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Early Experiences and Emotional Brain Development

by Nim Tottenham, PhD
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 R-CERP, 1 Nurse Contact Hours, 1 CME, 0.1 Midwifery CEU, 1 ACM CPD Hours, 1 AMS CPD
  • Handout: Yes

Human brain development is very slow, but there is value to this slow pace. This pace maximizes the chances for learning from developmental experiences (for example, caregiving by parents) and by doing so, developing highly sophisticated emotional behaviors by adulthood. Brain circuitry involving the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) support fundamental aspects of emotional behavior (learning about, responding to, and regulating emotions), and in this talk, I will present studies that describe their development, including functional magnetic resonance imaging data showing age-related changes in amygdala-mPFC circuitry. I argue that the development of this circuitry in humans is intimately associated with caregiving, such that parents exert significant and enduring neural modulation during development.

The findings presented are highly consistent with the animal literature showing both large changes in amygdala-mPFC circuitry throughout development, as well as the large influence of parental care in shaping this neural circuitry. This talk will focus on both typical development as well as development following caregiving-related stress showing that early life environments may influence development through learning and modification of developmental trajectories. These age-related changes will be discussed in terms of potential developmental sensitive periods for environmental influence.

Learning Objectives:

1. Explain the neurobiology of emotional processes across development.
2. Compare how early social environments shape brain development.
3. Describe 3 potential effects of caregiving-related stress on brain development.

Categories: Brain/Neurodevelopment,
Lectures by Profession, Product Focus
Presentations: 9  |  Hours / CE Credits: 7  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks