Associate Professor of Psychology
Columbia University

Schermerhorn Hall
1190 Amsterdam Avenue, Room 233D
New York, NY 10027

Faculty Profile

Lab website

Research Summary

Our program of research examines the development of the human amygdala and its connections with cortical regions. I have examined this question both behaviorally and at the neurobiological level both in typical developmental samples and following early life stress (e.g., adverse caregiving). With support from the NIMH BRAINS R01, I have examined the developmental construction of limbic-cortical connections and associated emotional behaviors during childhood and adolescence, conducting large, longitudinal and cross-sectional studies on emotion perception in children with and without a history of early life stress.

Select Publications
  1. Gee, D.G.*, Gabard-Durnam, L.*, Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L., Goff, B., Shapiro, M., Flannery, J., Lumian, D.S., Fareri, D.S., Caldera, C., & Tottenham, N. (in press). Maternal buffering of human amygdala–prefrontal circuitry during childhood. Psychological Science.
  2. Goff, B. & Tottenham, N. (in press). Early-life adversity and adolescent depression: Mechanisms involving the ventral striatum. CNS Spectrums.
  3. Johnson, A.J., & Tottenham, N. (in press). Regulatory Skill as a Resilience Factor for Adults with a History of Foster Care: A Pilot Study. Developmental Psychobiology.
  4. Callaghan, B.L., Sullivan, R.M., Howell, B., Tottenham, N. (in press). The International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Sackler Symposium: Early adversity and the maturation of emotion circuits – a cross-species analysis. Developmental Psychobiology.
  5. Gabard-Durnam, L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., Gee, D.G., Humphreys, K.L., Telzer, E.H., Hare, T.A., & Tottenham, N. (in press). The development of human amygdala functional connectivity at rest from 4 to 23 Years: a cross-sectional study. Neuroimage.
  6. Dreyfuss, M., Caudle, K., Drysdale, A.T., Johnston, N.E., Cohen, A.O., Somerville, L.H., Galván, A., Tottenham, N., Hare, T.A., Casey, B.J. (in press). Teens Impulsively React Rather than Retreat from Threat. Developmental Neuroscience.
  7. Tottenham, N. (2014). The Importance of Early Environments for Neuro-Affective Development. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, 16, 109-129. PMC4021037
  8. Gee, D.G., Gabard-Durnam, L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., Humphreys, K.L., Telzer, E.H., Hare, T.A., Bookheimer, S.Y., Tottenham, N. (2013). Early Developmental Emergence of Human Amygdala-PFC Connectivity after Maternal Deprivation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(39):15638-15643. PMC3785723
  9. Malter-Cohen, M., Jing, D., Yang, R.R., Lee*, F.S., Tottenham*, N., & Casey*, BJ. (2013). Early life stress has persistent effects on amygdala function and development in mice and humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(45), 18274-8. (*equal contributions) PMC3831447
  10. Olsavsky, A., Telzer, E.H., Shapiro, M., Humphreys, K.L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., & Tottenham, N. (2013). Indiscriminate amygdala response to mothers and strangers following early maternal deprivation. Biological Psychiatry, 74(11):853-860. PMC3818506
  11. Tottenham, N., Hertzig, M.E., Gillespie-Lynch, K., Gilhooly, T., Millner, A., & Casey, BJ. (2014). Elevated amygdala response to faces and gaze aversion in autism spectrum disorder. Social Cognitive, & Affective Neuroscience, 9(1), 106-117. PMC3871735
  12. Green, S., Rudie, J.D., Colich, N., Wood, J.J., Shirinyan, D., Hernandex, L., Tottenham, N., Dapretto, M., & Bookheimer, S.Y. (2013). Over-Reactive Brain Responses to Sensory Stimuli in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 52 (11), 1158-1172.
  13. Telzer, E.H., Flannery, J., Shapiro, M., Humphreys, K., Goff, B., Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G., & Tottenham, N. (2013). Early experience shapes amygdala sensitivity to race: An international adoption design. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(33) 13484-8. PMC3742934
  14. Gee, D.G., Humphreys, K.L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., Telzer, E.H., Shapiro, M., Hare, T.A., Bookheimer, S.Y., Tottenham, N. (2013). A Developmental Shift from Positive to Negative Connectivity in Human Amygdala-Prefrontal Circuitry. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(10)4584-4593. PMC3670947
  15. Goff, B. Gee, D.G., Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K.L., Gabard-Durnam, L., Flannery, J., Tottenham, N. (2013). Reduced nucleus accumbens reactivity and adolescent depression following early-life stress. Neuroscience, 249, 129-138. PMC3646076
  16. Malter-Cohen, M. Tottenham, N., & Casey, BJ (2013). Translational studies of stress on brain and behavior: Implications for adolescent mental health and illness?. Neuroscience, 249, 53-62. PMC3696429
  17. Tottenham, N. (2013). Early social deprivation and the neurobiology of interpreting facial expressions. Navigating the social world: What infants, children, and other species can teach us. Eds.: Banaji, M. & Gelman, S. New York: Oxford University Press.
  18. Ganzel, B.L., Kim, P., Gilmore, H., Tottenham, N., Temple, E. (in press). Stress and the healthy developing brain: Evidence for stress-related neural plasticity in later childhood. Development and Psychopathology.
  19. Tottenham, N., Phuong, J., Flannery, J., Gabard-Durnam L., Goff, B. (2013). A Negativity bias for ambiguous facial expression valence during childhood: converging evidence from behavior and facial corrugator muscle responses. Emotion, 13, 92-103. PMC4006094
  20. Li, L. & Tottenham, N. (2013). Exposure to the self-face facilitates identification of dynamic facial expressions: influences on individual differences. Emotion, 13, 196-202. PMC4012536
  21. Humphreys, K.L., Lee, S.S., Tottenham, N. (2013). Not all risk taking behavior is bad: Associative sensitivity predicts learning during risk taking among high sensation seekers. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 708-715. PMC3735177
  22. Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K., Shapiro, M., & Tottenham, N. (2013). Amygdala sensitivity to race is not present in childhood but emerges over adolescence. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25(2), 234-244. PMC3628780
  23. Tottenham, N. (2012). Risk and developmental heterogeneity in previously-institutionalized children, Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(2, Supplement), S29-S33. PMC3400928
  24. Tottenham, N. (2012). Human amygdala development in the absence of species-expected caregiving. Developmental Psychobiology, 54(6):598-611. PMC3404246
  25. Tottenham, N., Shapiro, M., Telzer, E., & Humphreys, K. (2012). Amygdala response to mother. Developmental Science, 15(3), 307-19. PMC3522470
  26. Li, L. & Tottenham, N. (2011). Seeing yourself helps you see others. Emotion, 11(5):1235-41. [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
  27. Tottenham, N., Hare, T.A., & Casey, B.J. (2011). Behavioral assessment of emotion discrimination, emotion regulation and cognitive control, in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 2, 1-9. PMC3110936
  28. Casey, BJ Ruberry, E., Libby, V., Glatt, C.E., Hare, T.A., Soliman, F., Dehoux, S., Frielingsdorf, H., & Tottenham, N. (2011). Transitional and translational studies of Risk for Anxiety. Depression & Anxiety, 8(1):18-28. PMC3070413
  29. Tottenham, N., Hare, T.A., Millner, A., Gilhooly, T., Zevin, J.D. & Casey, BJ (2011). Elevated Amygdala Response to Faces Following Early Deprivation. Developmental Science, 13(1), 46-61. PMC3050520
  30. Amso, D., Fitzgerald, M., Davidow, J., Gilhooly, T., Tottenham, N. (2010). Visual exploration strategies and the development of infants’ facial emotion discrimination. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 1, 1-8. PMC3153790
  31. Tottenham, N. & Sheridan, M. (2010). A Review of adversity, the amygdala and the hippocampus: A Consideration of developmental timing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 3, 1-18. PMC2813726
  32. Soliman, F., Glatt, C., Levita, L., Bath, K.G., Jones, R., Pattwell, S.S., Tottenham, N., Amso, D., Somerville, L., Voss, H., Glover, G., Ballon, D., Lee, F.S., Casey, B.J. (2010). Genetic variant bdnf (val66met) polymorphism alters learning in mouse and human. Science, 327(5967):863-6. PMC2829261
  33. Tottenham, N., Hare, T., Quinn, B., McCarry, T., Nurse, M., Gilhooly, T., Millner, A., Galvan, A., Davidson, M., Eigsti, I.M., Thomas, K.M., Freed, P., Booma, E.S., Gunnar, M., Altemus, M., & Aronson, J., Casey, B.J. (2010) Prolonged institutional rearing is associated with atypically larger amygdala volume and difficulties in emotion regulation. Developmental Science, 13 (1), 46-61. PMC2817950
    **Awarded Developmental Science EARLY CAREER RESEARCHER PRIZE for the best original scientific paper or report to appear in the journal Developmental Science.
  34. Tottenham, N., Tanaka, J., Leon, A.C., McCarry, T., Nurse, M., Hare, T.A., Marcus, D.J., Westerlund, A., Casey, B.J., Nelson, C.A. (2009). The NimStim set of facial expressions: judgments from untrained research participants. Psychiatry Research, 168(3), 242-249. PMC3474329
    ** Most cited article in this journal; Scopus
  35. Tottenham, N., Hare, T.A., Casey, B.J. (2009). “A Developmental Perspective on Human Amygdala Function”. Chapter in The Human Amygdala; Eds.: Whalen, P.J. & Phelps, E.A.
  36. (*equal contributions, listed alphabetically) Casey*, BJ, Glatt*, C., Tottenham*, N., Soliman, F., Bath, K., Amso, D., Altemus, M., Pattwell., S., Jones, R., Levita, L., Mezey, J., Clark, A., Gunnar, M., Thomas, K., Hempstead, B., McEwen, B., & Lee, F.S. 2009). BDNF as a model system for examining gene by environment interactions across development. Neuroscience, 164(1),108-120. PMC2760671
  37. Hare, T. A., Tottenham, N., Galvan, A., Voss, H. U., Glover, G. H., & Casey, B. J. (2008). Biological substrates of emotional reactivity and regulation in adolescence during an emotional go-nogo task. Biological Psychiatry, 63(10), 927-934. PMC2664095
  38. Durston, S., Davidson. M.C., Mulder, M.J., Spicer, J.A., Galvan, A., Tottenham, N., Scheres, A., Castellanos, F.X., van Engeland, H. & Casey, B.J. (2007). Neural and behavioral correlates of expectancy violations in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48 (9), 881 – 889.
  39. Blau, V.C., Maurer, U., Tottenham, N., & McCandliss, B.D. (2007). The face-specific N170 component is modulated by emotional facial expression. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 3:7. PMC1794418
  40. Tottenham, N., Leon, A.C., & Casey, B.J. (2006). The Face behind the mask: a developmental study. Developmental Science, 9 (3), 288-294.
  41. Durston, S., Davidson, M.C., Tottenham, N., Galvan, A., Spicer, J., Fossella, J.A., & Casey, B.J. (2006). A Shift from diffuse to focal cortical activity with development. Developmental Science, 9(1), 1-8.
  42. Hare, T. A., Tottenham, N., Davidson, M. C., Glover, G. H., & Casey, B. J. (2005). Contributions of amygdala and striatal activity in emotion regulation. Biological Psychiatry, 57(6), 624-632.
  43. Casey, B.J., Tottenham, N., Liston, C., & Durston, S. (2005). Imaging the developing brain: What have we learned? Trends in Cognitive Science, 9(3), 104-110.
  44. Liston C., Watts R., Tottenham N., Davidson M.C., Niogi S., Ulug A.M., Casey B.J. (2005). Frontostriatal microstructure modulates efficient recruitment of cognitive control. Cerebral Cortex, 16(4), 553-560.
  45. Noble, K.G., Tottenham, N., & Casey, B.J. (2005). Neuroscience perspectives on disparities in school readiness. Future of Children Special Issue – The Ethnic and Racial test score gap; School readiness and the first five years of life, 15 (1), 71-89.
  46. Casey, B.J., Davidson, M.C., Hara, Y., Thomas, K.M., Martinez, A., Galvan, A., Halperin, J.A., Rodríguez-Aranda, C.E., & Tottenham, N. (2004). Early development of subcortical regions involved in non-cued attention switching. Developmental Science, 7 (5), 534-542.
  47. Davidson, MC, Horvitz, JC, Tottenham, N., Fossella, JA, Watts, R., Ulug, AM, Casey, BJ. (2004). Differential cingulate and caudate activation following unexpected nonrewarding stimuli. Neuroimage, 23, 3, 1039-1045.
  48. Durston, S., Tottenham, N., Thomas, K.M., Davidson, M.C., Eigsti, I.M., Yang, Y., Ulug, A.M., Casey, B.J. (2003). Differential patterns of striatal activation in young children with and without ADHD. Biological Psychiatry, 53(10):871-8.
  49. Durston, S., Davidson, M.C., Thomas, K.M., Worden, M.S., Tottenham, N., Martinez,A., Watts, R., Ulug , A.M., & Casey, B.J. (2003). Parametric manipulation of conflict and response competition using rapid mixed-trial event-related fMRI. Neuroimage, 20(4), 2135-2141.
  50. (*equal contribution, listed alphabetically) Davis*, E., Parker*, S., Tottenham*, N., & Gunnar, M. (2003) “Neuroendocrinology: Emotion and Cognition.” Chapter to M. DeHaan & M.H. Johnson (Eds.), The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development. Sussex, England: Psychology Press, Ltd.
  51. Casey, B.J., Tottenham, N., Fossella, J. (2002). Clinical, imaging, lesion and genetic approaches toward a model of cognitive control, Developmental Psychobiology 40(3), 237-54.
  52. Rotheram-Borus, M.J., Leonard, N.R., Lightfoot, M., Franzke, L.H., Tottenham, N., & Lee, S.J. (2002). Picking up the pieces : caregivers of adolescents bereaved by parental AIDS, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 7 (1), 115-124.
  53. Monk, C. S., Zhuang, J., Curtis, W. J., Ofenloch, I., Tottenham, N., Nelson, C. A., & Hu, X. (2002). Human hippocampal activation in the delayed matching- and nonmatching-to-sample memory tasks: an event-related functional MRI approach, Behavioral Neuroscience, 116 (4), 716-21.
  54. Tottenham, N. Instructor’s Manual to Brain, Mind, and Behavior, 3rd Edition, Bloom, F. and Nelson, C.A. New York: Worth Publishers, (2000).
  55. Tottenham, N. & Davis E. (2000) Manual on Cognitive Development. Teaching Module for the Erikson Institute, Chicago.
  56. Gwadz, M., De Vogli, R., Rotheram-Borus, M. J., Diaz, M., Cisek, T., James, N., Tottenham, N. (1999). Behavioral practices regarding combination therapies for HIV/AIDS. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 24, 81-88.
  • Provost’s Grants Program for Junior Faculty who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the UniversityCritical Periods for Intergenerational Fear Transmission in HumansRole: PI


  • Biomedical Research Seed Grants of the University of NebraskaFunctional brain networks mediating a negativity bias in children(PI: Neta)

    Role: Co-Investigator

    01/13/2015 – 01/12/2016

  • National Science FoundationThe Neurodevelopment of Social Buffering and Fear Learning: Integration and Crosstalk [Workshop Grant](PI: Megan Gunnar)Role: Co-Investigator


  • Frontiers of Innovation – Harvard Center for the Developing Child“Using Safety Signals To Reduce Anxiety Following Early-Life Stress”(PI: Tottenham)


  • Dana FoundationEpigenetic Restructuring of Human DNA following Early- Life Stress(PI: Tottenham)


  • National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH091864)Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists (BRAINS) awardLongitudinal Examination of Human Amygdala-vmPFC Development

    (PI: Tottenham)


  • NIMH SBIR (R43 HD072727-01)A Platform For Stimulus Presentation and Data Collection on Mobile Devices(co-PI: Tottenham)



  • 2014-2018, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Fellowship(PI: Bridget Callaghan) Role: Mentor
  • 2014-2017, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship(PI: Michelle VanTieghem) Role: Mentor
  • 2013-2016, National Science Foundation Graduate Research FellowshipDevelopment of resting-state functional connectivity between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex(PI: Laurel Gabard-Durnam) Role: Mentor
  • 2014-2017 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, F32HD081960The Development and Regulation of Moral Emotions.(PI: Chelsea Helion) Role: Co-Sponsor
  • 2015-2016 UCLA Dissertation Fellowship(PI: Bonnie Goff) Role: Mentor

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