Nim Tottenham, PhD

Departments And Divisions

  • Department of Psychology (Columbia University)
  • Assistant Professor of Psychology (Columbia University)
Nim Tottenham, <span>PhD</span>

Our research examines the neurobiology of affective development during childhood and adolescence. Affective development is incredibly protracted in the human, which provides us with an extended period of plasticity for learning from environmental cues. Our laboratory’s questions include a focus on the powerful influences of early social experiences. Using a combination of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), laboratory-based behavior, and physiological methods, our research spans a wide developmental age range from infancy to adulthood to I) characterize developmental trajectories of human affective neurobiology (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus, striatum, prefrontal cortex), II) understand how early social environments influence this neurobiology, and III) identify effects of early-life stress on the development of affective neurobiology. Our hypotheses about human development are influenced by both human and non-human animal literatures on affective development, and I have approached these aims by studying normative human development and development following exposure to early-life adversity.

Lab Locations

  • Schermerhorn Hall

    1190 Amsterdam Ave
    406 Mail Code: 5501
    New York, NY 10027
    (212) 854-1925
    (212) 854-3609

Research Interests

  • Developmental Affective Neuroscience
  • Human Subcortical-Cortical Development
  • Early-Life Stress
  • Childhood and Adolescence


  1. Silvers, J.A., Lumian, D. Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G., Goff, B., Fareri, D., Caldera, C., Flannery, J., Telzer, E.H., Humphreys, K., & Tottenham, N. (in press) Previous institutionalization is followed by broader amygdala-hippocampal-PFC network connectivity during aversive learning in human development. Journal of Neuroscience.
  2. Green, S., Goff, B., Gee, D. G., Gabard-Durnam, L., Flannery, J., Telzer, E., Humphreys, K.L., Louie, J., & Tottenham, N. (in press). Amygdala discrimination predicts future anxiety in youth with early deprivation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
  3. Fareri, D. & Tottenham, N. (in press). Effects of early life stress on amygdala and striatal development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
  4. Gabard-Durnam, L., Gee, D.G, Goff, B., Flannery, J., Telzer, E; Humphreys, K., Lumian, D; Fareri, DS; Caldera, C; Tottenham, N. (in press). Stimulus-elicited connectivity influences resting-state connectivity years later in human development: a prospective study. *authors contributed equally. Journal of Neuroscience.
  5. Callaghan, B. & Tottenham, N. (in press). The Stress Acceleration Hypothesis: Effects of early-life adversity on emotion circuits and behavior. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.
  6. Callaghan, B. & Tottenham, N. (in press). The Neuro-Environmental Loop of Plasticity: A cross-species analysis of parental effects on emotion circuitry development following typical and adverse caregiving. Neuropsychopharmacology Reviews.
  7. Fareri DS, Gabard-Durnam L, Goff B, Flannery J, Gee DG, Lumian DS, Caldera C, Tottenham N.  (2015) Normative development of ventral striatal resting state connectivity in humans.  Neuroimage. 118, 422-437.
  8. 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. (2014). Maternal buffering of human amygdala–prefrontal circuitry during childhood. Psychological Science, 25(11), 2067-2078. PMC4377225
  9. Gabard-Durnam, L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., Gee, D.G., Humphreys, K.L., Telzer, E.H., Hare, T.A., & Tottenham, N. (2014).The development of human amygdala functional connectivity at rest from 4 to 23 Years: a cross-sectional study. Neuroimage, 95, 193-207. PMC4305511
  10. Tottenham, N. (2014). The Importance of Early Environments for Neuro-Affective Development. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, 16, 109-129. PMC4021037
  11. 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
  12. Olsavsky, A., Telzer, E.H., Shapiro, M., Humphreys, K.L., Flannery, J., Goff, B., & Tottenham, N. (2013). PMC3818506
  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. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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