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NIH awards UCI $10 million to study early-life origins of adolescent mental disorders
Date:6/11/2013

als enhance cognitive and emotional development. In contrast, fragmented and unpredictable maternal care might have the opposite effect. Additionally, a study that tracked a cohort of mothers during pregnancy and then with their babies for a few years seemed to confirm this idea.

To connect these discoveries and their impact on adolescent cognitive behaviors, UC Irvine's Conte Center on Brain Programming in Mental Disorders will combine neurobiological and molecular research with animals, behavioral research with children, and neuroimaging and computational statistical analyses. Its goal is to create a comprehensive picture of maternal influences, childhood cognitive and emotional development, and brain structure to help identify children who may be vulnerable to adolescent mental health disorders and to help establish more effective treatments.

Center collaborators include the following:

  • Baram will investigate in rodent models how brain cells recognize patterns of maternal signals and how this influences the cellular machinery to change the expression of important genes throughout life.

  • Dr. Curt Sandman, professor emeritus of psychiatry & human behavior, and Elysia Poggi Davis, associate professor of psychiatry & human behavior, will examine the effect of frequent changes in maternal mood, including anxiety and depression, on the fetus during pregnancy. They will also track mothers and their infants after birth to determine whether inconsistency between fetal and neonatal maternal signals contributes significantly to later emotional and cognitive development. Davis will gauge stability in the patterns and sequences of maternal care in infancy and childhood and the impact of these patterns on brain structure and cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities during adolescence.

  • Steven Small, professor and chair of neurology, and Ana Solodkin, associate professor of anatomy & neurobio
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Contact: Tom Vasich
tmvasich@uci.edu
949-824-6455
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

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