Concordia University

Dr. Linda Booij , PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology

Office: L-AD 207 
Administration Building,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 5789
Website(s): CCRH

Research Interests

Numerous studies have shown that adverse exposures in utero or in the first years of life (e.g., malnutrition, 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, HDACs) and/or cognitive-behavioural assessments, and is funded by various sources, including CIHR, NSERC, NARSAD and QBIN. 

Topics of ongoing research projects include:
Impact of in utero exposure to environmental contaminants on brain development in children and associated epigenetic mechanisms  
- Impact of childhood trauma on histone deacetylases in adulthood.
DNA methylation and eating disorders
- Social-cognition and emotional processing in eating disorders
- Role of the in utero environment in brain development at the preschool age
- Gene-environment studies on brain and mental health, using twin designs


PhD (Leiden University, the Netherlands)

Teaching activities

Mood, Anxiety and Personality Disorders (psyc440)
Biological basis and treatment of psychopathology (psyc724)


Selected recent publications

Ismaylova, E., Di Sante, J., Gouin, J-P, Pomares, F.B., Vitaro, F., Tremblay, R.E., & Booij, L.(2018). Neural correlates of daily mood states in healthy adults. Paper submitted for publication to Frontiers Human Neuroscience, in press

Tozzi, L., Farrell, C., Booij, L., Doolin, K., Nemoda, Z., Szyf, M., Pomares, F.B., Chiarella, J., O’Keane, V., & Frodl, T. (2018). Epigenetic changes of FKBP5 as a link connecting genetic and environmental risk factors with structural and functional brain changes in major depression. Neuropsychopharmacology, 43(5), 1138-1145. Doi: 10.1038/npp.2017.290

Nuñez, N., Comai, S., Dumitrescu, E., Ghabrash, M., Tabaka, J., Saint-Laurent, M., Vida, S., Kolivakis, T., Fielding, A., Low, N., Cervantes, P., Booij, L., & Gobbi, G.(2018). Psychopathological and sociodemographic features in treatment-resistant unipolar depression cersus Bipolar I And II depression: A comparative Study. BMC Psychiatry, In press.

McIver, T., Bosma, R., Sandre, A., Goegan, S., Klassen, J., Chiarella, J., Booij, L., Craig, W. (2018). Peer Victimization is Associated with Altered Neural Response to Social Exclusion. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. In press.

Nguyen, T-V., Wu, M., Lew, J., Albaugh, M.D., Bittern, K.N., Hudziak, J.J., Fonov, V.S., Collins, D.L., Campbell, B.C., Booij, L., Herba, C., Monnier, P., Ducharme, S., McCracken, J.T. (2017). Dehydroepiandrosterone impacts working memory by shaping cortico-hippocampal structural covariance during development. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 110-121.

Sild, M., Ruthazer, E.S., Booij, L. (2017).  Major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders from the glial perspective: etiological mechanisms, intervention and monitoring. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 2017 Sep 14 [Epub ahead of print].

Tao, C.S., Dhamija, P., Booij, L., Menard, C. (2017). Adversity in early adolescence promotes an enduring anxious phenotype and increases serotonergic innervation of the infralimbic medial prefrontal cortex. Neuroscience, 364:15-27.

Ismaylova, E., Di Sante, J., Szyf, M., Nemoda, Z., Yu, W-J., Pomares, F., Turecki, G., Gobbi, G., Vitaro, F., Tremblay, R.E., Booij, L. (2017). Serotonin transporter gene methylation in peripheral cells in healthy adults: neural correlates and tissue specificity. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 27, 1032-1041.

Schumann, L., Boivin, M., Paquin, S., La Course, E., Brendgen, M., Vitaro, F., Dionne, G., Tremblay, R.E., Booij, L. (2017). Persistence and innovation effects in genetic and environmental factors in negative emotionality during infancy: A twin study. PlosOne. 12(4):e0176601.

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, 38, 2037-2050.

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. Trails Psychiatry, 6:e740.

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, doi: 10.1515/ijamh-2016-0006. [Epub ahead of print]

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.

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