Christina L. Williams

Christina L. Williams

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Rutgers University 1981


My research uses both mouse and rat models to examine how nutrients and hormones alter the course of brain and behavioral development. For example, we find that supplementing or depleting nutrients like choline or folate from the maternal diet have long-term consequences on rats' memory function during early development, in adulthood, and into old age. Specifically, choline supplementation appears to improve memory while short periods of choline deprivations during prenatal development appears to selectively impair attentional processes. A second line of research examines the effects of estrogen and other steroid hormones on brain and memory function across the lifespan. I am interested in both early developmental effects of estrogens (that is, the development of sex differences in cognition) as well as effects of replacement estrogens after reproductive senescence. Recently our laboratory has begun to use various genetically altered strains of mice (knockouts and transgene) to examine how nutrients and hormones during development may interact with genotype to alter the development of learning and memory processes.


Effects of nutrients and hormones on the brain, neuroscience, development, estrogen, choline

Pedersen, CA, Chang, SWC, and Williams, CL. "Evolutionary perspectives on the role of oxytocin in human social behavior, social cognition and psychopathology." Brain research 1580 (September 2014): 1-7. Full Text

Crowgey, T, Peters, KB, Hornsby, WE, Lane, A, McSherry, F, Herndon, JE, West, MJ, Williams, CL, and Jones, LW. "Relationship between exercise behavior, cardiorespiratory fitness, and cognitive function in early breast cancer patients treated with doxorubicin-containing chemotherapy: a pilot study." Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme 39.6 (June 2014): 724-729. Full Text

Agostino, PV, Cheng, R-K, Williams, CL, West, AE, and Meck, WH. "Acquisition of response thresholds for timed performance is regulated by a calcium-responsive transcription factor, CaRF." Genes, brain, and behavior 12.6 (August 2013): 633-644. Full Text

Wong-Goodrich, SJE, Glenn, MJ, Mellott, TJ, Liu, YB, Blusztajn, JK, and Williams, CL. "Water maze experience and prenatal choline supplementation differentially promote long-term hippocampal recovery from seizures in adulthood." Hippocampus 21.6 (June 2011): 584-608. Full Text

McGowan, PO, Hope, TA, Meck, WH, Kelsoe, G, and Williams, CL. "Impaired social recognition memory in recombination activating gene 1-deficient mice." Brain Res 1383 (April 6, 2011): 187-195. Full Text

Pleil, KE, Cordes, S, Meck, WH, and Williams, CL. "Rapid and acute effects of estrogen on time perception in male and female rats. (Published online)" Front Integr Neurosci 5 (2011): 63-. Full Text

Williams, CL. "Sex differences in counting and timing. (Published online)" Front Integr Neurosci 5 (2011): 88-. Full Text

Williams, CL. "Sex differences in counting and timing." Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience DECEMBER (2011). Full Text

Wong-Goodrich, SJE, Tognoni, CM, Mellott, TJ, Glenn, MJ, Blusztajn, JK, and Williams, CL. "Prenatal choline deficiency does not enhance hippocampal vulnerability after kainic acid-induced seizures in adulthood." Brain Research 1413 (2011): 84-97. Full Text


Selected Grants

Sex and APOE genotype interact to alter immune regulated metabolism in AD awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Role of Oxytocin in the Amygdala-Prefrontal Network During Social Decision-Making awarded by National Institutes of Health (Consultant). 2012 to 2014

Lifespan Effects of Choline on Stress, Memory, and Brain awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2005 to 2007

Center for Behavioral Neuroscience and Genomics awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2002 to 2004