Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory

University of Chicago

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience


Emma Childs, PhD


Jul 2013 - present: Research Associate (Associate Professor), HBPL, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago

Jul 2007 - Jun 2013: Research Associate (Assistant Professor), HBPL, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago

Sept 2004 - Jun 2007: Postdoctoral Research Scholar, HBPL, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago

May 2004: Ph.D., Behavioral Pharmacology, The Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, UK.

Research Interests:

A main focus of the research I have conducted here has examined interactions between acute stress and the effects of psychoactive drugs, including alcohol, nicotine, amphetamine and THC. In addition, we have also assessed how sex, menstrual cycle, and genetics alter responses to acute stress. Another key area of research has been how the effects of caffeine are altered by arousal level, habitual use and genetic factors. More recently, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Indiana and at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, I have used fMRI to assess neural responses to acute doses of psychoactive drugs. Currently, my projects focus on interactions between drugs and the places where they are experienced; Powerful associations between drugs and drug-taking contexts play an important role in the development and maintenance of drug abuse and addiction, so a better understanding of these relationships will help us to develop novel approaches to breaking the addiction cycle and improving treatme nt.

Recent Publications:

Childs E, White T, de Wit H (In Press) Personality traits modulate emotional and physiological responses to acute stress. Behavioural Pharmacology. PMC Journal - In Process.

Childs E. (In Press) Energy drink ingredients: influence on mood and cognitive performance. Nutrition Reviews. PMC Journal - In Process.

Childs E, de Wit H. (2014) Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Frontiers in Physiology. 5:161. PMCID: PMC4013452.

Mayo L, Fraser D, Childs E, Momenan R, Hommer D, de Wit H, Heilig M (2013). Conditioned preference to a methamphetamine-associated contextual cue in humans. Neuropsychopharmacology. 38(6):921-9. PMCID: PMC3629404.

Childs E, de Wit H. (2013). Contextual conditioning enhances the psychostimulant and incentive properties of d-amphetamine+in humans. Addict Biol. 18(6):985-92. PMID: 22129527

Dlugos A, Childs E, Stuhr KL, Hillard CJ, de Wit H. (2012). Acute Stress Increases Circulating Anandamide and Other N-Acylethanolamines in Healthy Humans. Neuropsychopharmacology [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 22763622

Childs E, Roche DJO, King AC, de Wit H (2011). Varenicline potentiates alcohol-induced negative subjective responses and offsets impaired eye movements. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. PMID: 22339626

Stolerman IP, Childs E, Ford MM, Grant KA. (2011). The role of training dose in drug discrimination: a review. Behavioural Pharmacology. 22(5-6):415-29. PMID: 21808191

Childs E, O'Connor S, de Wit H. (2011). Bidirectional interactions between acute psychosocial stress and acute intravenous alcohol in healthy men. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 35(10). 1794-803. PMID: 21762177

Childs E, de Wit H. (2010). Effects of acute psychosocial stress upon cigarette craving and smoking. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 12(4):449-53. PMID: 20100807

Hamidovic A, Childs E, Conrad M, King A, de Wit H. (2010). Stress-induced changes in mood and cortisol release predict mood effects of amphetamine. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 109(1-3):175-80. PMID: 20176450

Childs E, Dlugos A, de Wit H. (2010). Cardiovascular, hormonal and emotional responses to the TSST in relation to sex and menstrual cycle phase. Psychophysiology. 47(3):550-9. PMID: 20070572

Roche D, Childs E, Epstein A, King A (2010). Acute HPA Axis Response to Naltrexone Differs in Female vs. Male Smokers. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 35(4):596-606. PMID: 19837518

Childs E, de Wit H. (2009). Amphetamine-Induced Place Preference in Humans. Biological Psychiatry. 65(10):900-4. PMID: 19111278

Childs E, de Wit H. (2009). Hormonal, cardiovascular, and subjective responses to acute stress in smokers. Psychopharmacology (Berlin). 203(1):1-12.PMID: 18936915

Childs E, Hohoff C, Deckert J, Ke X, Badner J, de Wit H. (2008). Association between A2A and D2 receptor gene polymorphisms and caffeine-induced anxiety. Neuropsychopharmacology 33(12):2791-800. PMID: 18305461