Dr. Linda Booij , PhD
Associate Professor and Concordia University Research Chair in Eating Disorders, Psychology
FRQS Chercheur Boursier Senior
Co-Director, Centre for Clinical Research in Health (CCRH)
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 and 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.
- Brain development and eating disorders
- DNA methylation and eating disorders
- Social-cognition and emotional-cognitive processing in eating disorders
- Impact of childhood trauma on histone deacetylases in adulthood.
- Gene-environment studies on brain and mental health, using twin designs
PhD (Leiden University, the Netherlands)