Deprivation and Threat: Dimensions of Early Experience and Neural Development

Research Objective

Dr. Sheridan collaborates with Dr. Katie McLaughlin on work pertaining to the impact of deprivation and threat on the developing brain. Exposure to violence is associated with elevated risk for a wide range of mental health problems in children and adolescents, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite the consistency of evidence linking child trauma to the onset of mental health problems, the neurodevelopmental mechanisms that underlie these associations remain poorly understood. The development of effective and efficient preventive interventions requires a better understanding of the specific developmental processes that are disrupted as a result of child trauma exposure and how those disruptions ultimately lead to psychopathology. In a study being run at University of Washington under the direction of Dr. McLaughlin, the influence of exposure to violence on brain regions involved in emotional learning and emotion regulation is being assessed. Dr. Sheridan and Dr. McLaughlin are interested in how violence exposure influences attention to emotional cues in the environment, emotional learning, discrimination of threat and safety cues, and the ability to modulate emotional reactions.

To read more about Dr. McLaughlin’s research visit her lab website.