The research of the Tottenham 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 her laboratory is to characterize normative human brain development. They 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 of the lab is to characterize the effects of early-life stress on human brain development. To meet this aim, they 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.
Nim Tottenham, PhD is a Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Director of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. Her research examines brain development underlying emotional behavior in humans. Her research has highlighted fundamental changes in brain circuitry across development and the powerful role that early experiences, such as caregiving and stress, have on the construction of these circuits. She has authored over 80 journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally on human brain and emotional development. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and her scientific contributions have been recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) Award, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and the Developmental Science Early Career Researcher Prize.