Universiteit Leiden

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Marieke Tollenaar

Assistant Professor

Dr. M.S. Tollenaar
+31 71 527 3454

Academic Career

  • Assistant Professor: Clinical Psychology, Leiden University 

  • Post-doctoral researcher: Developmental Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen (2009–2010)

  • PhD: Clinical, Health and Neuropsychology, Leiden University (2004–2009)  
    Title of thesis: Fading memories; the impact of stress hormones on the retrieval of emotional memories

  • Visiting Scholar: Cognitive Sciences, UC Berkeley, California, USA (2004)

  • Researcher: Medical Psychology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam (2003)

  • MA: Biological Psychology, Free University, Amsterdam (Cum Laude, 2003)


My research is concerned with the relations between stress, emotions, and cognition, studying the effects of both early life stress (e.g. childhood maltreatment), and acute stress. The stress hormone cortisol plays a central role in these studies, as well as its supposed antithesis –oxytocin-, also known as ‘the love hormone’. I make use of pharmacological manipulations, information on genetic polymorphisms, and study the role of stress in epigenetic patterns. The role of stress in processing and regulating emotional information are studied mostly with experimental research in the lab. For example, I have examined emotion recognition, empathy, attention to emotions and memory for emotional information. With this research I hope to give more insight into the underlying physiological processes that play a role in both healthy and disturbed emotion regulation, as well as the role of stressful circumstances on these processes.


  • Supervision of theses students in the Clinical Psychology Master and Research Master
  • Supervision of Bachelor theses students
  • Clinical and Research Master internship supervision
  • Coordination and Lecturing in the course Psychological and Neurobiological Consequences of Child Abuse (Elective and minor course)
  • Group seminars in Experimental Clinical Psychology (Master’s course)
  • Group seminars in Career orientation and planning (Bachelor’s course)

Management tasks

  • Lab coordinator of the Clinical Psychology unit
  • Coordinator of the LIBC Stress & Emotion hotspot

Reviewer for

Biological Psychology; Journal of Psychosomatic Research; Journal of Psychophysiology; Psychoneuroendocrinology; Neurobiology of Learning and Memory; Hormones and Behavior; Neuroscience letters; Emotion; Stress and Health.


  • Travel Grant of the Institute Psychology (2017) (3-month-visit to McGill University in Montreal)
  • KWF (Dutch Cancer Fund) grant (2012); co-PI with profs. Ellen Smets and Lorenz van Doornen. Titel: Recall of information: the role of oncologists' responding to patients' distress and psychophysiological arousal. An experimental study.
  • VSPA scholarship for semester at UC Berkeley by the Santander Group (2004)

Supervised PhD candidates

  • Leonie Visser (2012-2017). Recall of information: the role of oncologists' responding to patients' distress and psychophysiological arousal. An experimental study ( Cum Laude)
  • Lisa van den Berg (2011 – present). The role of neuronal emotional reactivity in the intergenerational transmission of abuse: a family study approach
  • Mirjam Wever & Lisanne van Houtum (Feb 2017 – present). Unraveling the Impact of Emotional Maltreatment on the Developing Brain.

Relevant links


Selected Publications

  • Tollenaar MS, Chatzimanoli M, van der Wee N, Putman P. Enhanced orienting of attention in response to emotional gaze cues after oxytocin administration in healthy young men. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2013, 38(9), 1797-802

  • Tollenaar, MS, Beijers R, Jansen J, Riksen-Walraven M, de Weerth, C. Maternal prenatal stress and cortisol reactivity to stressors in human infants (2010).  Stress, Jan;14(1):53-65

  • Tollenaar MS, Elzinga BM, Spinhoven P, & Everaerd WA. The immediate and prolonged effects of cortisol and propranolol on declarative memory retrieval. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Jan; 91(1): 23-31

  • Tollenaar MS, Elzinga BM, Spinhoven P, & Everaerd W. Long-term outcomes of memory retrieval under stress (2008). Behavioral Neuroscience, Jun; 122(3): 697-703

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Klinische Psychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court Building
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 2B32



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