Antonia V. Seligowski, PhD
Director, Neurocardiac Effects of Stress and Trauma (NEST) Laboratory
- Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry
Antonia V. Seligowski, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at McLean Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Seligowski completed her pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Kerry Ressler’s Neurobiology of Fear Laboratory at McLean.
Using methods such as psychophysiology (e.g., heart rate) and electroencephalography (EEG), Dr. Seligowski’s research aims to elucidate brain-heart mechanisms underlying PTSD. She also seeks to identify how these mechanisms are involved in cardiovascular disease risk in PTSD, and how they are influenced by endocrine function. Dr. Seligowski’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.
Dr. Seligowski’s Neurocardiac Effects of Stress and Trauma (NEST) Laboratory seeks to understand alterations in the brain-heart connection that arise from stressful or traumatic experiences.
PTSD is widely known to be associated with heightened risk for cardiovascular disease and dysfunction, yet the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unclear. The NEST Lab uses techniques in neurophysiology (e.g., EEG) and psychophysiology (e.g., heart rate, startle) to probe these mechanisms, as well as measurement of renin-angiotensin system activity (e.g., plasma renin levels), which is involved in blood pressure regulation.
Dr. Seligowski also uses flow-mediated dilation to assess endothelial function, which is a non-invasive ultrasound technique to obtain a more precise assessment of cardiovascular function.
Another goal of Dr. Seligowski’s research is to understand sex and gender differences in PTSD and cardiovascular disease.
Women are more than two times as likely as men to receive a diagnosis of PTSD, and cardiovascular disease is known to have sex and gender effects.
Estradiol has been shown to be a protective factor in both PTSD and cardiovascular disease, pointing to the significance of gonadal hormones in understanding sex and gender differences in these disorders. Thus, Dr. Seligowski’s research also seeks to characterize the different pathways by which men versus women with PTSD experience cardiovascular risk.
An ongoing study in the NEST Lab aims to probe the brain-heart connection in women with and without PTSD by examining neurophysiological, psychophysiological, and cardiovascular function measures (e.g., endothelial function), as well as renin-angiotensin system activity. This study also aims to characterize the effects of gonadal hormones on these measures.
- Robyn A. Ellis, PhD, Research Fellow
- Yongsheng Li, MD, Vascular Ultrasound Technician
- Theresa K. Webber, BA, Clinical Research Assistant
Seligowski AV, Harnett NG, Merker JB, Ressler KJ. Nervous and endocrine system dysfunction in posttraumatic stress disorder: An overview and consideration of sex as a biological variable. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience & Neuroimaging. 2020;5:381–391.
Seligowski AV, Steuber ER, Hinrichs R, Jovanovic T. A prospective examination of sex differences in posttraumatic autonomic functioning. Neurobiology of Stress. 2021;15:100384.
Seligowski AV, Misganaw B, Duffy LA, Ressler KJ, Guffanti G. Large-scale genetics of PTSD and cardiovascular disease demonstrates robust shared risk and improves risk prediction accuracy. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2022;appiajp21111113.
Education & Training
- 2007 BA in Psychology, Boston University
- 2014 MA in Clinical Psychology, Northern Illinois University
- 2017 PhD in Clinical Psychology, Northern Illinois University
- 2016-2017 Clinical Psychology Internship, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
- 2017-2019 Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
- 2018 Licensed Psychologist, Board of Registration of Psychologists, Commonwealth of Massachusetts