Bradley Peterson MD

Bradley Peterson, MD

Chief, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Co-Director, Behavioral Health Institute
Attending Physician
Chief, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Psychiatry, Keck School of Medicine of USC
Professor of Pediatrics with Tenure, Keck School of Medicine of USC

Bradley S. Peterson, MD, the chief of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and co-director of the Behavioral Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, joined CHLA in July 2014. He also was the inaugural director of the hospital’s Institute for the Developing Mind. Previously, he served for 13 years at Columbia University, where he was director of the Center for Developmental Neuropsychiatry. Before that, he spent 12 years at Yale University, where he served as Director of Neuroimaging at the Yale Child Study Center.

Peterson’s vast experience as a scientist, physician, teacher and mentor provides the Institute with the transformative leadership necessary to establish a comprehensive program of interdisciplinary research, education, training and clinical services for childhood neurodevelopmental problems at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  His research has used brain-imaging technologies to understand the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders, and to map the complex pathways between the genetic and environmental influences that can trigger their onset or progression. A physician in the Division of Research on Children, Youth and Families within the Department of Pediatrics at CHLA, Peterson also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC), where he is director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

He has published hundreds of papers and received numerous awards for his work in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders. Specific disease processes that he studies include autism, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, nonverbal learning disabilities, premature birth and the effects of environmental toxins on brain development.

Dr. Peterson earned his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison School of Medicine in 1987. He then completed a residency in general psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1990, a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral research fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center in 1992, and a clinical fellowship in child psychiatry at Yale in 1994.

He also trained in adult and child psychoanalysis at Yale and Columbia from 1996-2008. He stayed at the Yale Child Study Center as a faculty member until 2001, where he was awarded a named professorship in 1996 and where he served as director of Neuroimaging. In 2001, he moved to Columbia University, where he was founding director of their MRI research program.

He was appointed full professor with tenure in 2005, served as the director of the Division of Child Psychiatry from 2008 to 2012, and subsequently directed the Center for Developmental Neuropsychiatry.



National Boards in Neurology and Psychiatry, National Boards in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


Goh S, Dong Z, Zhang Y, Liu J, DiMauro S, Peterson BS. Mitochondrial dysfunction as a neurobiological subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from brain imaging. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(6):665-671, 2014. PMID:24718932 

Plessen KJ, Hugdahl K, Bansal R, Hao X, Peterson BS. Sex, age, and cognitive correlates of asymmetries in thickness of the cortical mantle across the life span. J Neurosci, 34(18):6294- 6302, 2014. PMID: 24790200 

Horga G, Schatz K, Abi-Dargham A, Peterson BS. Deficits in predictive coding underlie hallucinations in schizophrenia. J Neurosci, 34(24):8072-8082, 2014. PMID: 24920613 

Bansal R, Staib LH, Laine AF, Houbold A, Xu D, Liu J, Weissman MM, Peterson BS. Brain images alone can diagnose chronic neuropsychiatric illnesses. PLoS ONE, 7:e50698, 2012. PMID:23236384 Posner J, Hellerstein D, Gat I, Mechling A, Klahr KW, Wang Z, McGrath P, Stewart J, Peterson BS. Antidepressants normalize the default mode network in patients with dysthymia. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 6:1- 10, 2013. PMID:23389382 

Margolis A, Bansal R, Hao X, Algermissen M, Erickson C, Klahr KW, Naglieri JA, Peterson BS. Using IQ discrepancy scores to examine the neural correlates of specific cognitive abilities. J Neuroscience, 33(35):14135- 45, 2013. PMID:23986248 

Peterson BS, Wang Z, Horga G, Warner V, Liu J, Rutherford B, Klahr KW, Graniello B, Wickramaratne P, Garcia F, Yu S, Hao X, Adams PB, Qian M, Liu J, Gerber A, Weissman MM. Discriminating risk and resilience endophenotypes from markers of lifetime illness in familial major depressive disorder. JAMA Psychiatry, 25:1-13, 2013. PMID: 24369340 

Wang Z, Maia T, Marsh R, Colibazzi T, Gerber A, Peterson BS. The neural circuits that generate tics in Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. Am J Psychiatry, 168:1326-1337, 2011. PMID:21955933 Rauh VA, Horton M, Perera F, Whyatt R, Bansai R, Hao X, Liu J, Slotkin TA, Peterson BS. Abnormalities of brain structure in children exposed prenatally to chlorpyrifos, a common organophosphate insecticide. PNAS, 109:7871-7876, 2012. PMID:22547821

Peterson BS, Warner V, Bansal R, Zhu H, Hao X, Liu J, Durkin K, Adams PB, Wickramaratne P, Weissman MM. Cortical thinning in persons at increased familial risk for major depression. PNAS, 106:6273-6278, 2009. PMCID: PMC2669378

Sowell ER, Thompson PM, Welcome SE, Henkenius AL, Toga AW, Peterson BS. Cortical abnormalities in children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Lancet, 362:1699-1707, 2003. PMID:14643117

Blumberg HP, Kaufman J, Martin A, Whiteman R, Gore JC, Charney DS, Krystal JH, Peterson BS. Amygdala and hippocampus volumes in adolescents and adults with Bipolar Disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 60:1201-1208, 2003. PMID:14662552

Peterson BS, Vohr B, Staib L, Cannistracci C, Dolberg A, Schneider K, Katz K, Westerveld M, Sparrow S, Anderson A, Duncan C, Makuch R, Gore J, Ment L. Regional brain volume abnormalities and long-term cognitive outcome in preterm infants. JAMA, 284:1939-1947, 2000. PMID:11035890

Peterson BS, Rauh VA, Bansal R, Hao X, Toth Z, Semanek D, Nati G, Walsh K, Arias F, Perera F. Effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants on development of brain white matter, cognition, and behavior in later childhood. In press.


Dr. Peterson's research uses brain imaging technologies to understand the origins of neuropsychiatric disorders by mapping the constitutional and environmental influences that confer risk for illness or protect against it, trigger its onset or progression, compensate for its presence, or mediate effective treatments. Visit the Brain Imaging Lab.

Research Studies

This study aims to determine which of two gold standard treatments, Medication or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or their combination, is most effective when treating anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. 

We want to learn more about how cancer treatment, such as immunotherapy (i.e., CAR T cell treatment), affects the brain, learning, and behavior in patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

The overall objective is to assess the influences that repeated head impact accelerative events (both impact and nonimpact) and concussions have on high school athletes as measured by brain structure and function, cognition, and behavior.


ScienceNewsNet - Researchers Conduct First-of-Its-Kind Review of Anesthesia Exposure’s Impact on Childhood Brain Development

Brain Tomorrow - Medication, Therapy, or Both? Study Reveals the Most Effective ADHD Treatments

KNBC - Children's Hospital LA Receives $6.1 Million for Children's Anxiety Study

Science Daily – Two Windows into the Brain: New study on autism reveals changes in blood flow to the brain’s white matter

KPCC- Pollution near preschools is impacting nearly 10,000 LA County kids 

Nature — Brain food: Clever eating 

Medical News Today - Genetics and environment impact familial depression 

Science Daily- Low Maternal Iron Impacts Brain Tissue

Science World Report- Autism Spectrum Disorder: Processing Facial Expressions Difficult for Patients

Daily Mirror — Mum’s fury as Photographer Offers to Airbrush School Picture of Daughter Aged 8

Science Daily- Reduced conflict-related brain activity may indicate risk for psychosis

New York Times- Tell It About Your Mother

Huffington Post- A No Brainer: Strengthen Air Quality Standards Now 

US News & World Report — Scientists Discover More Clues to Stuttering

BBC - Spider Phobia Brain Processes Unconscious Fear

Yahoo Finance – Depression Study by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Investigators is First to Determine In Vivo Evidence for Compensatory Neuroplasticity in Humans

U.S. News & World Report — What Parents Should Know About the Push to Detect Autism Earlier 

Huffington Post - Scientists Have Found A Strikingly Effective Way To Help You Get Over Your Phobias 

U.S. News & World Report - Mom's Immune System May Affect Baby's Brain

ResearCHLA Blog:

Effects of Anesthesia on the Fetal Brain

Prenatal Maternal Iron Intake Shown to Affect the Neonatal Brain

Processing Facial Emotions in Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Conflict-Related Brain Activity May Indicate Psychosis Risk

Rare, Genetic and Multisystemic - How should we approach and study Johanson-Blizzard Syndrome?

Putting Their Heads Together

Prenatal Exposure to Common Air Pollutants Linked to Cognitive and Behavioral Impairment