Chair: Arianna M. Gard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience Program, University of Maryland, College Park

Co-Chair: Natalie H. Brito, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology, New York University

Moderator: Koraly Perez-Edgar, Ph.D., McCourtney Professor of Child Studies and Professor of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University 

Symposium Abstract: 

Like other scientific disciplines, developmental psychobiological science is overwhelmingly scientist-driven. Research questions, methods, and protocols are developed by scientists without input from the very populations under examination. Such “distanced perspectives” (Nzinga et al., 2018) perpetuate long-standing biases in sociodemographic representations, with implications for generalizability and public trust in science (Lewis, 2021). Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an innovative paradigm that “switches the script” to equitably involve community members, researchers, and other stakeholders in the research process (Collins et al., 2018). Despite its promise, however, CBPR has not been implemented in psychological research, particularly studies involving the collection of biological data. The purpose of this symposium is to showcase variations in the CPBR approach that have been applied to developmental psychobiological research, highlighting projects that span from the prenatal period through adolescence. Dr. Nicole Mahrer will describe the CBPR practices implemented in the planning of the Community Child Health Network and summarize key longitudinal findings linking stress to maternal and child health. Dr. Natalie Brito will present results and key takeaways from an innovative Community Neuroscience project, which seeks to conduct ecologically-valid cognitive neuroscience studies with sociodemographically-diverse families. Dr. Arianna Gard will summarize the results of two qualitative studies exploring community perspectives on the collection of biological data in psychological research, and families’ definitions of and priorities for health and wellbeing. Lastly, Dr. Koraly Perez-Edgar will discuss the community engagement portion of the nationwide HBCD Study, a public-use dataset likely to be leveraged by countless ISDP attendees and scientists worldwide. We intend to leave ample time for an interactive discussion between panelists and attendees as we seek to infuse community-engaged methods with developmental psychobiological science.    

List of abstracts and presenters

DEVELOPMENTAL AND PSYCHOBIOLOGICAL FINDINGS FROM THE COMMUNITY CHILD HEALTH NETWORK

Nicole Mahrer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of La Verne, CA (presenter)

Gabrielle Rinne, M.A., Graduate Student, UCLA (co-author)

Christine Dunkel Schetter, PhD, Professor of Psychology, UCLA (co-author)

The Community Child Health Network (CCHN) was a five-site research network including community partners to address disparities in maternal and child health. The CCHN longitudinal study recruited and followed a large sample of predominantly low-income mothers and fathers of three major racial/ethnic groups (Black, Latina/o, Non-Hispanic White) from urban, rural, and suburban areas in the United States. Data were collected through home visits from 1 month through 12 months after a birth (preconception/interconception), twice during a subsequent pregnancy, and once postpartum. A separate follow-up study at three sites assessed 127 mothers and subsequent children at two home visits in early childhood. We will describe the CCHN study design, the community-based process contributing to the project’s success, and review empirical findings on early child developmental and psychobiological outcomes. Highlights include maternal preconception, prenatal, and post-partum psychobiological predictors of child temperament, behavior, mental health, hair and salivary cortisol, and telomere length.


COMMUNITY NEUROSCIENCE: EXAMINING DYADIC BRAIN ACTIVITY DURING NATRUAL SOCIAL INTERACITONS ACROSS CULTURALLY AND LINGUISTICALLY DIVERSE FAMILIES

Natalie H. Brito, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology, New York University (presenter)

Suzanne Dikker, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, New York University (co-author)

Social interactions, particularly early in life when children are highly dependent on caregivers, are essential to facilitate learning. Research has suggested that the co-modulation of oscillatory rhythms between individuals is predictive of successful engagement; therefore, examining the role of inter-brain synchrony within interactions is necessary to better understand mechanisms of early learning. This talk will present our effort to conduct ecologically valid cognitive neuroscience studies with families from diverse socio-demographic backgrounds. Immigrant families, often living in disinvested neighborhoods, rarely get an opportunity to engage with scientists, apart from being asked to consent for a study. Within our Community Neuroscience project, families met with our team to learn more about developmental studies and EEG, ask questions, and provide vital feedback. This presentation will discuss findings from our study, provide tips on how to build community partnerships, and review the challenges and benefits of participatory research methods within our field.


GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT: RESULTS FROM TWO QUALITATIVE STUDIES EXPLORING COMMUNITY MEMBERS’ PERSPECTIVES ON DEVELOPMENTAL RESEARCH AND BIOSOCIAL METHODS

Arianna M. Gard, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience Program, University of Maryland, College Park (presenter)

Collin Mueller, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland, College Park (co-author)

Fanita A. Tyrell, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park (co-author)

An engaged orientation to scientific research (Nzinga et al., 2018) includes featuring community perspectives in study design and implementation, a practice less common in developmental psychobiological research compared to other fields (e.g., community psychology) and disciplines (e.g., public health).  In the current talk, I will present two qualitative studies, the results of which are being used to design collaborative developmental science projects with racial-ethnically marginalized communities. First, the Representation And Research Ethics (RARE) project interviews Black and Latinx residents of Prince George’s County, MD about their experiences with and attitudes towards research involving biological data collection (e.g., MRI, saliva, blood). Second, the Community And Resilient Environments (CARE) project asks caregivers, teens, and community leaders in majority Black and African American neighborhoods in Washington DC to discuss their definitions and goals for adolescent health and wellbeing. Preliminary results reveal similarities but also important distinctions between community perspectives and the preconceptions of our research team. 


COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT IN LARGE-SCALE DEVELOPMENTAL RESEARCH: PROMISE AND PERILS FROM THE HEALTHY BRAIN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT STUDY (HBCD)

Koraly Perez-Edgar, Ph.D., McCourtney Professor of Child Studies and Professor of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University (presenter)

Questions regarding the robustness, and reach, of developmental research has led to large-scale team science (e.g., ABCD, ManyBabies) harnessing the scientific power of multiple labs.  The initial focus has been on scientific and logistical complexities within and across labs. However, large-scale studies may have unique relationships with the communities they engage with.  To illustrate, the current presentation discusses the HBCD study, which will generate a birth cohort of 7,500 children from 25 research sites, including MRI, EEG, biospecimens, and behavioral observation. A portion of the sample will have prenatal exposure to substance use. Community engagement is woven into the design of the study. For example, in addition to traditional community advisory boards, HBCD incorporates Peer Navigators that will act as a bridge between researchers, participants, and the community.  The promise (broadening input) and perils (translating input into change at the local and consortium-wide level) of this approach will be discussed.