Collaborators Key papers Teaching Google Scholar page



Alexandre Dombrovski, MD

pitt_logo_blueAssistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh

dombrovskia at


Work on late-life suicide

Our lab uses behavioral experiments and neuroimaging to understand decision processes leading to suicidal behavior. We work with older adults who have attempted suicide. Suicide, especially in old age, is often viewed as a strategic, rational decision. In contrast, we argue that the suicidal crisis often escalates unexpectedly. Catastrophic choices follow a failure to consider present experiences in the context of prior knowledge and values.


Collaborators at Pitt

Kati Szanto, Greg Siegle, Howard Aizenstein, Henry Chase, Michael Hallquist, Meryl Butters, and Charles F. Reynolds, 3rd


External collaborators

Luke Clark (Univ. of Cambridge)


Post-doctoral fellow

Polina Vanyukov


Suicide decision lab staff

Natalie Truty, Jan Kalkus, Modhurima Moitra, Mandy Collier


Key papers


Learning: finding the best choices by trial and error

Dombrovski, A.Y., Clark, L., Siegle, G.J., Butters, M., Ichikawa, N., Sahakian, B., Szanto, K., Reward/Punishment Reversal Learning in Older Suicide Attempters. Am J Psychiatry. 2010: appi.ajp.2009.09030407. Free full text

Dombrovski AY*, Szanto K., Clark L, Reynolds 3rd CF, Siegle, GJ. Reward signals, impulsivity, and attempted suicide in late-life depression. JAMA Psychiatry, 2013; 70(10):1020-103. Free full text Author material



Value-based decisions: one-shot choices

Clark L, Dombrovski AY, Siegle GJ, Butters MA, Shollenberger C, Sahakian BJ, Szanto K. in press. Impairment in risk-sensitive decision-making in older suicide attempters. Psychology and Aging. Free full text

Dombrovski AY, Szanto K, Siegle GJ, Wallace ML, Forman SD, Sahakian B, Reynolds CF, Clark L. (2011) Lethal Forethought: Delayed Reward Discounting Differentiates High- and Low-Lethality Suicide Attempts in Old Age. Biological Psychiatry. Free full text

Dombrovski AY, Siegle GJ, Szanto K, Clark L, Reynolds CF, Aizenstein H. The temptation of suicide: striatal gray matter, discounting of delayed rewards, and suicide attempts in late-life depression. Psychol Med. 2011 Oct 17:1-13. PubMed Free full text Full Text



Cognitive control: representing the goals and structure of the task

Dombrovski AY, Butters MA, Reynolds CF, Houck PR, Clark L, Mazumdar S, Szanto K. Cognitive performance in suicidal depressed elderly: preliminary report. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 16(2): 109-115. Free full text

Gujral S, Dombrovski AY*, Butters M, Clark L, Reynolds 3rd CF, Szanto K. Impaired Executive Function in Contemplated and Attempted Suicide in Late Life. American Journal of Geriatric Psych, in press. PubMed


Social decisions

Szanto K, Clark L, Hallquist M, Vanyukov P, Crockett M, Dombrovski AY. The cost of social punishment and high-lethality suicide attempts in the second half of life. Psychology and Aging, in press




Late-life suicide, pharmacotherapy of late-life depression, and psychiatric phenomenology.