Dr. Holt has studied the neural basis of psychosis throughout her career, initially in post-mortem samples and subsequently (since 2002) using neuroimaging. Using functional neuroimaging in combination with physiology, behavioral tasks and clinical assessments, she has investigated the neurocognitive basis of the core symptoms of psychotic illness, including delusions, negative affect and social impairment, reporting some of the first evidence for abnormalities in basic mechanisms that underlie emotional perception (e.g. fear extinction memory, fear generalization, response to perceptual threat) in psychotic illness.

Recently Dr. Holt’s group has also focused on identifying changes in brain function and behavior linked with risk for serious mental illness and has been developing novel interventions aimed at increasing resilience and potentially preventing serious mental illnesses in at-risk youth. Dr. Holt also serves as Co-Director of the MGH Schizophrenia Clinical and Research Program, which includes a First-Episode and Early Psychosis Program (FEPP) focused on comprehensive treatment of psychosis in the earliest phases of illness.


PhD in Neurobiology, University of Chicago
MD, University of Chicago

Select Publications

1. Holt DJ, Kunkel L, Weiss AP, Goff DC, Wright CI, Shin LM, Rauch SL, Hootnick J, Heckers S. Increased medial temporal lobe activation during the passive viewing of emotional and neutral facial expressions in schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2006 Feb 28;82(2-3):153-62.

2. Holt DJ, Coombs G, Zeidan MA, Goff DC, Milad MR. Failure of neural responses to safety cues in schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;69(9):893-903.

3. Ho NF, Iglesias JE, Sum MY, Kuswanto CN, Sitoh YY, De Souza J, Hong Z, Fischl  B, Roffman JL, Zhou J, Sim K, Holt DJ. Progression from selective to general involvement of hippocampal subfields in schizophrenia. Mol Psychiatry. 2017 Jan;22(1):142-152.


2018: MGH Scholar Award recipient, MGH Executive Committee on Research (ECOR)