Anjanette Harris (Anjie)

I study behaviour in rodent models of autism and intellectual disability.

Dr Anjanette Harris

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Hugh Robson Building

15 George Square

Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

 Work: +44 (0) 131 650 2866


 Web: Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain


Personal profile

  • 2018 - Present: post-doctoral researcher, Simons Initiative for the Developing Brain, University of Edinburgh.
  • 2009 - 2018: post-doctoral researcher, Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, QMRI, University of Edinburgh.
  • 2005 - 2008: PhD candidate, Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Kings Buildings, University of Edinburgh.
  • 2002 - 2005: Research assistant, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, Kings buildings, University of Edinburgh.
  • 1998 - 2002: BSc, Hons Zoology, University of Edinburgh.


There are several different genetic mutations that associate with the development of autism and  intellectual disability in humans (e.g. Fragile X Syndrome, SYNGAP1 haploinsufficiency). To investigate the behavioural consequences of these genetic mutations, we study behaviour in rat models of these monogenic disorders in our custom built Habitat housing system. The Habitat comprises of multiple compartments (up to 16, each with its own camera) that are interconnected via e.g. tubes/ladders and can house up to 60 rats. This housing system allows close and prolonged scrutiny of natural behaviours and can reveal phenotypes that would otherwise be missed in standardised housing. 


Martis, L-S., Wiborg, O., Holmes, M. C. and Harris A. P.  (2019) BDNF +/− rats exhibit depressive phenotype and altered expression of genes relevant in mood disorders. Genes Brain and Behavior.

Wheelan, N., KenyonC. J., Harris, A. P., CairnsC., DujailiE. A., Seckl, J. R., & Yau, J.  (2018) Midlife stress causes enduring changes in memory and emotion into early old age: the key role of glucocorticoids. Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Kanatsou, S., Karst, H., Kortesidou, D., Van den Akker, R., Den Blaauwen, J., Harris, A P., Seckl, J.,  Krugers, H. J. and  Joels, M. (2017) Overexpression of mineralocorticoid receptors in the mouse forebrain partly alleviates the effects of chronic early life stress on spatial memory, neurogenesis and synaptic function in the dentate gyrus. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00132.

Caughey, S., Harris, A. P., Seckl, J., Holmes, M., Yau, J. (2016) Forebrain-specific transgene rescue of 11β-HSD1 associates with impaired spatial memory and reduced hippocampal BDNF mRNA levels in aged 11β-HSD1 deficient mice. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. doi: 10.1111/jne.12447.

Harris, A. P., Lennen, R., Brydges, N., Jansen, M., Pernet, C., Whalley, H., Marshall, I., Baker, S., Basso, A., Day, M., Holmes, M. & Hall, J., (2016) The role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in learned fear processing: an awake fMRI study. Genes, Brain and Behavior. 15, 221-30.

Kanatsou S, Kuil L, Arp M, Oitzl M S, Harris A. P., Seckl J R, Krugers H J, & Joels M (2015). Overexpression of mineralocorticoid receptors does not affect memory and anxiety-like behavior in female mice.  Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00182. 

Kanatsou S, Feary B, Kuil L, Lucassen, P., Harris A. P., Seckl J.R, Krugers H, Joels M (2015) Overexpression of mineralocorticoid receptors partially prevents chronic stress-induced reductions in hippocampal memory and structural plasticity. PLOS One. 10 (12). 

Harris, A. P., Lennen, R., Marshal, I., Jansen, M., Pernet, C., Brydges, N., Duguid, I. & Holmes, M. (2015) Imaging conditioned fear circuitry in mice: an awake fMRI study. European Journal of Neuroscience. 42, 2125-2134 .

Brydges N. M, Holmes, M.C., Cardinal, R., Harris A. P., & Hall J.  (2015) Early life stress produces compulsive-like but not impulsive behavior in female rats. Behavioral Neurosciences. 129, 300-308.

Wyrwoll C, Harris A. P. & Holmes M. C (2015) Prenatal programming by glucocorticoids. Book Chapter in The Neurobiology of Stress.

Harris, A.P., Holmes, M. C., De Kloet E. R., Chapman, K. E. & Seckl, J. R (2013) Mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptor balance in control of HPA axis and behaviour. Pyschoneuroendocrinology. 38, 648-658 

Harris, A.P., & Seckl, J.  (2011) Glucocorticoids, prenatal stress and the programming of disease. Hormones and Behavior, 59, 279-289. 

Papers during PhD:

Harris, A.P., D’Eath, R.B. & Healy, S.D (2010) A cage without a view increases stress and impairs cognitive performance in rats. Animal Welfare. 19, 235-241.

Healy, S.D., Bacon, I.E., Haggis, O., Harris, A.P. & Kelley, L.A (2009) Explanations for variation in cognitive ability: behavioural ecology meets comparative cognition. Behavioural Processes. 80, 288-294.

Harris, A.P., D’Eath. R. B. & Healy, S.D (2009) Environmental enrichment enhances spatial cognition in rats by reducing thigmotaxis (wall-hugging) during testing. Animal Behaviour 77, 1459-1464.

Harris, A.P., D’Eath. R.B. & Healy, S.D (2008) Sex differences, or not, in spatial cognition: acute stress is the key. Animal Behaviour. 76, 1579-1589 

Harris, A.P., D’Eath. R.B. & Healy, S.D (2008) Sex differences in spatial cognition are not caused by isolation housing. Behaviour. 145, 757-778.