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Nim Tottenham

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Columbia University
Title: Early experiences and cortical-subcortical brain development in humans
Presentation Abstract :

Signals in the early environment are potent effectors of brain development. Perturbations in early typical/species-expected experiences, such as parental caregiving, are known to have profound effects on the development of neurocircuitry involved in affective learning and regulation (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex). This talk will focus on both typical development as well as development following caregiver deprivation (e.g., institutional care in infancy), showing that early life caregiving adversity may accelerate development of this circuitry. The findings presented are highly consistent with the animal literature showing both large changes in amygdala-PFC-hippocampal circuitry throughout development, as well as the large influence of parental care in shaping this neural circuitry. These age-related changes will be discussed in terms of potential developmental sensitive periods for environmental influence.


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