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2013-2014 Speaker Series

Processing Aggression, Fear and Reward: Effects of Development, Learning and Memory

"Processing Aggression, Fear and Reward: Effects of Development, Learning and Memory"

Abstract: Early psychosocial or environmental insult combined with genetic vulnerability can have long lasting consequences on development. Using an animal model of social subjugation and ethanol exposure, data will be presented showing childhood and early adolescence to be both vulnerable and resilient periods of development altering brain chemistry, neuroendocrinology and future behavior. As behavior is context dependent, perception of the environment plays a key role in approach and avoidance. Functional imaging data in awake animals will be presented on aggressive motivation and the non-genomic effects of stress hormone. The talk will close on the discussion of Fragile X Syndrome and dysfunction in reward processing as gleaned from imaging awake transgenic rats exposed to multiple environmental stimuli.

Thursday, October 10, 2013
4:15 p.m., 127 Moore Building

Promoting School Engagement to Reduce Disparities for Mexican American Youth

"Promoting School Engagement to Reduce Disparities for Mexican American Youth"

Abstract: The future well-being of our nation will be heavily influenced by the economic success, educational attainment, and health of the rapidly expanding U.S. Latino population, particularly young Latinos of Mexican origin. However, Mexican American youth face many barriers to success and integration within the U.S. In this talk, I propose that school engagement and the attainment of a high school degree are key targets for social policies and programs to reduce disparities for Mexican American youth. To illustrate, I will present findings from a randomized controlled trial of the Bridges to High School Program, a preventive intervention designed for middle school students in low-income communities, which demonstrated multiple long-term benefits for Mexican American adolescents. I will highlight key family and youth competencies that were targeted, the central role of school engagement, and evidence of differential program response based on acculturation.

Co-Sponsored with the Prevention Research Center

Dr. Gonzales is also presenting the BENNETT LECTURE:

Thursday, December 12, 2013
4:00 p.m., The Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building
"The Role of Culture in Prevention Science: Past Progress and Future Challenges"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
4:15 p.m., Nittany Lion Inn, Alumni Lounge

Are There Sensitive Periods for the Effects of Early Experience on Cognitive and Social Competence

"Are There Sensitive Periods for the Effects of Early Experience on Cognitive and Social Competence? Lessons from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project"

Abstract: Developmental psychologists and educators assume that early experiences shape the brain and neural circuitry for emerging cognitive and social behaviors over the first years of life. Most of the evidence for these assumptions is based on rodent and non-human primate animal research. Far less has been published on the effects of early experience that is not correlational in nature. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) is the first randomized trial of a family intervention for children who experienced significant psychosocial neglect early in their lives. A group of infants living in institutions in Romania were recruited and randomized to be taken out of the institution and placed into family/foster care homes or to remain in the institution. Follow up of these children occurred at 42 and 54 months of age and at 8 years of age. Multiple domains, including cognitive, socio-emotional, psychiatric, and brain imaging were assessed at each age. Three questions are posed in this study and this talk: first, are there lasting effects of early psychosocial deprivation as children develop over the school years. Second, is intervention successful in ameliorating deficits as a result of institutionalization. And third, are there sensitive periods in delivering the intervention that explain both success and failure to improve cognitive and socio-emotional behavior.

Thursday, January 16, 2014
The Child Study Center's 2013 Lois Bloom Lecture
4:15 p.m., Nittany Lion Inn, Ballroom A&B

U.S.-Korean cultural differences in the dynamics of parent-child interactions and sleep

"U.S.-Korean cultural differences in the dynamics of parent-child interactions and sleep"

Drs. Chung and Teti presented a discussion on possible U.S.-Korean cultural differences in the dynamics of parent-child interactions and sleep, and how the physical differences in bedrooms and beds might (or might not) change the nature of parent-child sleep interactions.  Cultural dynamics associated with parent-child sleep interactions were discussed, as well as research examining the cultural consonance vs. cultural dissonance in sleep arrangements, and its link with criticism mothers receive from others about non-traditional sleep arrangements and maternal worries about infant sleep.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
12:15 p.m., 127 Moore Building

One Is Good, Two Is Better

"One Is Good, Two Is Better: How Twins May (and Should) Help Us Redefine Gene-Environment Interplay and Developmental Health"

Abstract: The actual, and still prevalent, view in developmental research and theory is that the environment and the way we experience it play a decisive role in establishing inter-individual differences in cognitive and psychosocial development. For example, both attachment theory and social learning theories posit that early experiences within the family set the stage for future development. These experiences are often seen as shared to a significant extent by children of the same family. However, the empirical foundation on which this position is based is often questionable, especially when only one child per family is assessed. Twin studies, because they assess more than one child per family and provide means of disentangling genetic from environmental contributions, are well suited to test specific hypothesis about the nature and contribution of environmental factors. The presentation will highlight results from the Quebec Newborn Twin Study that challenge some of the common assumptions regarding the role of genetic and environmental factors in development. The significance of these findings with respect to theories of socialization will also be discussed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
4:15 p.m., 127 Moore Building

The Role of Social and Non-social Odors Across the Lifespan

"The Role of Social and Non-social Odors Across the Lifespan"

Abstract: Olfactory learning begins prior to birth, as the olfactory receptors in the fetus are exposed to odors from the mother’s body, her diet and environment and continues throughout life.  However, some of the most salient and emotional responses to olfactory cues arise from odors experienced early in life.  This talk will cover the biology and psychology of the olfactory system with a particular emphasis on how responses to both social and non-social odors are formed and how they influence emotions, cognition and behaviors.

Thursday, April 17, 2014
4:15 p.m., 127 Moore Building