Exposure to early life adversity is a risk factor for cognitive dysfunction and psychopathology. The revised Project 3 is informed by discoveries of Project 1 that, in rodents, early-life fragmented patterns of maternal care provokes emotional and cognitive vulnerabilities in adolescence. The Project will test specific hypotheses about how prenatal and early postnatal maternal signals interact to influence the risk for cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities. The long term consequences of exposure to fragmented /unpredictable maternal signals during the fetal and infant periods will be tested with a prospective longitudinal investigation of two cohorts followed from early in gestation and assessed during infancy/toddlerhood (new cohort;N=200) and childhood/adolescence (existing cohort;N=150). Maternal behavior will be observed in real time in the context of interactions with her child and subjected to both linear and nonlinear analyses for the characterization of fragmentation and unpredictability. Child and adolescent behaviors will be evaluated using standardized laboratory measures of indicative of prodromal risk for mental illness. Project 3 will interact closely with Project 2 to create trajectories of emotional and cognitive vulnerabilities. With Project 4 behavioral and imaging tasks will be integrated to construct a matrix of behavioral and brain-network profiles. We will determine: 1) Whether early life exposure to fragmented and unpredictable maternal signals is associated with cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities;2) The joint role of the prenatal and early postnatal environments for determining later mental health (with Project 2);3) Whether sex differences in responses to fragmented/unpredictable maternal care contribute to sex specific vulnerabilities to psychiatric disorders;and 4) Consequences of early life exposure to fragmented/unpredictable maternal care (both pre and postnatal) for the structure and network-function of specific brain regions (with Project 4). This project comprises a unique opportunity to investigate the early origins of mental illness. The joint consideration of both fetal and infant periods will lead to a different and broader understanding of the role that early experiences play in determining cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities in contrast to the evaluation of either of these periods in isolation. Further, the coordination between Project 3 and the other projects in this Center will provide new insight into the mechanisms by which early experiences exert lasting effects on cognitive and emotional vulnerabilities.

Public Health Relevance

One out of 17 Americans will suffer from a severe mental illness during their lifetime. The origins of mental illness predominantly begin early in life. Project 3, in close collaboration with the other three projects in this Center proposes to prospectively examine pre and postnatal influences on cognitive, behavioral and emotional vulnerabilities contributing to mental illness.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Irvine
United States
Zip Code
Hankin, Benjamin L; Davis, Elysia Poggi; Snyder, Hannah et al. (2017) Temperament factors and dimensional, latent bifactor models of child psychopathology: Transdiagnostic and specific associations in two youth samples. Psychiatry Res 252:139-146
Curran, Megan M; Sandman, Curt A; Poggi Davis, Elysia et al. (2017) Abnormal dendritic maturation of developing cortical neurons exposed to corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH): Insights into effects of prenatal adversity? PLoS One 12:e0180311
Stout, Stephanie A; Lin, Jue; Hernandez, Natalie et al. (2017) Validation of Minimally-Invasive Sample Collection Methods for Measurement of Telomere Length. Front Aging Neurosci 9:397
Hahn-Holbrook, Jennifer; Davis, Elysia P; Glynn, Laura M (2017) Response to ""Cortisol in human milk: The good, the bad, or the Ugly?"" Obesity (Silver Spring) 25:1154
Walker, Claire-Dominique; Bath, Kevin G; Joels, Marian et al. (2017) Chronic early life stress induced by limited bedding and nesting (LBN) material in rodents: critical considerations of methodology, outcomes and translational potential. Stress 20:421-448
Gunn, B G; Baram, T Z (2017) Stress and Seizures: Space, Time and Hippocampal Circuits. Trends Neurosci 40:667-679
Singh-Taylor, A; Molet, J; Jiang, S et al. (2017) NRSF-dependent epigenetic mechanisms contribute to programming of stress-sensitive neurons by neonatal experience, promoting resilience. Mol Psychiatry :
Bolton, Jessica L; Molet, Jenny; Ivy, Autumn et al. (2017) New insights into early-life stress and behavioral outcomes. Curr Opin Behav Sci 14:133-139
Molet, Jenny; Maras, Pamela M; Kinney-Lang, Eli et al. (2016) MRI uncovers disrupted hippocampal microstructure that underlies memory impairments after early-life adversity. Hippocampus 26:1618-1632
Kim, Dae-Jin; Davis, Elysia Poggi; Sandman, Curt A et al. (2016) Prenatal Maternal Cortisol Has Sex-Specific Associations with Child Brain Network Properties. Cereb Cortex :

Showing the most recent 10 out of 37 publications