Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D.

Nixon, DirectorCheck Out Dr. Nixon’s Podcast Episode

Contact Information

Dr. Sara Jo Nixon
Deptartment of Psychiatry
McKnight Brain Institute
University of Florida
P. O. Box 100258
Gainesville, FL 32610-0258
Phone: (352) 294-4920
Website: Department of Psychiatry Profile


Director, University of Florida Center for Addiction Research & Education

Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, College of Medicine, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Co-Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry

Director, University of Florida Neurocognitive Laboratory


Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, Department of Psychology; Postdoctoral Fellow (NIH-funded), Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Research Interests

Dr. Nixon uses neurobehavioral methods and models to examine the acute and chronic effects of alcohol and other drugs. Within her clinical research, her team also explores sex differences, the effects of age, and the import of ethnic/racial minority status.

Because of the complex nature of substance abuse, Dr. Nixon’s work uses comprehensive behavioral assessments including neuropsychological testing, brain electrophysiology (electroencephalography and event-related potentials), and clinical research interviews. In addition to neurobehavioral research, Dr. Nixon has sustained a strong interest in community outreach and education. Her continued commitment to community outreach is reflected in her on-going work focusing on the cognitive, psychological and social concomitants of substance use.

Recent Publications


  • Thompson, W.K., Barch, D., Bjork, J., Gonzalez, R., Nagel, B., Nixon, S.J., Luciana, M. (2018). The structure of cognition in 9 and 10 year-old children and associations with problem behaviors: findings from the ABCD study’s baseline neurocognitive battery. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
  • *Osborne, V., Striley, C., Nixon, S.J., Winterstein, A., Cottler, L.B. (2019). Sex differences in patterns of prescription opioid non-medical use among 10-18 year olds in the US for addictive behaviors. Addictive Behaviors 89, 163-171.
  • Lewis, B., *Garcia, C.C., Boissoneault, J., *Price, J.L., Nixon, S.J. (ePub 2018). Working memory performance following acute alcohol: Replication and extension of dose by age interactions. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
  • *Price, J.L., *Frazier, I.R., Lewis, B., Javors, M.A., Walker, R., Nixon, S.J., Adinoff, B. (2019). Differences in pituitary-adrenal reactivity in black and white men with and without alcohol use disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology 100, 180-189.
  • Boissoneault, J., Lewis, B., & Nixon, S.J. (2018). Characterizing chronic pain and alcohol use trajectory among treatment seeking alcoholics. Alcohol 75, 47-54.
  • *Lewis, B., *Garcia, C.C., Nixon, S.J. (2018). Drinking patterns and adherence to “low-risk” guidelines among community-residing older adults. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 187, 285-291.
  • Lisdahl, K.M., Sher, K., Conway, K.P., Gonzalez, R., Feldstein Ewing, S.W., Nixon, S.J., Bartsch, H., Goldstein, R.Z., Tapert, S., Heitzeg, M. (2018). Adolescent brain cognitive development (ABCD) study: Overview of substance use assessment methods. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 32, 80-96.
  • Luciana, M., Bjork, J., Nagel, B., Barch, D.M., Gonzales, R., Nixon, S.J., Banich, M. (2018). Adolescent neurocognitive development and impacts of substance use: Overview of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) baseline neurocognitive battery. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 32, 67-79.
  • *Price, J.L., *Lewis, B., Boissoneault, J., *Frazier, I.R., Nixon, S.J. (2018). Effects of acute alcohol and driving complexity in older and younger adults. Psychopharmacology, 235(3), 887-896. PMCID: PMC5823740
  • *Lewis, B., *Hoffman, L.A., *Garcia, C.C., & Nixon, S.J. (2018). Race and socioeconomic status in substance use progression and treatment entry. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 17(2), 150-166. PMID: 28846065
  • Stacpoole, P.W., Shuster, J., Thompson, J.L.P., Prather, R.A., Lawson, L.A., Zou, B., Buchsbaum, R., Nixon, S.J. (2018). Development of a novel observer reported outcome tool as the primary efficacy outcome measure for a rare disease randomized controlled trial. Mitochondrion 42, 59-63.
  • *Hoffman, L.A., *Lewis, B., & Nixon, S.J. (2017). Opioid misuse trends in treatment seeking populations: Revised prescription opioid policy and temporally corresponding shifts. Substance Use and Misuse 52(14), 1850-1858.
  • *Domenico, L.H., *Lewis, B., *Hazarika, M., & Nixon, S.J. (2017). Characterizing anxiety among individuals receiving treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association 24(4), 343-351. PMCID: PMC5930139
  • Case, K., Guo, Y., Nixon, S.J., Muller, K., Huo, T., Prather, R., Morris, H., Stoner, D., Shenkman, E. (2017). Exploring the role of executive functioning capacity in patient activation and health outcomes among Medicaid members with multiple comorbidities. Medical Care Research and Review. PMID: 29148345
  • *Lewis, B., *Boissoneault, J., *Frazier, I., & Nixon, S.J. (2016). Effects of age and acute moderate alcohol administration on electrophysiology during simulated driving. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 40(12), 2519-2527.
  • *Boissoneault, J., *Frazier, I., *Lewis, B., & Nixon, S.J. (2016). Effects of age and acute moderate alcohol administration on electrophysiological correlates of working memory maintenance. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 40(9),1874-1883. PMCID: PMC5009001
  • Chung, T., Noronha, A., Carroll, K. M., Potenza, M. N., Hutchison, K., Calhoun, V., Gabrieli, J., Morgenstern, J., Nixon, S. J., Wexler, B. E., Brewer, J., Ray, L., Filbey, F., Strauman, T. J., Kober, H., Feldstein Ewing, S. W. (2016). Brain mechanisms of change in addictions treatment: Models, methods, and emerging findings. Current Addiction Reports 3, 332-342.
  • *Boissoneault, J., *Lewis, B., & Nixon, S.J. (2016). Acute behavioral and long-term health effects of moderate alcohol use in older adults. Current Addiction Reports 3(1):62-74.
  • Shenkman, E., Muller, K., Vogel, B., Nixon, S.J., Wagenaar, A.C., Case, K., Guo, Y., Wegman, M., Aric, J., Stoner, D. (2015). The wellness incentives and navigation project: Design and methods. BMC Health Services Research, 15 (1), 579. PMID: 26714845
  • *Hoffman, L.A., & Nixon, S.J. (2015). Alcohol doesn’t always compromise cognitive function: Exploring moderate doses in young adults. Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs, 76 (6), 952-956. PMID: 26562604
  • *Hoffman, L. A., *Sklar, A. L., Nixon, S. J. (2015). The effects of acute alcohol on psychomotor, set-shifting and working memory performance in older men and women. Alcohol 49, 185-191. PMID: 25920000
  • *Lewis, B., *Hoffman, L.A., Nixon, S.J. (2014). Sex differences in drug use among polysubstance users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 145, 127-133. PMID: 25454410
  • *Boissoneault, J., *Sklar, A. Prather, R., Nixon, S. J. (2014). Acute effects of moderate alcohol on psychomotor, set shifting, and working memory function in older and younger social drinkers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 75, 870-879. PMID: 25208205
  • Squeglia, L. M., *Boissoneault, J., Van Skike, C. E., Nixon, S. J., Matthews, D. B. (2014). Age-related effects of alcohol from adolescent, adult, and aged populations using human and animal models. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 38(10), 2509-2516. PMID: 25156779

* Denotes student or mentee