PRESIDENT’S SYMPOSIUM: EARLY CROSS-TALK BETWEEN THE BIOLOGY OF STRESS AND OVERNUTRITION: BRIDGING PRE-CLINICAL ANIMAL MODELS AND HUMAN COHORTS
Presenters: Brie Reid, PhD, Chair and Presenter; Megan Paulsen, MD; Mariann Howland; Patricia Silveira, MD, PhD; Megan Gunnar, PhD, Discussant
Keywords: stress physiology, developmental origins, overnutrition, translational
Cardiometabolic and psychopathological conditions exhibit high rates of co-morbidity and are often related to early environmental adversity exposures. The development of stress-sensitive systems has been the focus of research connecting environmental adversity to long-term mental and physical health. Though long acknowledged, less attention has been paid to the interacting nutritional physiological processes that both influence and respond to stress-sensitive systems. In this symposium, we will explore biobehavioral mechanisms underlying the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis and gene network signaling across development. Beginning with a rodent model that spans prenatally into adulthood, Dr. Megan Paulsen will present her work exploring sex-specific links between a translational model of prenatal maternal overnutrition and offspring trajectories of hypothalamic glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Dr. Brie Reid will echo and extend that work in humans, examining how the interaction of financial adversity and maternal overnutrition alongside maternal HPA-axis profiles are associated with newborn cortisol reactivity. Next, Mariann Howland will show how maternal pregnancy HPA-axis activity relates to gestational weight gain and obesity risk among women and their children. Directly connecting preclinical animal models and human cohort studies, Dr. Patricia Silveira presents research that draws on rodent model gene networks to predict risk for cardiometabolic and psychopathology comorbidities in children and adults after exposure to adversity. The innovative work presented in this symposium cuts across several domains and uses human and rodent models to bring forth insights on new avenues for research on the developmental origins of health and disease. This symposium will feature top-notch female researchers, 3 of which are early-career, and 2 of which are new to ISDP. Finally, Dr. Megan Gunnar will serve as a discussant of this symposium that crosses disciplinary boundaries in scope, research species, and background to bring a promising discussion on the interaction of nutrition and stress-sensitive systems to members of ISDP.
MECHANISMS OF DEVELOPMENTAL PLASTICITY: FROM FIRST BREATH TO ADOLESCENT COGNITION
Presenters: Bryan Kolb, Janice Juraska, Michele Brumley, Co-Chair, Jessica Whitaker-Fornek, Tania Roth, Chair
Throughout development, animals incur rapid changes in their body, brain, environment, and life experiences. Plasticity in different regions of the nervous system supports developmental changes in behavior across ontogeny, providing a rich substrate for continual adaptation to the environment. In this symposium we explore mechanisms of developmental plasticity in animal models, highlighting various periods in the development of behavior and across different species. In the first presentation, Dr. Bryan Kolb will discuss mechanisms of adaptive developmental plasticity, with a focus on the cerebral cortex. Next, Dr. Janice Juraska will examine neuronal changes in the rat prefrontal cortex associated with cognitive development during adolescence. Dr. Michele Brumley will explore behavioral epigenetic changes in the spinal cord of rats supporting developmental changes in motor behavior, from the neonatal through adolescent period. Finally, Dr. Jessica Whitaker-Fornek will discuss her work on age-dependent shifts in breathing circuits in the hindbrain of zebra finch embryos. Collectively, this symposium will highlight various mechanisms of plasticity using different animal preparations and systems (i.e., in vitro and vivo, brain and spinal, mammal and bird) throughout crucial developmental periods. Dr. Tania Roth will serve
as the symposium discussant, facilitating conversation on how we can use animal
models to inform our understanding of how the CNS adapts to environmental conditions during ontogeny. This symposium will bridge research at multiple levels in a way that is consistent with the purpose of the ISDP. Research will be integrated across multiple species, multiple developmental time points, multiple research techniques and levels of analysis, and across different developmental systems.
CAPTURING HETEROGENEITY IN RODENT AND HUMAN SOCIAL BEHAVIOR IN
“REAL WORLD” SETTINGS
Chair: Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Discussant: Nathan A. Fox
Presenters: Sonia Cavigelli, Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Louis Schmidt, Santiago Morales
Keywords: Temperament, social behavior, animal models, mobile technology, ecological validity
Session Description: Recent events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced researchers to be less reliant on single, in-laboratory tasks, to capture complex constructs of interest. There is clearly a need to capture complex and nuanced behavior across contexts to improve the ecological validity of behavioral measurement. This symposium presents four approaches to innovative measurement of behavior in context. The presentations share a focus on temperamental fear, as this construct can be captured across species and is known to impact functioning across the life span. Presentation One uses a rodent model of behavioral inhibition using a multi-task approach to extract stable behavioral profiles. This presentation illustrates the necessity to move away from single-task assessments. Presentation Two uses mobile eye-tracking to assess attention across multiple contexts, noting variation between overt behavior and in-the-moment attention patterns. The next two presentations move out of the lab to capture real-world neural and emotional functioning. Presentation Three captures temperament-linked variation in EEG, captured with mobile technology in the hospital, as children await surgery. Presentation Four uses ecological momentary analysis (EMA) to capture daily fluctuation in emotion with family and peers as a function of early temperament. Finally, the discussant will suggest needed next steps to best capture real-world variation in constructs of interest.
THE EMERGING PARENTAL BRAIN: LONGITUDINAL RESEARCH ON PARENTS’ PRENATAL NEUROBIOLOGY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR POSTPARTUM CAREGIVING BEHAVIOR
Presenters: Sofia Cardenas, Co-hair and Presenter; Magdalena Martínez García, Co-chair and Presenter; Emilia Cardenas, Sarah Peoples, Madelon M.E. Riem
Keywords: Parental brain; parents; neurobiology; caregiving
The transition to parenthood is a period of profound hormonal and neural changes in both mothers and fathers, and these changes may support postpartum parenting behaviors. Despite the importance of parental caregiving to child development, research on the parental brain is still nascent. For instance, most studies exploring the parental brain have focused on the postnatal period. Fewer prospective studies have examined neurobiological changes in parents beginning in the prenatal period. The present symposium comprises five studies linking neurobiology in expectant mothers and fathers with subsequent parenting-relevant outcomes, providing essential insight into the prenatal neurobiological changes and predictors of postpartum parenting behavior. These studies provide understanding into prenatal to postpartum changes in mothers’ neural responses to infant cry (Presentation 1), mothers’ brain structure (Presentation 2), and fathers’ resting-state connectivity (Presentation 3). These studies also explore how expectant mothers’ and fathers’ prenatal stress (Presentation 4) as well as fathers’ prenatal theory of mind processing (Presentation 5) both impact postpartum outcomes. Two studies focus on mothers, two on fathers, and one study incorporates both mothers and fathers. All studies include at least one prenatal assessment along with longitudinal follow-up into the postpartum period. These studies feature an international (i.e., Spain, Netherlands, USA) cohort of researchers, and many studies are led by trainees, who represent the next generation of researchers in their fields. These researchers employ overlapping neuroimaging methods (3 use magnetic resonance imaging, 2 use event-related potentials) to examine neurobiological themes, including parents’ neural response to infant stimuli and the predictive value of prenatal brain activity on infant outcomes. The studies in this symposium collectively provide unique insights into emerging parent neurobiology and point to the prenatal period as a formative time for parents’ development.
BIOLOGICAL EMBEDDING OF CHILDHOOD ADVERSITY ACROSS GENERATIONS: CONVERGING EVIDENCE ACROSS DEVELOPMENT
Presenters: Anaïs F. Stenson, Co-chair and presenter; Cassandra Hendrix, Co-chair and presenter; Marion van den Heuvel, Alyssa Lindrose
Keywords: prenatal stress, childhood adversity, intergenerational transmission,
A growing body of non-human animal work shows robust associations between maternal preconception adversity and offspring behavior and physiology. Recent human studies also suggest that early maternal stress impacts children, but it remains unclear how and when this transmission happens. This symposium will present a serious of talks examining how maternal childhood experiences shape neurobiological development from the fetal period through early adolescence. Beginning prenatally, Dr. Marion van den Heuvel will present results demonstrating that maternal childhood maltreatment is associated with altered fetal amygdala resting state functional connectivity (RSFC), suggesting that intergenerational transmission of adversity may begin even prior to birth. These results are extended in Dr. Cassandra Hendrix’s presentation, which will examine how different types of maternal childhood adversity impact the development of frontoamygdala RSFC in newborns. In Dr. Anaïs Stenson’s presentation, she will present findings that indicate persistent effects of maternal childhood trauma on frontoamygdala RSFC in middle childhood and early adolescence. Surprisingly, given these robust and replicated impacts on the functional connectome, Alyssa Lindrose will present work from a large infant cohort that suggests maternal childhood adversity is not linked to infants’ telomere length or cortisol reactivity. The panelists will discuss the different pathways through which maternal childhood adversity may be exerting effects on child neurocircuitry at different developmental stages. Importantly, all four presentations examine the biological embedding of adversity across generations in Black families, who are disproportionally exposed to childhood adversity but who remain underrepresented in developmental neuroscience research.
EXPERIENCES AND KNOWLEDGE: HOW DO EPISODIC MEMORY DEVELOP AND INTERACT
Presenters: Elliott Johnson, Chair and presenter; Zoe Ngo, Layla Unger, Erika Wharton-Shukster
Topics to be Addressed: Memory, Learning
Episodic and semantic memory have traditionally been viewed as separate constructs. Episodic memory involves retaining information about events occurring within unique spatio-temporal contexts (e.g., I saw a colorful bird outside my house yesterday); semantic memory emphasizes decontextualized factual knowledge (e.g., birds are related to dinosaurs). However, it is unclear how these kinds of memory relate to each other, or what the exact dividing line is. The work
presented in this symposium brings together two researchers from each of the fields to examine questions relevant to both. First, to what extent are the neural roots of relational processing abilities, which are key to episodic memory, recruited to build vocabulary, an ultimately semantic construct (Dr. Johnson)? Second, how is schematic knowledge, the generalization of information across multiple episodes, related to relational binding processes which produce a single coherent episode, and does this relationship change across development (Dr. Ngo)? Third, do people build semantic knowledge about word meanings from their experience with statistical regularities of word co-occurrence in language over time, and how does this process change with development (Dr. Unger)? Finally, how do the semantic networks of children and adults differ, and do children fundamentally favor idiosyncratic representations over consistency (Wharton-Shukster)? The presenters are young investigators based in the USA, Canada, and Germany. The cross talk between episodic and semantic memory researchers will provide a cutting-edge look at core developmental processes in human cognitive development, which should hold broad appeal to ISDP members.
PRE-CONFERENCE PERINATAL SYMPOSIUM: TELOMERES – A CRITICAL DISCUSSION OF BIOMARKER METHODOLOGY AND EVIDENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION, WITHIN AND ACROSS GENERATIONS, OF TELOMERES AND MATERNAL RISK.
Presenters: Stacy Drury, Co-Chair, presenter; Sonja Entringer, Co-Chair, presenter; Idan Shalev; Elizabeth Shirtcliff, Discussant
Biomarkers, including telomere length, cortisol, and inflammatory markers are often examined as parts of the mechanistic pathways through which maternal stress influences the health and biology of her offspring. This symposium tests several pathways by which fetal telomere biology and other stress response systems are affected by maternal prenatal and life course stress, providing evidence of programing of telomere biology by maternal stress with differing pathways for maternal life course and prenatal stress. Recognizing the critical importance of methodologic rigor in biomarker studies this symposium will also discuss key pre-analytic factors related to telomere studies providing ample data for a lively discussion relevant for studies utilizing stored samples as well as new studies that are designed to ensure the highest level of methodologic rigor for telomere studies moving forward. Presents are also part of the Telomere Research Network, an NIA/NIEHS funding initiative with direct ties to the Stress and Biomarker Networks focused on methodologic standardization and rigor for studies related to telomeres, stress and other biomarkers with the expectation that these methodologic standards with be applicable not just to telomere studies but also to other biomarkers. To ensure a lively discussion Dr. Shirtcliff has been selected as a discussant given her expertise in neuroendocrine biomarkers. Dr. Entringer will present first on data related to fetal programming of telomere biology and maternal resilience and stress. Second Dr. Drury will present data, using complex systems analyses, on maternal life course stress and its affect on TL and other infant outcomes across the first two years of life. Lastly, Dr. Shalev will discuss important findings related to DNA integrity and reproducibility and replicability of TL measurement as studies exploring transgenerational and intergenerational effects of maternal stress on offspring development often utilize samples collected over a long time-span and at varying locations. Ensuring the methodological rigor of telomere studies, and discussing similar debates in relation to
other key biomarkers is imperative to the quality of current and future biomarker research.