Brain circuitry expert to discuss role of caregivers in affective development

Photo of Nim Tottenham courtesy photographNim Tottenham

Held at the UC Davis MIND Institute at 2825 50th St. in Sacramento, the lecture is free, open to the public and no reservations are required. A map and directions are online at

Tottenham’s research focuses on how early life experiences, including caregiving, influence affective development, or the capacity to express and respond to emotions. She uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which links specific parts of the brain with specific behaviors, to study the limbic-cortical system, where emotional life resides.

It is widely known that age-related changes in the limbic system underlie the maturation of affective behaviors. For her MIND Institute lecture, Tottenham will review fMRI studies of two limbic system structures — the amygdala and prefontal cortex — to show how typical and adverse caregiving environments affect emotional development.

Tottenham received her Ph.D. and postdoctoral training at the University of Minnesota and the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Co-author of scores of peer-reviewed papers and a member of the editorial board of the journal Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, she is a recipient of the National Institute of Mental Health BRAINS Award, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and the Developmental Science Early Career Researcher Prize.

For questions regarding the lecture, contact Mara Chambers at 916-703-0237.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique, interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments, and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations, is available online at