The Neurocardiac Effects of Stress & Trauma (NEST) Laboratory is housed within the MGH Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center (CIRC). The NEST Lab seeks to understand alterations in the brain-heart connection that arise from stressful or traumatic experiences. PTSD is widely known to be associated with heightened risk for cardiovascular disease and dysfunction, yet the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unclear. With our collaborators in CIRC, the NEST Lab uses techniques in imaging (e.g., FDG-PET) and psychophysiology (e.g., heart rate variability) to probe these mechanisms, as well as measurement of renin-angiotensin system activity and inflammatory processes (e.g., vascular inflammation, leukopoiesis, IL-6 levels). 


Another goal of Dr. Seligowski’s research is to understand sex and gender differences in PTSD and cardiovascular disease. Women are more than two times as likely as men to receive a diagnosis of PTSD, and cardiovascular disease is known to have sex and gender effects. Estradiol has been shown to be a protective factor in both PTSD and cardiovascular disease, pointing to the significance of gonadal hormones in understanding sex and gender differences in these disorders. Thus, Dr. Seligowski’s research also seeks to characterize the different pathways by which men versus women with PTSD experience cardiovascular risk.


An ongoing study in the NEST Lab aims to probe the brain-heart connection in PTSD by examining neurophysiological, psychophysiological, and cardiovascular function measures (e.g., endothelial function). This study also aims to characterize the effects of gonadal hormones on these measures. A new study will test the impact of PTSD treatment on mechanisms implicated in cardiovascular risk.

Current Funding

2021 – 2026   

National Institutes of Health (1K23MH125920)

"A multi-modal investigation of neurophysiological deficits in PTSD"

Seligowski PI

2023 – 2024   

National Institutes of Health (3K23MH125920-03W1) – sex and gender administrative supplement

"A multi-modal investigation of neurophysiological deficits in PTSD"

Seligowski PI


2023 – 2026   

American Heart Association (23SCISA1143491)

"Impact of cognitive behavioral therapy on inflammatory & autonomic function in patients with PTSD & cardiovascular risk"

Seligowski Co-I


2022 2026   

Department of Defense

"Discovering DIagnostics, SubtypEs, and NaTurAl history of traumatic brain iNjury (TBI) vs. non-TBI Recovery to Gain MiLitary advantagE – the D2ISENTANGLE Focused Program Award"

Seligowski Co-I for McLean site