Research to shed light on how early experience impacts brain development
Dr. Richard J. Davidson, Founder and Chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, discusses a new five-year project focused revealing the pathological pathways that lead to mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Made possible by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to establish a new Silvio O. Conte Center for Basic and Translational Mental Health Research on the UW-Madison campus, it supports three major efforts:
1. Non-invasive studies, using functional, diffusion and structural MRI and other tools, to measure response to stressors in the developing brain beginning in infancy;
2. Molecular studies to characterize anxious temperament at a cellular level, using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from adolescent skin or blood cells;
3. A study of genetically identical twins to describe how experience and environment cause differences in how the brain functions and in which genes are differentially expressed.
“This work will uncover new targets for early interventions to prevent anxiety-related disorders, which exact enormous social, emotional and economic burdens in adolescence and early adulthood,” says Principal Investigator Richard J. Davidson, PhD. “Ultimately, this new knowledge will inform the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and lead to new neurally-inspired interventions.”
The Center for Investigating Healthy Minds is a research center focused on investigating and cultivating positive qualities of mind on an individual, societal and global level. Learn more at www.investigatinghealthyminds.org.
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