Nim Tottenham

Nim Tottenham

Research Interests

Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2005

General Area of Research

Developmental Affective Neuroscience, Limbic-Cortical Development, Early-Life Stress

Current Research

The research of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Lab focuses on the development of neural circuits that underlie affective behaviors across childhood and adolescence, with a particular emphasis on limbic-cortical connections (e.g., amygdala-medial prefrontal cortex).

One major focus of our laboratory is to characterize normative human brain development. We use behavioral, physiological, and functional MRI methods with the aim of identifying sensitive periods during which the environment has the largest influence on neural phenotypes. 

A second major focus is to characterize the effects of early-life stress on human brain development. To meet this aim, we also study the neurodevelopment of children and adolescents who experienced various forms of early life stress (e.g., adverse caregiving) in the hopes of understanding the long-term effects of early adversity on human brain development. 

Relevant Publications

Vannucci, A., Fields, A., Bloom, P.A., Camacho, N.L., Choy, T., Durazi, A., Hadis, S.S., Harmon, C., Heleniak, C., VanTieghem, M., Dozier, M., Milham, M.P., Ghetti, S.*, & Tottenham, N.* (in press). Probing the content of affective semantic memory following early caregiving adversity. Developmental Science.

Abramson, L., Callaghan, B., Silvers, J. A., Choy, T., Van Tieghem, M., Vannucci, A., Fields, A., & Tottenham, N. (in press). The effects of parental presence on amygdala and mPFC activation during fear conditioning: An exploratory study. Developmental Science.

Heleniak, C., Goff, B., Gabard-Durnam, L. J., Telzer, E. H., Humphreys, K. L., Lumian, D. S., Flannery, J.E., Caldera, C., Shapiro, M., Louie, J.Y. and Shen, F., Vannucci, A., Jain, M., Glatt, C.E., & Tottenham, N. (2024). Telomere Erosion and Depressive Symptoms Across Development Following Institutional Care. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry63(3), 365-375.

Vannucci*, A., Fields*, A., Hansen EG, Katz A, Tachida A, Kerwin J, Martin N, & Tottenham, N. (2023). Interpersonal early adversity demonstrates dissimilarity from early socioeconomic disadvantage in the course of human brain development: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 105210.

Bloom, P.A., VanTieghem, M., Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G., Flannery, J., Caldera, C., Goff, B., Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L., Fareri, D.S., Shapiro, M., Algharazi, S., Bolger, N., Aly, M., & Tottenham, N. (2022). Age-related change in task-evoked amygdala—prefrontal circuitry: a multiverse approach with an accelerated longitudinal cohort aged 4-22 years. Human Brain Mapping, 43(10), 3221-3244.

GeeD.G., Hanson, C., Caglar, L.R., Fareri, D.S., Gabard-Durnam, L.G., Mills-Finnerty, C., Goff, B., CalderaC.J., Lumian, D.S., Flannery, J., HansonS.J., Tottenham, N. (2022). Experimental Evidence for a Child-to-Adolescent Switch in Human Amygdala-Prefrontal Cortex Communication: A Cross-Sectional Pilot Study. Developmental Science, 25(4), e13238

Fields, A., Bloom, P.A., VanTieghem, M., Harmon, C., Choy, T., Camacho, N., Gibson, L., Umbach, R., Heleniak, C., & Tottenham, N. (2021). Adaptation in the face of adversity: Decrements and enhancements in children’s cognitive control following early caregiving instability. Developmental Science, 24(6), e13133.

VanTieghem, M., Korom, M., Flannery, J., Choy, T., Caldera, C., Humphreys, K.L., Gabard-Durnam, L., Goff, B., Gee, D.G., Telzer, E.H., Shapiro, M., Louie, J.Y., Fareri, D.S., Bolger, N., & Tottenham, N. (2021). Longitudinal changes in amygdala, hippocampus and cortisol development following early caregiving adversity. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 48, 100916. PMC7854820.

Silvers, J.A., Callaghan, B.L., VanTieghem, M., Choy, T., O’Sullivan, K., & Tottenham, N. (2021). An Exploration of Amygdala-Prefrontal Mechanisms in the Intergenerational Transmission of Learned Fear. Developmental Science, 24 (3). PMC8168135

Tottenham, N. (2020). Neural Meaning Making, Prediction, and mPFC-Subcortical Development following Early Adverse Caregiving. Development and Psychopathology, 32, 1563-1578. PMC8168135

Tottenham, N. (2020). Early Adversity and the Neotenous Human Brain. Biological Psychiatry, 87, 350-358. PMC6935437

Tottenham, N., Shapiro, M., Caldera, C., Flannery, J., & Sullivan, R.M. (2019). Parental presence switches avoidance to attraction learning in children. Nature Human Behaviour, 3(10), 1070-1077.

Callaghan, B., Meyer, H., Opendak, M., VanTieghem, M., Harmon, C., Li, A., Lee, F., Sullivan, R., Tottenham, N. (2019). The developmental ecology of fear neurobiology across development. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 15, 345-369.

Callaghan, B., Gee, D.G., Gabard-Durnam, L., Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L., Goff, B., Shapiro, M., Flannery, J., Lumian, D.S., Fareri, D.S., Caldera, C. & Tottenham, N. (2019). Decreased amygdala reactivity to parent cues protects against anxiety following early adversity: an examination across 3-years. Biological Psychiatry: CNNI, 15, 345-369PMC6612442

Callaghan, B. & Tottenham, N. (2016). The Stress Acceleration Hypothesis: Effects of early-life adversity on emotion circuits and behavior. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 7, 76–81. PMC5890821

Callaghan, B. & Tottenham, N. (2016). The Neuro-Environmental Loop of Plasticity: A cross-species analysis of parental effects on emotion circuitry development following typical and adverse caregiving. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews, 41(1), 163-76. PMC4677125

Gee, D.G.*, Gabard-Durnam, L.*, Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L., Goff, B., Shapiro, M., Flannery, J., Lumian, D.S., Fareri, D.S., Caldera, C., & Tottenham, N. (2014). Maternal buffering of human amygdala–prefrontal circuitry during childhood. Psychological Science, 25(11), 2067-2078. PMC4377225

Courses Taught

Selected Publications

Reduced nucleus accumbens reactivity and adolescent depression following early-life stress

B Goff
DG Gee
EH Telzer
KL Humphreys
L Gabard-Durnam
J Flannery
N Tottenham

A Negativity bias for ambiguous facial expression valence during childhood: converging evidence from behavior and facial corrugator muscle responses

N Tottenham
J Phuong
J Flannery
L Gabard-Durnam
B Goff

Human amygdala development in the absence of species-expected caregiving

N Tottenham

Positive valence bias and parent–child relationship security moderate the association between early institutional caregiving and internalizing symptoms

Michelle R. Vantieghem
Laurel Gabard-Durnam
Bonnie Goff
Jessica Flannery
Kathryn L. Humphreys
Eva H. Telzer
Christina Caldera
Jennifer Y. Louie
Mor Shapiro
Niall Bolger
Nim Tottenham

Neurobiological programming of early life stress: Functional development of amygdala-prefrontal circuitry and vulnerability for stress-related psychopathology

Michelle R. VanTieghem
Nim Tottenham