Research interests

Susanne de Rooij is a biological psychologist and epidemiologist who is fascinated by how much early life experiences can shape the brain and leave marks with effects into old age. Her studies on men and women who had been prenatally exposed to the Dutch famine showed for the first time that prenatal undernutrition seems to accelerate cognitive aging and affects the size and function of the brain in older age. She also found that applying cognitive behavioural therapy in mothers suffering from depression in pregnancy seemed to induce small changes in the brains of the offspring and in epigenetics.

Dr. de Rooij’s current research work is focused on ‘A healthy brain throughout lifespan’, with the subtopics brain development, cognition, mental health and brain aging. She is leading a number of different projects aiming to further the understanding of the consequences of adverse circumstances during early life for development of the brain and how this affects cognitive and mental health across the lifespan.

Over the years, she has gained interdisciplinary expertise in the fields of biological psychology, epidemiology, and neurobiology and vast experience in project management of large cohort studies as well as smaller neurobiological studies including subjects of all ages. She also has a very active collaboration with the research group from Dr. Aniko Korosi at the Swammerdam Institute of the UvA, aiming to synthesize evidence from animal and human work on the early life origins of metabolic and mental health / dementia.


Epidemiology; Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; Early life stress; Mental and cognitive health; Brain development and aging

Research output

  1. Are Brain and Cognitive Reserve Shaped by Early Life Circumstances?

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

  2. Prenatal famine exposure has sex-specific effects on brain size

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  3. Prenatal undernutrition and cognitive function in late adulthood

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  4. Prenatal stress and models explaining risk for psychopathology revisited: Generic vulnerability and divergent pathways

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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