Jens Pruessner

Jens Pruessner

McGill Centre for Studies in Aging

6825 Boulevard Lasalle
Montréal, QC
H4H 1R3

(514) 761-6131 x6309

(514) 888-4052

Research area: 
Clinical Research / Human Research
Psychosocial Research / Population Research

Research Theme: 
Ageing, Cognition and Alzheimer's disease

Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, Neurology and Neurosurgery
Director, McGill University Research Center for Studies in Aging
Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada

Stress and its effects on the brain, health and disease

 Stress affects a number of psychological and physiological processes, including cognition and emotion, as well as metabolism and inflammation. Further, it is considered an important risk factor for the development of psychopathology.    
The exact mechanism by which stress can exert these effects continue to be investigated. Most theories involve the differential regulation of the two predominant stress & energy systems, the  sympathetic nervous system (sns) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (hpa) axis, as mediators in the psychological and physiological effects of stress.   
While previous research has focused on effects of either one or the other system on psychological or physiological health outcomes, very few studies have investigated the role of the interaction among the stress response systems.  
The research projects of the laboratory aim to gain a better understanding of what factors contribute to the interaction of these systems, and how the interaction contributes to the onset and progression of stress-related disease. We use a combination of psychological, endocrinological, physiological and neuroimaging methods for this purpose. 

Voellmin A., Winzeler K., Hug E., Wilhelm F.H., Schaefer V., Gaab J., La Marca R., Pruessner J.C. & Bader K. 2015. Blunted endocrine and cardiovascular reactivity in young healthy women reporting a history of childhood adversity. Psychoneuroendocrinology 51: 58-67.
Juster R.P., Hatzenbuehler M.L., Mendrek A., Pfaus J.G., Smith N.G., Johnson P.J., Lefebvre-Louis J.P., Raymond C., Marin M.F., Sindi S., Lupien S.J. & Pruessner J.C. 2014. Sexual Orientation Modulates Endocrine Stress Reactivity. Biol Psychiatry, epub ahead of print.
Schwabe L., Nader K. & Pruessner J.C. 2014. Reconsolidation of human memory: brain mechanisms and clinical relevance. Biol Psychiatry 76: 274-280.
Schoemaker D., Gauthier S. & Pruessner J.C. 2014. Recollection and familiarity in aging individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease: a literature review. Neuropsychol Rev 24: 313-331.
Dedovic K., Duchesne A., Engert V., Lue S.D., Andrews J., Efanov S.I., Beaudry T. & Pruessner J.C. 2014. Psychological, endocrine and neural responses to social evaluation in subclinical depression. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 9: 1632-1644.
Heim, C.M., Mayberg, H.S., Mletzko, T., Nemeroff, C.B., Pruessner, J.C., 2013. Decreased cortical representation of genital somatosensory field after childhood sexual abuse. Am J Psychiatry 170, 616-623.
Klengel, T., Mehta, D., Anacker, C., Rex-Haffner, M., Pruessner, J.C., Pariante, C.M., Pace, T.W., Mercer, K.B., Mayberg, H.S., Bradley, B., Nemeroff, C.B., Holsboer, F., Heim, C.M., Ressler, K.J., Rein, T., Binder, E.B., 2013. Allele-specific FKBP5 DNA demethylation mediates gene-childhood trauma interactions. Nat Neurosci 16, 33-41.
Buss, C., Davis, E.P., Shahbaba, B., Pruessner, J.C., Head, K., Sandman, C.A., 2012. Maternal cortisol over the course of pregnancy and subsequent child amygdala and hippocampus volumes and affective problems. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109, E1312-1319.
Mizrahi, R., Addington, J., Rusjan, P.M., Suridjan, I., Ng, A., Boileau, I., Pruessner, J.C., Remington, G., Houle, S., Wilson, A.A., 2012. Increased stress-induced dopamine release in psychosis. Biol Psychiatry 71, 561-567.
Lederbogen, F., Kirsch, P., Haddad, L., Streit, F., Tost, H., Schuch, P., Wust, S., Pruessner, J.C., Rietschel, M., Deuschle, M., Meyer-Lindenberg, A., 2011. City living and urban upbringing affect neural social stress processing in humans. Nature 474, 498-501.
Soliman, A., O'Driscoll, G.A., Pruessner, J., Joober, R., Ditto, B., Streicker, E., Goldberg, Y., Caro, J., Rekkas, P.V., Dagher, A., 2011. Limbic response to psychosocial stress in schizotypy: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Schizophr Res 131, 184-191.
Engert, V., Efanov, S.I., Dedovic, K., Dagher, A., Pruessner, J.C., 2011. Increased cortisol awakening response and afternoon/evening cortisol output in healthy young adults with low early life parental care. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 214, 261-268.
Engert, V., Efanov, S.I., Dedovic, K., Duchesne, A., Dagher, A., Pruessner, J.C., 2010. Perceived early-life maternal care and the cortisol response to repeated psychosocial stress. J Psychiatry Neurosci 35, 370-377.
Dedovic, K., Engert, V., Duchesne, A., Lue, S.D., Andrews, J., Efanov, S.I., Beaudry, T., Pruessner, J.C., 2010. Cortisol awakening response and hippocampal volume: vulnerability for major depressive disorder? Biol Psychiatry 68, 847-853.
Quirin, M., Gillath, O., Pruessner, J.C., Eggert, L.D., 2010. Adult attachment insecurity and hippocampal cell density. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 5, 39-47.

Jens C Pruessner, PhD, is the Director of the McGill Centre for Studies on Aging, and a Full Professor in the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. in 1997, he completed his PhD in Trier, Germany. After postdoctoral studies at McGill University from 1998 to 2001 he accepted a faculty position at McGill University in 2002. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology, and the International Society of Behavioral Neuroscience. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Curt P. Richter young investigator award of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology in 2008, and the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2009. To date, he has published one book, six book chapters, and over 175 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His research focuses on the effects of psychosocial stress in the central nervous system using structural and functional neuroimaging, and psychoneuroendocrinological research methods.

NARSAD young investigator
FRSQ Chercheur Boursier
CIHR New Investigator
FRQS Chercheur national
Young Investigator Award of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology
Young Investigator Award of the Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Nida Ali, PhD candidate
Alexander Barton, MSc candidate
Tomas Beaudry, Research Assistant
Cory Cooperman, PhD candidate
Philip Dickinson, PhD candidate
Romane Dufoix, MSc candidate
Anja Feneberg, MSc candidate
Jessica Fleissig, MSc candidate
Larah Maunder, MSc candidate
Jonas Nitschke, PhD candidate
Vanessa Scarapicchia, Research Assistant
Dorothee Schoemaker, PhD candidate
Ellen Zakreski, MSc candidate

Recent Publications

McGill Logo

CIUSSS ouest montreal logo


  • Douglas Hospital
  • Dobell Pavillion
  • Brain imaging centre