This collaborative R01 involves parallel studies at the Universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota. The work explores the neurobiological bases of problems in attention/executive functions, sensory integration, and emotion/stress regulation exhibited by children who have experienced neglect/privation early in life. This project is motivated by renewed interest the effects of early deprivation/neglect on development, precipitated by the last decade's increase in international adoptions. In addition, it reflects concerns with brain development and neural plasticity coupled with continued controversies over the importance of early experiences and questions about sensitive periods. The marked change in living environments experienced with adoption allows a reasonable way to estimate both the duration and ages during which deprivation was experienced. To date, studies of these children have employed global measures that are difficult to map to specific neural systems. The General Aim of this project is to build upon extant studies and examine specific cognitive and affective systems.
The specific aims i dentify (a) aspects of neural circuitry that are linked to the development of cognitive processes and self-regulatory behaviors and (b) later-developing neural systems that are likely to be affected by early deprivation/neglect.
Specific Aim 1 examines frontally mediated systems believed to underlie aspects of attention, inhibitory control, and working memory.
Specific Aim 2 examines sensory-motor processing including sensory integration, acquisition, and praxis.
Specific Aim 3 explores systems thoughts to be compromised based upon the animal literature on early neglect: cortico-limbic-hypothalamic-brainstem systems that are involved in stress reactivity and regulation. Together, these studies will provide a relatively comprehensive and more specific picture of the potential neural compromises resulting from early deprivation in human children as well as highlighting those aspects of brain-behavior development that appear to be spared. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-SSS-V (02))
Program Officer
Boyce, Cheryl A
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Education
United States
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Roeber, Barbara J; Gunnar, Megan R; Pollak, Seth D (2014) Early deprivation impairs the development of balance and bilateral coordination. Dev Psychobiol 56:1110-8
Loman, Michelle M; Johnson, Anna E; Quevedo, Karina et al. (2014) Risk-taking and sensation-seeking propensity in postinstitutionalized early adolescents. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 55:1145-52
Loman, Michelle M; Johnson, Anna E; Westerlund, Alissa et al. (2013) The effect of early deprivation on executive attention in middle childhood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 54:37-45
Quevedo, Karina; Johnson, Anna; Loman, Michelle et al. (2012) The Confluence of Adverse Early Experience and Puberty on the Cortisol Awakening Response. Int J Behav Dev 36:19-28
G├╝ler, O Evren; Hostinar, Camelia E; Frenn, Kristin A et al. (2012) Electrophysiological evidence of altered memory processing in children experiencing early deprivation. Dev Sci 15:345-58
Wiik, Kristen L; Loman, Michelle M; Van Ryzin, Mark J et al. (2011) Behavioral and emotional symptoms of post-institutionalized children in middle childhood. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 52:56-63
Nelson 3rd, Charles A; Bos, Karen; Gunnar, Megan R et al. (2011) The Neurobiological Toll of Early Human Deprivation. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 76:127-146
Wilbarger, Julia; Gunnar, Megan; Schneider, Mary et al. (2010) Sensory processing in internationally adopted, post-institutionalized children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 51:1105-14
Pollak, Seth D; Nelson, Charles A; Schlaak, Mary F et al. (2010) Neurodevelopmental effects of early deprivation in postinstitutionalized children. Child Dev 81:224-36
Gunnar, Megan R; Wewerka, Sandi; Frenn, Kristin et al. (2009) Developmental changes in hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal activity over the transition to adolescence: normative changes and associations with puberty. Dev Psychopathol 21:69-85

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