Megan M. Herting

Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine

Megan M. Herting

Research Topics

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI, structural MRI, diffusion MRI)
  • Cognitive and behavioral assessments
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Environmental exposures
  • Hormones and sex differences
  • Physical activity

Research Images

A designated coronal slice of white matter tracts using diffusion MRI and tractography in our laboratorySchematic of longitudinal multi-level modeling methods we use to understand trajectories of brain and behavior in children and adolescents. From Herting, Gautum, Vetter. Test-retest reliability of longitudinal fMRI - implications for developmental studies (Under-Review).Brain activity patterns (fMRI) when learning new memories is different in high versus low-fit adolescents. From Herting and Nagel (2013) J Cogn Neurosci.Structural segmentation of brain volumes in a child (yellow - nucleus accumbens; red - amygdala).

Research Overview

The overall mission of my laboratory is to understand how endogenous and exogenous factors may influence neural and cognitive development across childhood and adolescence. On-going research projects include:

1) Investigating the role of sex hormones during prenatal and pubertal development on brain-behavior outcomes in children and adolescents

2) Examining the influence of prenatal and early life environmental factors (e.g. chemicals, air pollution, physical activity) on neurodevelopment and cognition

3) Identifying preclinical indicators of risk for neurodevelopment and mental health disorders

To answer these questions, we use neurocognitive assessments and various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, including structural MRI, functional MRI (fMRI), resting-state functional connectivity (rs-fcMRI), and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). Whenever possible, we aim to take a translational approach to behavioral neuroscience, including remaining well-informed about basic science and implementing behavioral methods that may be easily linked between humans and animal models.

Contact Information

Mailing Address 2001 N Soto
Office Location Rm 225N
Office Phone
Lab Location Soto Building
Lab Phone
Office Location Rm 225N



  • B.S., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D., Oregon Health & Science University
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Selected Publications

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  • Herting, M.M., Sowell, E.R. (2017) Puberty and structural brain development in humans. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 44:122-137. PubMed
  • Herting, M.M., Kim, R., Binley, A.F., Uban, K.A., Kan, E., Sowell, E.R. (2017) Longitudinal changes in puberty and white matter microstructure. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 81:70-79. PubMed
  • Tamnes, C., Herting, M.M., Goddings, A., Meuwese, R., Blakemore, S., Dahl, R.E., Guroglu, B., Raznahan, A., Sowell, E.R., Crone, E.A., Mills, K.L. (2017) Development of the cerebral cortex across adolescence: A multisample study of interrelated longitudinal changes in cortical volume, surface area, and thickness. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(12):3402-3412. PubMed
  • Herting MM, Gautam P, Spielberg JM, Dahl RE, Sowell ER (2015) A longitudinal study: changes in cortical thickness and surface area during pubertal maturation. PLoS One. 10(3):e0119774. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Gautam P, Spielberg JM, Kan E, Dahl RE, Sowell ER (2014) The role of testosterone and estradiol in brain volume changes across adolescence: a longitudinal structural MRI study. Hum Brain Mapp. 35(11):5633-45. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Maxwell EC, Irvine C, Nagel BJ (2012) The impact of sex, puberty, and hormones on white matter microstructure in adolescents. Cereb Cortex. 22(9):1979-92. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Keenan MF, Nagel BJ (2016) Aerobic Fitness Linked to Cortical Brain Development in Adolescent Males: Preliminary Findings Suggest a Possible Role of BDNF Genotype. Front Hum Neurosci. 30;10:327. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Colby JB, Sowell ER, Nagel BJ (2014) White matter connectivity and aerobic fitness in male adolescents. Dev Cogn Neurosci. 7:65-75. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Nagel BJ (2013) Differences in brain activity during a verbal associative memory encoding task in high- and low-fit adolescents. J Cogn Neurosci. 25(4):595-612. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Nagel BJ. (2012) Aerobic fitness relates to learning on a virtual Morris Water Task and hippocampal volume in adolescents. Behav Brain Res. 233(2):517-25.  PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Fair D, Nagel BJ (2011) Altered fronto-cerebellar connectivity in alcohol-naïve youth with a family history of alcoholism. Neuroimage. 54(4):2582-9. PubMed Link
  • Herting MM, Schwartz D, Mitchell SH, Nagel BJ (2010) Delay discounting behavior and white matter microstructure abnormalities in youth with a family history of alcoholism. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 34(9):1590-602. PubMed Link