Bridget Callaghan, PhD

Schermerhorn Hall
1190 Amsterdam Avenue, Room 209A
New York, NY 10027.
Phone: 212-851-0229

Research Summary

My Program of research seeks to understand how we can best support the emotional development of children, especially following conditions of early adversity. By integrating research on parental care, brain maturation, and brain-body interactions, across species (rats and humans), I hope to reveal mechanisms that underlie optimal development, and that can be leveraged in the treatment of children who are struggling emotionally. With generous support from the National Institutes of Mental Health Pathway to Independent Grant (NIMH K99/R00), and the Brain Behavior Research Foundation (NARSAD), I am examining how the hippocampus encodes memories across childhood and adolescence, and the relationship of hippocampal encoding to the emergence of anxiety disorders. In addition, I am examining how gastrointestinal bacteria, which is related to hippocampal development, influences human memory.

Select Publications
  1. Callaghan, B. L., & Fifer, W. (accepted). Perinatal attention, learning, and memory during sleep.
  2. Callaghan, B.L., Dandash, O., Simmons, J., Schwarts, O., Byrne, M. L., Sheeber, L., Allen, N.B., & Whittle, S. (In Press). Amygdala resting connectivity mediates the association between maternal aggression and major depressive disorder in adolescents, Journal of the American Academy for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
  3. Callaghan, B. L. (2017). Generational patterns of stress: Help from our microbes? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 323-329.
  4. Kan, J., Callaghan, B. L., & Richardson, R. (2016). A mother’s past can predict her offspring’s future: Previous maternal separation leads to the emergence of adult like fear behavior in subsequent infant rat offspring. Behavioral Neuroscience, 130, 511-520.
  5. Callaghan, L., Cowan, C1., & Richardson, R. (2016). Treating generational stress: Effect of paternal stress on development of memory and extinction in offspring is reversed by probiotic treatment. Psychological Science, 27, 1171-1180.
  6. Cowan, C., Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2016). The Effects of a Probiotic Formulation (Lactobacillus rhamnosus and L. helveticus) on Developmental Trajectories of Emotional Learning in Stressed Infant Rats. Translational Psychiatry, 6, e823.
  7. Cowan, C., Callaghan, B.L., Kan, J., & Richardson, R. (2016). The lasting impact of early-life adversity on individuals and their descendants: Potential mechanisms and hope for intervention. Genes, Brain, Behavior, 15, 155-168.
  8. Callaghan, B.L., & 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.
  9. Richardson, R., Cowan, C., Callaghan, B.L., Kan, J. (2016). Effects of early-life stress on fear memory in the developing rat. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 7, 15-20.
  10. Callaghan, B.L., & Tottenham, N. (2016). The neuro-environmental loop of plasticity: Developmental studies of rearing adversity on the human brain. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews, 41, 163-176.
  11. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2015). The development of fear and its inhibition: Knowledge gained from preclinical models. In K. Ressler, D. Pine, & B. O. Rothbaum (Eds.) Primer on anxiety disorders: Translational perspectives on diagnosis and treatment. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  12. Graham, B.M., Callaghan, B.L., Richardson, R. (2014). Bridging the gap: lessons we have learnt from the merging of psychology and psychiatry for the optimisation of treatments for emotional disorders. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 62, 3-16.
  13. Callaghan, B.L., Howell, B., Sullivan, R., & Tottenham, N. (2014). The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Sackler Symposium: Early adversity and the maturation of emotion circuits – a cross-species analysis. Developmental Psychobiology, 56, 1635-1650.
  14. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2014). Early emergence of adult-like fear extinction in the rat following chronic corticosterone treatment of mother or pups. Behavioral Neuroscience, 128, 594-602.
  15. Li, S., Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson (2014). Infantile amnesia: Forgotten, but not gone. Learning & Memory, 21, 135-139.
  16. Callaghan, B.L., Li, S., & Richardson, R. (2014). The elusive engram: What infantile amnesia can tell us about memory. Trends in Neurosciences, 37, 47-53.
  17. Callaghan, B.L., Graham, B.M., Li, S., & Richardson, R. (2013). From resilience to vulnerability: Mechanistic insights into the effects of stress on transitions in critical period plasticity. Frontiers in Molecular Psychiatry, 4, 1-15.
  18. Callaghan, B.L., Li, S.L., Kim, J.H., & Richardson, R. (2013). Preclinical analysis of developmental transitions in extinction of learned fear: From infancy through adolescence to adulthood. In D. Hermans, B. Rimé., & B. Mesquita (Eds.), Changing Emotions, pp. 81-88. Psychology Press.
  19. Cowan, C. S. M., Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2013). Acute early-life stress results in early emergence of adult-like fear retention and extinction relapse in infant rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125, 703-711.
  20. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2013). Early-life experiences and the development of emotional learning in rats. Development of Mood and Anxiety Disorders, 3, article 8.
  21. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2012). The effect of adverse rearing environments on persistent memories in young rats: Removing the brakes on infant fear memory. Translational Psychiatry, 2, e138.
  22. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2012). Early-life stress affects extinction during critical periods of development: An analysis of the effects of maternal-separation on extinction in adolescent rats. Stress, 15, 671-679.
  23. Callaghan, B.L., & Richardson, R. (2011). Maternal separation results in early emergence of adult-like fear and extinction learning in infant rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125, 20-28.

Calabria, B., Degenhardt, D., Briegleb, C., Vos, T., Hall, W., Lynskey, M., Callaghan, B.L., Rana, U. & McLaren, J. (2010). Systematic review of prospective studies investigating “remission” from amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine or opioid dependence. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 741-739.


National Institutes of Mental Health – K99-R00
Early Adversity and Human Microbiome-Hippocampal Development: Anxiety Associations
Role: PI

Neuropsychoanalysis Association Research Grant
Primary Maternal Preoccupation: Understanding the Role of Early Life Experiences on Learning and Memory in the Peri-Partum Period – Neural Moderators.
Role: PI

Brain Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator
Effects of early adversity on the development of multivoxel correlation structure in the human hippocampus: The biology of memory persistence in the developing brain and its relation to anxiety.
Role: PI

Heart Kids Australia – Grants In Aid
Parents Role in Reducing Neurobiological and Emotional Impacts of Medical Treatment for Heart Kids
Role: Co-PI

New York State Psychiatric Institute – Pilot Grant
Hippocampal Memory Consolidation Across Human Development: Multivoxel Pattern Persistence During Post Encoding Rest.
Role: PI