Welcome to the Mental Health and Neurodevelopment Lab, directed by Deborah J. Walder, Ph.D. 

Our lab is comprised of a vibrant team of researchers, including graduate and undergraduate students.  Together, w
e aim to uncover risk factors for mental health disorders that have developmental origins such as the schizophrenia (psychosis) spectrum and depression.  We study problems that occur early in the development of the central nervous system ('neurodevelopment') and that affect the brain and risk for illness.  We are interested in how
neurodevelopmental abnormalities may intersect with stressful events (during pregnancy through adolescence) and other biological factors (genetics and stress hormones yielded by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) to increase risk for mental health challenges.  We also study how these and other factors (neuropsychological functioning, social cognition, social and role functioning) may be used to help better predict who may be at greatest risk.  Our approach includes translational developmental neuroscience.

We study biomarkers of risk using neurohormone assay, genetic testing, neuropsychological and cognitive testing, brain imaging techniques (MRI, DTI, fMRI), dermatoglyphics, clinical interviewing and self-report of stress, among healthy and high-risk youth and young adults - including from the general population. This includes use of prospective methods to better understand the early trajectory of illness, with an eye toward preventive intervention.

We are also interested in understanding the role of sex differences in mental health and well-being.  How are females and males differentially susceptible to (or protected from) adverse health outcomes?  What role may hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) play in these sex differences?  How might novel treatments be designed to target the different needs of females and males?

Ultimately, we aim to advance our scientific understanding of psychosis and depression and our ability to better identify - early on - individuals who may be at mental health risk.  We also hope to help provide clues that inform development of new preventive interventions and remediation strategies to thwart illness onset, actualize youth's potential for healthy outcome, and improve the lives of individuals affected by mental health concerns.


Our laboratory is located in the Department of Psychology at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York.

To learn more about Brooklyn College and the Brooklyn College Psychology Department, Click the Clock Tower.

We are affiliated with The Graduate Center of The City University of New York, which offers a Ph.D. Program in Psychology:  Clinical
Psychology with Emphasis in Neuropsychology; Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience; Health Psychology and Clinical Neuroscience; among others.

To learn more about The CUNY Graduate Center and Ph.D. Program in Psychology, Click the Graduate Center icon.