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Margaret Sheridan: Deprivation and threat, testing conceptual model of adversity exposure and developmental outcomes

April 9, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

On April 9, 2021, Margaret Sheridan, an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will present “Deprivation and threat, testing conceptual model of adversity exposure and developmental outcomes” as part of the Carolina Population Center’s 2020-21 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series. This year, the CPC Interdisciplinary Research Seminars will be open to both CPC members and Social Epidemiology program members.


Exposure to childhood adversity is common and associated with a host of negative developmental outcomes as well as differences in neural structure and function. It is commonly posited that these social experiences “get under the skin” in early childhood, increasing long-term risk through disruptions to biology. In this talk I propose a novel approach to studying the link between adversity, brain development, and risk for psychopathology, the dimensional model of adversity and psychopathology (DMAP). In this model we propose that adversity exposure can be defined according to  different dimensions which we expect to impact health and well-being through different neural substrates. Whereas we expect deprivation to primarily disrupt function and structure of lateral association cortex (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and superior parietal cortex) and thus complex cognitive processing such as executive functioning. In contrast, we expect threat to alter structure and function of subcortical structures such as the hippocampus and amygdala and midline regions associated with emotion regulation such as the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and thus, associated emotion reactivity and automatic regulation processes. In a series of studies I test the basic tenants of the DMAP concluding that initial evidence, using both a priori hypothesis testing and data-driven approaches is consistent with the proposed model. I conclude by describing future work addressing multiple dimensions of adversity and potential adjustments to the model.


Margaret Sheridan is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the director of the Child Imaging Research on Cognition and Life Experiences Lab (CIRCLE Lab). Margaret’s research examines typical and atypical neurodevelopment of the prefrontal cortex and related systems supporting development of executive function across age. In particular within the CIRCLE lab we examine how early life experiences ranging from maltreatment to poverty or institutionalization impact neural development leading to risk for externalizing psychopathology. Our work has demonstrated that exposure to a variety of early life adversities are related to deficits in function of the prefrontal cortex and that different exposures may impact neural development in specific ways. In particular exposures to threat or violence may impact neural development and thus risk for externalizing psychopathology differently than exposures characterized by a lack of social interaction, cognitive enrichment, and complex linguistic experience. The CIRCLE lab uses multiple neuroimaging methods (e.g., EEG/ERP, fMRI, structural MRI) and multiple behavioral methods (e.g., cognitive testing, structured clinical interview, in home observation) to achieve these goals.

This event will be held on Zoom. You can register here. We will post a recording after the talk. You can see previous events here.


April 9, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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