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[Webinar] Early Life Stress: Impact on Brain and Psychopathology


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Andrew Chen

Event details

For more information and to register, visit Neuronline: https://neuronline.sfn.org/scientific-research/early-life-stress-impact-on-brain-and-psychopathology

Effects of early life stress are found to be dependent on many factors, including sex and genetic background, the age of early exposure, and the age and context within which the long-term impact is examined.

This webinar will discuss the resultant high individual variability of early life stress and its impact on coping abilities and cognitive functions later in life.

Individual presentations will speak to vulnerability and resilience to early life stress, the effects of early life stress on cognitive domains, its effects on the HPA axis as well as the role of sex differences, and the necessity of developing analysis approaches that move away toward more personalized types of analysis.

In this webinar, speakers will cover points including:

  • It is not the stress exposure per se, that is determining the impact on health and disease, but the interaction with (epi)genetic background, previous experiences and current context.
  • Early life adversity generally impairs memory formation under non-stressful conditions and social behavior later in life, but increases memory formation of stressful events and anxiety.
  • What the function of the HPA axis is and how this can be altered by early life stress.
  • The plethora of factors that can influence the lasting effects of early life stress (e.g. sex, timing, brain region etc.)
  • How vast and complex the literature concerning early life stress and later effects is.
  • Explaining that individual differences in responses to early life stress and its implications are not “noise” but part of the picture.
  • Why it is important to translate the accumulating understanding about the complexity of early-life effects on coping with challenges later in life to adequate research protocols.


Gal Richter-Levin, PhD: Gal Richter-Levin is a professor at the University of Haifa, in Israel. Richter-Levin’s main research interests lie in behavioral neuroscience and the neurobiology of stress-related psychopathology. He received his undergraduate degree in agriculture from The Hebrew University and his PhD in neurobiology from The Weizmann Institute. He completed his postdoctoral training at The National Institute for Medical Research, in London.

Marian Joëls, PhD: Marian Joëls is professor of neurobiology of environmental factors, and dean as well as a board member of the University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands. She obtained her PhD degree in Utrecht with David de Wied and carried out postdoctoral research at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Scripps Research Institute. Between 1991 and 2009 she was appointed at the University of Amsterdam, and between 2009 and 2016 she served as a professor of neuroscience and scientific director of the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus at University Medical Center Utrecht. Her research focuses on stress hormone actions in the brain, with the aim of delineating the cellular and network effects of stress hormones in limbic brain regions, understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms, and examining the functional consequences for behavior, in health and disease. Her work has been published in more than 300 articles, and she currently is an ISI Highly Cited author. She is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as president of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies from 2012–2014.

Mathias V. Schmidt, PhD:  Mathias V. Schmidt is a principal investigator at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany. He earned his PhD in neuroscience from the Leiden University, in the Netherlands, and his postdoctoral training at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and the Ludwig Maximilians University, in Munich. Schmidt's research focuses on unraveling the molecular underpinnings of stress-related disorders.

Nichola Brydges, PhD: Nichola Brydges is a Jane Hodge Foundation research fellow in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute at Cardiff University, in Wales. Her research focuses on the role early life stress plays in the development of psychiatric illness, with a particular focus on social behavior and hippocampal function. She earned her BSc in biology from the University of Sheffield, in England, and her PhD in animal cognition, physiology, and behavior from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland.

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