Mary Heitzeg, Ph.D. primary research focus is on developmental neuroimaging targeted at investigating genetic and behavioral risk factors for substance abuse. Adolescence is a period of substantial change in brain structure and function, in personality and behavior, and in socialization. Understanding the dynamics between these changes is a major challenge as individual differences in brain function affect behavior, which, in turn, can alter the developmental trajectory of the brain. The influence of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use (ATOD) is an especially important example of this dynamic as adolescent exposure to ATOD can have long-lasting consequences for later adulthood.
Dr. Heitzeg has developed a program of research using longitudinal neuroimaging to investigate two related themes relevant to adolescent ATOD: 1) how early individual differences in brain function relate to susceptibility to alcohol and other drug problems; and 2) the effects of ATOD on the developing brain and how this impacts risk trajectories. Expanding areas of research include investigating relationships between sleep changes in adolescence and impulsive behavior; and the impact of peer influences on adolescent brain development. She has an appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Addiction Center at the University of Michigan and an adjunct appointment in the Department of Psychology.
Areas of Interest
- Developmental neuroimaging
- Vulnerability factors in substance abuse
- Functional neuroimaging of genetic variation
- Ph.D., in Psychology, University of Michigan