Dr. Michael Burman
The University of New England
Understanding the Ontogeny of Negative Affect using a Rodent Model
There has been considerable progress in understanding the biology of threat processing over the last 50 years, such that we now understand, almost synapse-by-synapse, several related neural circuits including those responsible for fear, anxiety and pain. A common feature of all of these states is an aversive emotional/motivational component, also called negative affect, that appears to rely on the amygdala and related structures. However, an oversight in previous work is that although affective disorders often emerge early in life, the majority of neuroanatomical and functional studies have occurred in the adult organism. This seminar will review The Burman Collaborative’s work on understanding the ontogeny of negative affective states under both typical and abnormal developmental circumstances. In the first section, the seminar will review work showing the typical development of threat/fear processing. In the second section, the seminar will discuss newer work looking at the consequences of early-life stress and pain, such as might occur in premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).