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The goal of my research is to better understand how environments related to structural inequality, specifically exposure to adversity, shapes neural development across childhood (from 5-18 years of age) and how disruption in this process results in psychopathology.
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.