Dr. Linda Booij , PhD
Associate Professor, Psychology
Numerous studies have shown that adverse exposures in utero or in the first years of life (e.g., emotional or physical abuse, harsh parenting) can lead to a variety of mental health difficulties later on. These difficulties include (but are not limited to) depression, impulsivity or eating disorders.
Early adverse exposures in utero or in the first years of life can affect the brain in many different ways; however, the neurotransmitter serotonin is of particular interest. That is because serotonin is (i) widely implicated in a variety of psychopathologies and (ii) important for brain development, especially during infancy or childhood (i.e., serotonin, in fact, helps to actually “build up the brain”). The overarching theme of our research program is that early adversity could disrupt the stability of certain brain chemicals (e.g., serotonin). This in turn influences the early development of brain regions involved in emotion regulation, and could predispose the individual to psychological problems later in life, particularly when exposed to subsequent stressful events. The studies we are conducting are done in clinical and non-clinical populations and use neuro-imaging (fMRI/PET), epigenetics (DNA methylation) and/or cognitive-behavioural assessments, and is funded by various sources, including CIHR and NARSAD.
Topics of ongoing research projects include:
- Epigenetic processes, brain function and (risk for) mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood.
- Social-cognition and emotional processing in eating disorders
PhD (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
Selected recent publications
Casey, K. F., Levesque, M. L., Szyf, M., Ismaylova, E., Verner, M. P., Suderman, M., ... & Booij, L. (2017). Birth weight discordance, DNA methylation, and cortical morphology of adolescent monozygotic twins. Human Brain Mapping.doi: 10.1002/hbm.23503. [Epub ahead of print]
Booij, L., Welfeld, K., Leyton, M., Dagher, A., Boileau, I., Sibon, I., Baker, G.B., Diksic, M., Soucy, J-P., Pruessner, J.C., Cawley – Fiset, E., Casey, K.F., Benkelfat, C.(2016). Dopamine cross-sensitization between psychostimulant drugs and stress in healthy male volunteers. Transl Psychiatry. Feb 23;6:e740. doi: 10.1038/tp.2016.6.
Roberts, N., Booij, L., Axas, N., & Repetti, L. (2016). Two-year prospective study of characteristics and outcome of adolescents referred to an adolescent urgent psychiatric clinic. International journal of adolescent medicine and health.
Khachatryan, D., Groll, D., Booij, L., Sepehry, A., Schütz, C.G. (2016). Prazosin for treating sleep disturbances in adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. General Hospital Psychiatry, 39, 46-52.
Mazza, J. R., Pingault, J. B., Booij, L., Boivin, M., Tremblay, R., Lambert, J., ... & Côté, S. (2016). Poverty and behavior problems during early childhood The mediating role of maternal depression symptoms and parenting. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 0165025416657615.
Chiarella, J., Tremblay, R.E., Szyf, M., Provençal, N., Booij, L.(2015). Impact of early environment on children's mental health: Lessons from DNA methylation studies with monozygotic twins. Twin Res Hum Genet. Dec 18:623-634.
Ghabrash, M.F., Comai, S., Tabaka, J., Saint-Laurent, M., Booij, L., Gobbi G. (2015). Valproate augmentation in a subgroup of patients with treatment-resistant unipolar depression. World J Biol Psychiatry. Oct 7:1-6.
Lévesque, M., Fahim, C., Ismaylova, E., Verner, MP., Casey, KF., Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., Dionne, G., Boivin, M., Tremblay, RE., Booij, L. (2015). The impact of the in utero and early postnatal environments on grey and white matter volume: A study with adolescent monozygotic twins. Developmental Neuroscience, 37(6):489-96
Booij, L., Tremblay, R.E., Szyf, M., Benkelfat, C. (2015). Genetic and early environmental influences on the serotonin system: Consequences for brain development and risk for psychopathology. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 40(1):5-18.
Booij, L., Casey, K.F., Mazanek-Antunes, J., Szyf, M., Israel, M., Steiger, H. (2015). DNA methylation in individuals with Anorexia Nervosa and in matched normal-eater controls: A genome-wide study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, doi: 10.1002/eat.22374.
Provençal, N., Booij, L., Tremblay, RE. (2015). The developmental origins of chronic physical aggression: Biological pathways triggered by early life adversity. Journal of Experimental Biology, 1; 218, 123-133.
Booij, L., Szyf, M., Carballedo, A., Frey, M., Morris, D., Dimov, S., Vaisheva, F., Ly, V., Fahey, C., Meaney, J., Gill, M., Frodl, T. (2015). DNA methylation of the serotonin transporter gene in peripheral cells and stress-related changes in hippocampal volume: a study in depressed patients and healthy controls. PlosOne, 17;10(3):e0119061.
Frodl, T., Szyf, M., Carballedo, A., Ly, V., Dimov, S., Vaisheva, F., Morris, D., Fahey, C., Meaney, J., Gill, M., Booij, L. (2015). DNA Methylation of serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) associates with insular cortex function involved in awareness for emotional stimuli. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 40(2): 140180.
Lévesque, M.L., Casey, K.F., Szyf, M., Ly, V., Ismaylova, L., Verner, M-P., Suderman, M., Brendgen, M., Vitaro, F., Boivin, M., Tremblay, R.E., Booij, L. (2014). Genome-wide DNA methylation variability in adolescent monozygotic twins followed since birth. Epigenetics. 9(10):1410-21.