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Research Groups

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz, Ph.D.

Rochellys Diaz Heijtz

Laboratory of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Research Focus

Research in this group focuses on the understanding of the neurobiology of common neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism. ADHD is a life-long disorder which begins in early childhood and is characterized by difficulties with attention, motor hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is estimated to affect 3-9% of school-aged children and approximately 4% of adults worldwide. ADHD is a multifactorial disorder. The neurobiology of ADHD is not well understood, but there is agreement in the crucial involvement of the catecholamine rich frontal-striatal circuits

We are using different animal model systems to understand the contribution of genetic factors, impact of early adverse life experience, and gene-environment interactions on the development of motor, affective and cognitive functions, which are impaired in the above disorders. These studies are in close contact with clinicians at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Stockholm Brain Institute, and NYU Child Study Center that optimizes the opportunities for iterative translation from basic to clinical research and back to more fundamental mechanistic studies.

Key topics in our research:

  • Impact of early adverse experience (e.g. stress, infections) on the development of motor, social, and cognitive functions in mice, monkeys and humans.
  • Role of dopamine receptors on motor inhibition, skilled motor movements and motor impulsivity.

Selected Publications

Heijtz RD, Alexeyenko A, Castellanos FX

Calcyon mRNA expression in the frontal-striatal circuitry and its relationship to vesicular processes and ADHD.

Behavioral Brain Function 3: 33, 2007

Heijtz RD, Kolb B, Forssberg H

Motor inhibitory role of dopamine D1 receptors: implications for ADHD.

Physiology and Behavior 92: 155-160, 2007

Diaz Heijtz R, Scott L, Forssberg H

Alteration of dopamine D1 receptor-mediated motor inhibition and stimulation during development in rats is associated with distinct patterns of c-fos mRNA expression in the frontal-striatal circuitry.

European Journal of Neuroscience 19: 945-956, 2004

Diaz Heijtz R, Kolb B, Forssberg H

Can a therapeutic dose of amphetamine during pre-adolescence modify the pattern of synaptic organization in the brain?

European Journal of Neuroscience 18: 3394-3399

Zelenin S, Aperia A, Diaz Heijtz R

Calcyon in the rat brain: cloning of cDNA and expression of mRNA.

Journal of Comparative Neurology 446: 37-45, 2002

Associate Professor Rochellys Diaz Heijtz

08-524 8878 86
08-517 773 49
Department of Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet
Retzius väg 8
S-17177 Stockholm, Sweden

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