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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

Dumais, K.M., Mayer, T.E., Bredewold, R., Veenema, A.H. (2013). Sex differences in social interest correlate with oxytocin receptor densities in subregions of the amygdala. Hormones and Behavior, 64:693-701.

Veenema, A.H., Bredewold, R., De Vries, G.J. (2013). Sex-specific modulation of social play by vasopressin. Psychoneuroendocrinology, Jul 6. [Epub ahead of print].

Veenema, A.H. (2012). Toward understanding how early-life social experiences alter oxytocin- and vasopressin-regulated social behaviors. Hormones and Behavior 61:304-312.

Veenema, A.H., Bredewold, R., De Vries, G.J. (2012). Vasopressin regulates social recognition in juvenile and adult rats of both sexes, but in sex- and age-specific ways. Hormones and Behavior 61:50-6.

Lukas, M., Bredewold, R., Landgraf, R., Neumann, I.D., Veenema, A.H. (2011). Early life stress impairs social recognition due to a blunted response of vasopressin release within the septum of adult male rats. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36:843-53.

*Please note: These files are Adobe Acrobat® (PDF) formatted files. To view them, you will need the free Adobe Acrobat file reader.