Rochellys Diaz Heijtz, Ph.D.
Laboratory of developmental cognitive neuroscience
Our research interests are centered on understanding the biological basis of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We use different animal model systems to understand the contribution of genetic factors, impact of early adverse life experience (e.g., stress, infections), and gene-environment interactions on the development of motor, affective and cognitive functions, which are impaired in ADHD and ASD. We are also interested in exploring the potential clinical utility of cognitive enhancers in combination with motor/cognitive training for the treatment of these disorders.
Our work is performed in collaboration with clinicians and psychologists at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital and Karolinska Institutet Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND). This optimizes the opportunities for iterative translation from basic to clinical research and back to more fundamental mechanistic studies.
Key subjects of interest
1) Impact of normal gut microbiota on brain development and behavior.
2) Clinical studies of young children at high risk for developing ASD, with special focus on the potential role of the gut microbiota.
3) Molecular and epigenetic mechanisms underlying motor/cognitive training-induced plasticity and modulation by cognitive enhancers.
- Yu Qian, PhD student
- Tim Arentsen, PhD student
Cognitive outcome in adolescents and young adults after repeat courses of antenatal corticosteroids.
J. Pediatr (in press). (2013)
The normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. (2011) 108: 3047-3052
Primate early life stress leads to long-term mild hippocampal decreases in corticosteroid receptor expression.
Biological Psychiatry. (2010) 67: 1106-1109
Effects of antenatal dexamethasone treatment on glucocorticoid receptor and calcyon gene expression in the prefrontal cortex of neonatal and adult common marmoset monkeys.
Behavioral Brain Function. (2010) 6: 18
Deficits in fine motor skills in a genetic animal model of ADHD
Behavioral Brain Function. (2010) 6: 51