Contact Information

T: (858) 534-8047
F: (858) 534-8316


Dr. 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 Interests

Research Focus

Dr. 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 Focus

Dr. 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.


  • Wierenga , C.E., Hays, C., Zlatar, Z.Z. (in press). Cerebral blood flow measured by arterial spin labeling MRI as a preclinical marker of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Bischoff-Grethe, A., Melrose, J., Grenesko-Stevens, E., Irvine, L., Wagner, A., Simmons, A., Matthews, S., Yau, W-Y.W., Fennema-Notestine, C., Kaye, W. (2014). Altered BOLD response during inhibitory and error processing in adolescents with anorexia nervosa. PLoS ONE. 9(3); e92017
  • Zlatar, Z.Z., Wierenga, C.E., Bangen, K.J., Liu, T.T., Jak, A.J. (2014). Increased hippocampal blood flow in sedentary older adults at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Wierenga, C.E., Clark, L.R., Dev, S.I., Shin, D., Jurick, S., Rissman, R., Liu, T.T., & Bondi, M.W. (2013). Interaction of age and APOE genotype on cerebral blood flow at rest. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 34, 921-935.
  • Nation, D.A., Wierenga, C.E., Clark, L.R., Dev, S.I., Stricker, N.H., Jak, A.J., Salmon, D.P., Delano-Wood, L., Liu, T.T., Bondi, M.W. (2013). Cortical and subcortical cerebrovascular resistance index in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 36, 689-98.
  • Kaye, W.H., Wierenga, C.E., Bailer, U.F., Simmons, A.N., Bischoff-Grethe, A. (2013). Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels: The neurobiology of anorexia nervosa. Trends in Neurosciences, 36, 110-20.
  • Kaye, W.H., Wierenga, C.E., Bailer, U.F., Simmons, A.N., Wagner, A., & Bischoff-Grethe, A. (2013). Does a shared neurobiology for foods and drugs of abuse contribute to extremes of food ingestion in anorexia and bulimia nervosa? Biological Psychiatry, 73, 836-42.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Dev, S.I., Shin, D.D., Clark, L.R., Bangen, K.J., Jak, A.J., Rissman, R.A., Liu, T.T., Salmon, D.P. & Bondi, M.W. (2012). Effect of mild cognitive impairment and APOE genotype on resting cerebral blood flow and its association with cognition. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 32, 1589-99.
  • Weissberger, G.H., Wierenga, C.E., Bondi, M.W., & Gollan, T.H. (2012). Partially overlapping mechanisms of language and task control in young and older bilinguals. Psychology and Aging, 27, 959-74.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Stricker, N.H., McCauley, A., Simmons, A., Jak, A.J., Chang, Y-L, Nation, D.A., Bangen, K.J., Salmon, D.P., Bondi, M.W. (2011). Altered brain response for semantic knowledge in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychologia, 49, 392-404.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Stricker, N.H., McCauley, A., Simmons, A., Jak, A.J., Chang, Y-L, Delano-Wood, L., Bangen, K.J., Salmon, D.P., Bondi, M.W. (2010). Increased functional brain response during word retrieval in cognitively intact older adults at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroImage, 51, 1222-33.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Perlstein, W.M., Benjamin, M., Leonard, C., Gonzalez Rothi, L., Conway, T., Cato, M.A., Gopinath, K., Briggs, R., Crosson, B. (2009). Neural substrates of object identification: fMRI evidence that category and visual attribute contribute to semantic knowledge. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 15, 169-181.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Benjamin, M., Gopinath, K., Perlstein, W.M., Leonard, C., Gonzalez Rothi, L.J., Conway, T., Cato, M.A., Briggs, R., & Crosson, B. (2008). Age-related changes in word retrieval: Role of bilateral frontal and subcortical networks. Neurobiology of Aging, 29, 436-451.
  • Wierenga, C.E., Bondi, M.W. (2007). Use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in early identification of Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropsychology Review, 17,127-143.