From Fruit Flies to Kindergartners: The Science of Childhood Adversity


The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) announces a special volume on the emerging field of the developmental neuroscience of childhood adversity. The volume is a collection of 25 papers, ranging from molecular genetics, evolutionary biology and neuroscience to social and behavioral science, epidemiology and social policy, “the first volume of collected research to provide such a substantial and comprehensive picture of the interaction between experience and biology in the early years.”

Press Release →

PNAS Volume, 109, Issue 42, October 16, 2012; online Monday, October 8, 2012

Sample Article:

Associations Between Early Life Adversity and Executive Function in Children Adopted Internationally from Orphanages(PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Socioeconomic gradients in child development in very young children: Evidence from India, Indonesia, Peru, and Senegal (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Toward a new biology of social adversity (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Preventing abusive head trauma resulting from a failure of normal interaction between infants and their caregivers (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Variations in postnatal maternal care and the epigenetic regulation of metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 expression and hippocampal function in the rat (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Social information changes the brain (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Rigor, vigor, and the study of health disparities (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Putting the concept of biological embedding in historical perspective (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Prenatal exposure to antidepressants and depressed maternal mood alter trajectory of infant speech perception (PNAS Volume on Developmental Science of Adversity)

Of further interest:

Antidepressant use in pregnancy linked to language development, Antidepressants in Pregnancy May Affect Babies’ Language Development, Maternal depression, antidepressants alter baby language development, Moms’ depression affects babies’ language development – but so does anti-depressant drug – research shows, Does mom’s depression affect baby’s language? (The LA Times, US News, Fox, The Vancouver Sun, and The Chart on “Prenatal exposure to antidepressants and depressed maternal mood alter trajectory of infant speech perception”)

New Field of Developmental Neuroscience Changes Our Understanding of Early Years of Human Life (Science Daily)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. “”This research is providing the scientific basis for public policy concerning the critical window to provide the optimal conditions that will enable our children to grow up to be well-adjusted, well-educated and productive individuals.””

    Adjusted to WHAT, public policy per “science’s” judgments, in the interest of social conformity and social control?

    Educated to WHAT, prescribed belief systems and “programmed” mind-sets (think IN that box, man – or else?).

    Productive to WHAT, whatever cultural and societal engineers mandate?

    I’ll continue to scrutinize and question long-term vision and goals for “scientific” research – which NO DOUBT will serve the best interest of control systems and structures, instead of making investments in the pursuit of CULTIVATING HUMANITARIANISM.

    I’d still like to know if “elite” people can be genetically proven to exist, and I’d also like to know why a sizable portion of the population BELIEVE in “elite” people.

    “CIFAR researchers say the nature-versus-nurture debate is dead. Real solutions come from studying interactions between the two.” From Wiki: “In the social and political sciences, the nature versus nurture debate may be contrasted with the structure versus agency debate (i.e. socialization versus individual autonomy). For a discussion of nature versus nurture in language and other human universals, see also psychological nativism.”

    Structure versus agency. Okay, so I do understand but in a very different language.!

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