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, by studying the effects of early life stress (e.g. childhood maltreatment), trauma, 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 and in the immune system. The role of stress in processing and regulating emotional information is studied with experimental research in the lab, but also in clinical practice. For example, I examine emotion recognition, empathy, attention to emotions, and memory for emotional information in both healthy samples as well as in children and adults with stress-related disorders. 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)

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; Child Development; Development & Psychopathology; Depression and Anxiety; Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience; Acta Psychologica.


  • Research Grant from the Leids Universiteits Fonds / Stichting S.K.A.l. (2019) to study the role of the immune system in adolescent depression.
  • 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 – 2021). 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

LIBC Stress & Emotion

Selected Publications

  • LJM van den Berg, MS Tollenaar, K Pittner, LHCG Compier-de Block, RSM Buisman, MH van IJzendoorn, BM Elzinga (2018). Pass it on? The neural responses to rejection in the context of a family study on maltreatment, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Volume 13, Issue 6, 1 June 2018, Pages 616–627
  • Tollenaar, M.S., Ruissen, M., Elzinga, B.M. &  de Bruijn, E. R. A. (2017). Does oxytocin lead to emotional interference during a working memory paradigm? Psychopharmacology, 234: 3467-3474
  • Tollenaar, M.S., Molendijk, M.L., Penninx, B.W.J.H., Milaneschi, Y. & Antypa, N. (2017). The association of childhood maltreatment with depression and anxiety is not moderated by the oxytocin receptor gene. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 267: 517.
  • LNC Visser, MS Tollenaar, JA Bosch, LJP van Doornen, HCJM de Haes, & EMA Smets (2017). Are psychophysiological arousal and self-reported emotional stress during an oncological consultation related to memory of medical information? An experimental study. Stress 20 (1), 103-111

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Klinische Psychologie

Work address

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



No relevant ancillary activities

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