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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Alexa Veenema

associate professor

Alexa Veenema

Ph.D., University of Groningen, 2003

Office: McGuinn 522
Phone: (617) 552-1661

Neurobiology of Social Behavior Lab

Research Interests: Professor Veenema examines the neural basis of social behaviors (including juvenile play-fighting, adult aggression, social recognition, and social anxiety). She is particularly interested in the role of early life stress in modulating these behaviors and in the neural circuits underlying the maturation of social behaviors. She is using rats and mice to explore the underlying brain systems with a focus on the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin among others. Her research ultimately aims to shed light on normal and abnormal human social functioning as observed in autism spectrum disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia.

Academic Profile: Dr. Veenema studied Biology with specialization in Neuroscience. In 2003, she received her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands under supervision of Profs. Jaap Koolhaas and Ron de Kloet. She did her first post-doctorate in the lab of Prof. Inga Neumann at the University of Regensburg in Germany and a second post-doctorate in the lab of Prof. Geert de Vries at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Dr. Veenema is a regular referee of more than 15 international journals and a member of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology, and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies. She received two postdoctoral stipends from the Bavarian Research Foundation and an international research fellowship from the German Research Foundation.

Typically offered courses

Curriculum Vitae*

Google Scholar Citation Profile

Office Hours*


PSYC3380 Neuroscience of Psychopathology
PSYC3382 Neurobiology of Stress
PSYC5580 Neural Systems and Stress
PSYC5581 Neurobiology of Mental Illness

Representative Publications

Smith CJ, Poehlmann ML, Li S, Ratnaseelan AM, Bredewold R, Veenema AH (2016) Age and sex differences in oxytocin and vasopressin V1a receptor binding densities in the rat brain: focus on the social decision-making network. Brain Struct Funct Jul 7 [Epub ahead of print]

Dumais KM, Alonso AG, Immormino MA, Bredewold R, Veenema AH (2016) Involvement of the oxytocin system in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis in the sex-specific regulation of social recognition. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 64:79-88.

Dumais KM, Veenema AH (2016) Vasopressin and oxytocin receptor systems in the brain: Sex differences and sex-specific regulation of social behavior. Front Neuroendocrinol, 40:1-23.

Bredewold R, Schiavo JK, van der Hart M, Verreij M, Veenema AH (2015) Dynamic changes in extracellular release of GABA and glutamate in the lateral septum during social play behavior in juvenile rats: Implications for sex-specific regulation of social play behavior. Neuroscience, 307:117-27.

Smith CJ, Wilkins KB, Mogavero JN, Veenema AH (2015) Social Novelty Investigation in the Juvenile Rat: Modulation by the ╬╝-Opioid System. J Neuroendocrinol, 27:752-64.

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