Nicole Walasek, PhD Postdoctoral Researcher University of Amsterdam, Evolutionary and Population Biology, Netherlands

2024 ISDP Dissertation Award Winner – Nicole Walasek, PhD

2024 ISDP Dissertation Award Winner – Nicole Walasek, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher,
University of Amsterdam, Evolutionary and Population Biology, Netherlands. She will give a 10-minute talk at ISDP 2024 related to her dissertation on “The evolution and development of sensitive periods: Theoretical and statistical approaches.”

Symposium 6: THE INVESTIGATION OF THE INTERTWINED INFLUENCE OF EARLY-LIFE ADVERSITY AND GENETIC FACTORS THROUGHOUT DEVELOPMENT ACROSS FOUR LONGITUDINAL COHORTS: IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH AND BEHAVIORS

Early life adversity has the potential to influence brain development, biological systems, attitudes, and behaviors, which is hypothesized to subsequently affect physical and mental health in adulthood. However, the effects of these experiences vary across different domains of functioning and may not be uniform across individuals, necessitating further investigation into the genetic underpinnings of developmental outcomes through comprehensive, developmentally sensitive research designs. We also need to expand our search into both the endogenous and exogenous causal pathways at play, ranging from molecular mechanisms to the structural and broader social influences that shape life within our society. In the first presentation, Dr Larose will present the contributions of a polygenic score (PGS) for externalizing behaviors and latent profiles of neighborhood deprivation on conduct disorders during adolescence and show that the PGS and neighborhoods with crime and low-quality infrastructures both additively predict conduct disorders. Next, Dr Cantave will offer additional evidence that genetic predispositions for internalizing and externalizing problems are associated with higher risk encounter childhood adversity, although no such association is noted for peri-natal adversity. Delving deeper into the possibility that genetic factors may be confounded with early-life adversity, Dr. Ouellet-Morin will show that childhood maltreatment is more likely to arise among children with a genetic predisposition for aggression and shed light on how these experiences partly explain how the PGS predict developmental trajectories of global and reactive aggression during adolescence. Finally, using advanced genomics and translational animal models, Dr Pelufo Silveira will show that brain-specific gene networks responsive to early stress and insulin, have a sex-dependent modulation of adversity response mediated by brain insulin, particularly in dopaminergic pathways influencing behavior and decision-making.

Symposium 5: BENCH TO BEDSIDE: IMPLEMENTATION OF EXPERIMENTAL AND CROSS-SPECIES RESEARCH TO BENEFIT MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH

This symposium presents a series of studies leveraging the power of experimental rodent work and human randomized clinical trials to develop efficacious large-scale screening and intervention programs to benefit maternal-child health and address needs of marginalized populations. The first presentation, by Dr. Davis, tests the benefits of reducing maternal prenatal depression on both maternal and child outcomes including preterm birth and brain development applying a randomized clinical trial (RCT) design and then presents work leveraging these findings to implement a universal community informed prevention program. The second presentation, by Dr. D’Anna-Hernandez, addresses the effect of racism and discrimination within obstetric care on maternal anxiety and depression and then applies a cross-species approach to explore underlying biological mechanisms. The third presentation, by Howland, explores prenatal psychosis and mania, which are understudied and underdiagnosed in perinatal populations, and evaluates underlying biological mechanisms and plausible tools for screening as well as links to parenting behaviors and child development. The final talk, by Dr. Glynn, presents implementation of a novel screening tool based on experimental rodent work identifying biological pathways by which unpredictability gets under the skin. This presentation then discusses applications of this research to develop screening tools developed with input from parents and community stakeholders to address unpredictability in children’s early environment. Together the talks in this symposium address critical issues in maternal-child health applying cross-species research to better understand causality and mechanisms and to develop prevention and intervention programs to serve the needs of marginalized communities.

Columbia University Department of Psychiatry Symposium 4: ADDRESSING RACIAL DISPARITIES IN MATERNAL HEALTH AND BRAIN RESEARCH: INSIGHTS FROM HUMAN AND ANIMAL STUDIES

This symposium was designed in line with the ISDP DEI Committee’s goals to increase diversity across our society, in both our membership and in our science. This symposium features early-career scientists (two assistant professors and one postdoctoral associate) from Asian, Latina, and multiracial backgrounds. Their research, significantly focusing on women of African descent and Black women, employs neuroimaging, immunobiology, and digital health approaches in both human and animal models. The dialogue will revolve around the research showcased and strategies for organizations like ISDP, developmental psychobiology graduate programs, and individual laboratories to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion among their communities and scientific endeavors.

WILEY Young Investigator Symposium 3: CROSS-SPECIES APPROACHES TO UNDERSTANDING THE NEUROBIOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS ACROSS THE LIFESPAN

In 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General declared social connection as a public health priority, emphasizing the critical role that social connection plays in transforming health and well-being across individuals and communities. In line with this call to action, it is essential to understand the normative neurobiological development of social relationships, including how relationships may buffer against the negative effects of stress and promote adaptive outcomes. In this symposium, we will present on various physiological and neural mechanisms by which different types of social partners affect developmental outcomes. The first two presentations focus on who can effectively buffer the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response to stress in children and adolescents. The first presentation explores whether “sharing the load” of a stressor with a close friend influences cortisol reactivity to the stressor in adolescence. The second presentation examines whether siblings can buffer the cortisol stress response for children and adolescents. The third presentation features a non-human animal model of social bonding, highlighting the neural circuitry that underlies pair bonding behaviors with romantic partners in the socially monogamous prairie vole across different age groups. The fourth presentation describes associations between caregiver-child relationships and the development of the corticolimbic tract (structure, function, and connectivity) in humans, and how these neurobiological differences relate to well-being and resilient functioning. Finally, Dr. Megan Gunnar, an expert on the neurobiological development of social relationships, will serve as the discussant, highlighting integrative themes across all four presentations and facilitating discussion of implications and future directions. In line with ISDP’s priorities, this symposium will feature research across multiple species, biological systems, methodologies, and developmental stages.

Presidential Symposium 2 Opening Session: MINDING OUR MICROBES: EXAMINING THE ROLE OF THE GUT MICROBIOME IN DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

The gut microbiome has been trans-diagnostically linked with psychopathology in adults, and a wave of recent research has suggested that differences in the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome in early life may be associated with differential risk for the development of psychopathology. The gut microbiome undergoes a critical period of development in early life, overlapping with sensitive periods in other key physiological and stress response systems, making questions about connections between the gut microbiome and psychopathology particularly important to consider from a developmental perspective. In this symposium, we explore the role of the gut microbiome in developmental psychopathology, the state of the literature in this growing line of inquiry, and identify areas for future research. In the first presentation, Dr. Sarah Vogel will present longitudinal associations between development of the gut microbiome throughout infancy and behavioral measures of fearfulness and negative affectivity in early childhood. Next, Dr. Patricia Brennan will integrate perspectives from the social determinants of health and developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) frameworks to discuss connections between prenatal stress, the infant gut microbiome, and child behavior problems in two samples of African American infants and their mothers. Naomi Gancz will then discuss connections between the gut microbiome and internalizing symptoms across childhood and the role of childhood adversity in moderating gut-behavior associations. Finally, Dr. Harikesh Dubey will present some experimental work examining the effects of fecal transplant procedures in mice and implications for anxiolytic behavior, with an emphasis on neural mechanisms, including myelination and dendritic complexity. This symposium will integrate research perspectives from across disciplines, species, domains, and developmental timing to contextualize the state of our scientific understanding of the role of the gut microbiome in developmental psychopathology and inspire discussion about the potential future directions for research and intervention.

Perinatal Symposium 1: NEW DIRECTIONS IN MATERNAL NEURAL RESPONDING TO INFANTS RESEARCH

Parents’ processing of infant cues (e.g., infant emotional expressions, vocalizations) is expected to shape their caregiving behaviors. Event-related potentials (ERPs), derived from electroencephalography (EEG), are particularly valuable to investigating neural processing of salient infant cues in expectant and postpartum women with their high temporal sensitivity in measuring the magnitude and efficiency of infant cue processing, resonating with the intuitive nature of parenting. Given the cost effectiveness and ease of implementation, EEG/ERP is also advantageous for large-scale studies of parenting to ensure more reliable and replicable results. Although EEG/ERP research has demonstrated that infant emotional faces are prioritized across early and late stages of processing, questions remain regarding the maternal factors that shape variation in women’s neural responding to infant emotional faces, and in turn, child development. The proposed symposium comprises four presentations that capture new directions in maternal EEG/ERP research designed to address these gaps and identify targets for parenting interventions. In this symposium, a brief primer on EEG/ERP will be provided as part of the introduction to the speakers and overview of the symposium. The first two presentations clarify the role of psychological risk factors on (expectant) mothers’ ERPs to infant emotional expressions. In the first presentation, Kristin Bernard, PhD, will discuss the importance of mothers’ own early attachment experiences in shaping neural processing of infant cues in 81 mothers, highlighting the importance of incorporating multiple assessments of early attachment experiences in contextualizing findings. Building on this work, in the second presentation, Tingyan Liu, BS, will showcase the value of moving beyond one variable of psychological risk to considering the unique contributions of depression and attachment insecurity to maternal neural processing of infant cues in a sample of 200 pregnant women. In recognizing that an important goal of maternal brain research more broadly is to inform understanding of child development, the second two presentations demonstrate the downstream significance of mothers’ neural processing of emotional expressions for children’s development. In the third presentation, Sarah Peoples, MSc, employs a novel approach to considering neural synchrony in face processing between 139 mothers and their infants, and demonstrates that how synchrony is related to infant internalizing symptoms depends on mothers’ symptomatology. Finally, in the fourth presentation, Kathryn Wall, MPhil, will present data for the first time linking maternal neural responses to infant cues with infant developmental outcomes in 94 mother-infant dyads. Taken together, these studies showcase innovation in the application of EEG/ERP to study psychological processes contributing to maternal neural processing of infant cues and the significance for child development.

ISDP and the DEI Committee are seeking investigators from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to apply for our inaugural DEI Committee-sponsored symposium, with intention to present at the 2024 Annual Meeting (Chicago, IL, Oct. 2nd-4th). Early-career investigators ((from graduate students to within seven years of earning a Ph.D., M.D., Psy.D., etc.) investigators are especially encouraged to apply. Topics may vary broadly across the spectrum of developmental psychobiology and represent cellular, animal, and/or human models. Symposia Themes: • Perinatal health of Black pregnant individuals • Caregiver brain health and racism/discrimination • Caregiver mental health and racism/discrimination • Bilingualism and cognition • Intergenerational transmission of trauma • Digital mental health in diverse communities Please submit below a 250-word abstract by Wednesday, March 20th. Selected individuals will be notified by Monday, March 25th. Selection does not guarantee presentation at the annual meeting; we will submit the symposium application on Monday, April 1st. By submitting this application, you are confirming that you will be willing and able to present at the annual meeting in-person if the symposium is accepted. Submission Form: bit.ly/isdp-dei-committee-symposium-form Please direct submission questions to: Lana Ruvolo Grasser, Ph.D., DEI Committee Chair, lgrasser@med.wayne.edu Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo, Ph.D., DEI Committee Liaison, jr1679@georgetown.edu Diana Lopera Perez, DEI Committee Member, dlopera@bu.edu For more information on the annual meeting, please see here: https://isdp.org/current/ For more information on symposia submissions, please see here: https://isdp.org/call-for-symposium-submissions-for-isdp-2024/

Call for Speakers: ISDP DEI Committee Symposium

ISDP and the DEI Committee are seeking investigators from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities to apply for our inaugural DEI Committee-sponsored symposium, with intention to present at the 2024 Annual Meeting (Chicago, IL, Oct. 2nd-4th). Early-career investigators ((from graduate students to within seven years of earning a Ph.D., M.D., Psy.D., etc.) investigators are especially encouraged to apply.