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Elizabeth Shirtcliff

"Growing Up is Hard to Do: A Biomarker Perspective on Development"

Abstract: Dr. Shirtcliff obtained her PhD in biobehavioral health from Penn State in 2003 and has gone on to conduct developmental psychobiology research on adolescent health and wellbeing. The talk will explore the functional role of common biomarkers in the body – including cortisol, testosterone, and oxytocin – and will examine whether the purpose of these biomarkers changes across the lifespan, particularly during the developmental switchpoint of adolescence. For example, rather than view cortisol as a “stress hormone”, Dr. Shirtcliff will describe cortisol as a biomarker which allows the individual to be more open to salient social cues in their environment. Across development, cortisol will continue to serve that function, but the meaning of “salient” is thought to shift away from parents, toward internal self-regulation, and eventually toward romantic partners. This functional role of these biomarkers will then be framed further in a life history perspective, by considering how early adversity alters the timing and tempo of a suite of maturational events that are influenced by these hormonal biomarkers.

Thursday, January 25, 2018 
4:15 p.m., 127 Moore Building