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Recent Awards

Lindsay Halladay received $70,000 from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

Lindsay Halladay with the Psychology Department has received a $70,000 award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to support her project "Anxiety-Related and Social Behavioral Deficits Induced by Early Life Adversity".
Nearly one percent of children in the US experience childhood abuse or neglect, rendering an astounding number of individuals susceptible to an array of life-long behavioral deficits that often include social anxiety, attachment disorders, difficult peer relations, and externalizing behaviors. The studies proposed here are directly related to the mission of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation; experiments have been designed to investigate the specific neural circuitry underlying deficits stemming from early life adversity, with the goal of identifying potential therapeutic targets for individuals suffering the debilitating consequences of early life trauma such as childhood neglect. While we know that disruption of neural development by adverse events early in life, such as abuse or neglect experienced during the 'critical period', can lead to life-long deficits in social behaviors that are foundational to many mental health disorders, we do not fully understand the neural mechanisms underlying such dysfunction. Social behavior involves coordination between neural circuits promoting reward and circuits inhibiting anxiety, but the extent to which early adversity-induced social deficits are due to dysfunction in anxiety versus reward circuits is not understood. Work here will explicate this distinction, using robust  behavioral models in combination with cell-type and circuit-specific tools to dissect the neural underpinnings of early adversity incited social behavior deficits - critical for identifying potential therapeutic targets for social and anxiety-related disorders stemming from early life adversities.