman, D. I., Luijten, M., Marczinski, C. A., Metrik, J., Montgomery, C., Papachristou, H., Park, S. M., Paz, A. L., Petit, G., Prisciandaro, J. J., Quednow, B. B., Ray, L. A., Roberts, C. A., Roberts, G. M. P., de Ruiter, M. B., Rupp, C. I., Steele, V. R., Sun, D., Takagi, M., Tapert, S. F., van Holst, R. J., Verdejo-Garcia, A., Vonmoos, M., Wojnar, M., Yao, Y., Yücel, M., Zack, M., Zucker, R. A., Huizenga, H. M., & Wiers, R. W. (2019). Is (poly-) substance use associated with impaired inhibitory control? A mega-analysis controlling for confounders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 105, 288-304.

Ekhtiari, H., Tavakoli, H., Addolorato, G., Baeken, C., Bonci, A., Campanella, S., Castelo-Branco, L., Challet-Bouju, G., Clark, V. P., Claus, E. D., Dannon, P. N., Del Felice, A., den Uyl, T., Diana, M., di Giannantonio, M., Fedota, J. R., Fitzgerald, P., Gallimberti, L., Grall-Bronnec, M., Herremans, S. C., Herrmann, M. J., Jamil, A., Khedr, E., Kouimtsidis, C., Kozak, K., Krupitsky, E., Lamm, C., Lechner, W. V., Madeo, G., Malmir, N., Martinotti, G., McDonald, W., Montemitro, C., Nakamura-Palacios, E., Nasehi, M., Noël, X., Nosratabadi, M., Paulus, M., Pettorruso, M., Pradhan, B., Praharaj, S. K., Rafferty, H., Sahlem, G., Salmeron, B. J., Sauvaget, A., Schluter, R. S., Sergiou, C., Shahbabaie, A., Sheffer, C., Spagnolo, P. A., Steele, V. R., Yuan, T-F., van Dongen, J., Van Waes, V., Venkatasubramanian, G., Verdejo-García, A., Verveer, I., Welsh, J., Wesley, M. J., Witkiewitz, K., Yavari, F., Zarrindast, M-R., Zawertailo, L., Zhang, X., Cha, Y-H., George, T. P., Frohlich, F., Goudriaan, A. E., Fecteau, S., Daughters, S., Stein, E. A., Fregni, F., Nitsche, M. A., Zangen, A., Bikson, M., Hanlon, C. A. (2019). Transcranial electrical and magnetic stimulation (tES and TMS) for addiction medicine: A consensus paper on the present state of the science and the road ahead. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 104, 118-140.

*For a full list of publications, see Google Scholar. Email Dr. Steele or the Steele Lab to request PDFs. 


Edward M. Bernat, PhD University of Maryland
Dale Bond Hartford Hospital
Godfrey Pearlson, MD 
Personnel Website

Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Yale University School of Medicine

Michal Asaaf, MD Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Departments of Psychiatry, Yale University
Michael C. Stevens, PhD Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center
Departments of Psychiatry, Yale University
Sarah W. Yip, PhD, MSc Departments of Psychiatry, Yale University
Hedy Kober Departments of Psychiatry, Yale University

Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center

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