Entrance to building with a bicycle and blooming tulips

Ann Polcari


Director, Psychiatric Mental Health Program; Associate Clinical Professor


Research Interests

Child and adolescent mental health; enduring effects of childhood trauma on adults; protective factors, depression and well-being in young adults


Dr. Polcari teaches in the School of Nursing, and directs the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at Northeastern University, Boston MA. Graduates from the Program contribute to the behavioral health workforce to provide culturally competent psychiatric care to vulnerable children, adolescents and adults with, or at risk for, mental illness, or substance misuse. During her career, she practiced as a psychiatric RN, then an Advance Practice Board Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist for Adult, and Child/Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health specialties. She currently has a private psychiatric practice treating children, adolescents, and adults.

Dr. Polcari’s research career focused on developmental risks and protective factors that contribute to anxiety, depression and behavioral health problems in children, adolescents and young adults, particularly related to parenting influences that prevent or promote recovery from childhood stress and adversity. Much of her practice and research activities were at McLean Hospital, Belmont MA, over 30 years that included a long-term affiliation with a multidisciplinary team of allied research professionals. She and the McLean team contributed to the growing body of knowledge of how early abuse exerts persistent deleterious effects on brain development, and, how protective factors mediate those effects.

Since coming to Northeastern University School of Nursing, she completed an intervention feasibility study designed to modify cognitive consequences of early emotional stress that lead to later mental health risks, and lead HRSA workforce expansion.

Selected Publications

Kahn, A., McCormack, H., Bolger, E., Vitaliano, G., McGreenery, C., Polcari, A. & Teicher, M. (2015) Childhood Maltreatment, Depression and Suicidal Ideation: Critical Importance of Parental and Peer Emotional Abuse During Developmental Sensitive Periods in Males and Females. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2015.0004.

Teicher, M., Ohashi, K., Lowen, S., Polcari, A., Fitzmaurice, G. (2015) Mood Dysregulation and Affective Instability in Young Adults with Histories of Childhood Maltreatment: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 70 doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.08.012.

Polcari A, Rabi K, Bolger E, Teicher MH.  (2014) Parental verbal affection and verbal aggression in childhood deferentially influence psychiatric symptoms and well-being in young adulthood.  Child Abuse & Neglect:  38(1):91-102 URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24268711.

Teicher MH, Anderson CM, Ohashi K, Polcari A. (2013) Childhood maltreatment: altered network centrality of cingulate, precuneus, temporal pole and insula.  Biological Psychiatry; 76(4). URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24209775.

Tomoda A, Sheu Y-S, Rabi K, Suzuki H, Navalta CP, Polcari A, Teicher MH. (2011) Exposure to parental verbal abuse is associated with increased gray matter volume in superior temporal gyrus. Neuroimage, 54 Suppl 1: 260-8. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2950228/.

Teicher MH, Samson JA, Sheu Y-S, Polcari A, McGreenery CE. (2010) Hurtful words: Exposure to peer verbal aggression is associated with elevated psychiatric symptom scores and corpus callosum abnormalities.  American Journal of Psychiatry , 167(10): 1464-71. URL:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246683/.

Choi J, Jeong B, Rohan ML, Polcari A. M., Teicher MH. (2009 ) Preliminary evidence for white matter tract abnormalities in young adults exposed to parental verbal abuse. Biological Psychiatry. 65(3):227-234. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2652864.

Teicher MH, Polcari A, McGreenery CE. Utility of objective measures of activity and attention in the assessment of therapeutic response to stimulants in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jun;18(3):265-70.

Teicher MH, Polcari A, Foley M, Valente E, McGreenery CE, Chang WW, McKay G, Midha KK. Methylphenidate blood levels and therapeutic response in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: I. Effects of different dosing regimens. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2006 Aug;16(4):416-31.

Teicher MH, Samson JA, Polcari A, McGreenery CE. (2006) Sticks, stones, and hurtful words: Relative effects of various forms of childhood maltreatment. American Journal of Psychiatry. 163:993-1000. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16741199.


Polcari, A. (2015-2017). Impact of Emotional Abuse on Cognition and the Default Brain Network in Depression. Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (formerly Narsad). Funding Period: 1/15/2015 to 1/14/2017.

Polcari, A. (2014 – 2017). Project Director: Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Professionals. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Funding Period: 9/30/2014 to 9/29/2017.