BiographyDr. Wierenga received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology from the University of Florida (2005) and completed a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCSD from 2005 to 2007. She then joined the UCSD faculty, funded by a Career Development Award (CDA-2) from the VA. She is currently an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD and a Research Psychologist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System. She is the Principal Investigator on a VA Merit award to study cognitive and brain changes in preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and is an active member of the UCSD Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Center. She also serves as faculty in the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and the UCSD Clinical Psychology APA approved Internship.
Research InterestsDr. Wierenga’s program of research focuses on the study of the neural substrates of cognition in clinical populations (e.g., eating disorders, dementia-risk) using neuropsychological and functional MRI techniques. A primary emphasis of her lab involves the characterization of cognitive and brain changes in healthy aging and older adults at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD), using innovative functional MRI, arterial spin labeling, and neuropsychological methods to understand neurovascular changes in aging and disease, with the goal of identifying biomarkers and improving early detection of AD. She is also involved in neuroimaging and neuropsychological research examining the neurobiology of eating disorders, with an emphasis on altered neurocircuitry underlying cognitive control, reward processing, and interoceptive awareness.
Clinical FocusDr. Wierenga is a CA licensed Clinical Psychologist. She is a member of UCSD’s Neuropsychological Associates, where she conducts clinical neuropsychological evaluations of children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including neurodevelopmental disorders, head injury, dementia, and other disorders of aging. She is also a member of the UCSD Eating Disorder Treatment and Research Program, where she supervises clinical trainees in the Adolescent Program.