Early life stress (ELS) is a significant risk factor for the development of psychiatric symptoms that cut across diagnostic categories. The mechanisms through which ELS confers this heightened vulnerability, however, are poorly understood. Given the enormous number of referrals involving child maltreatment each year, it is imperative that we examine the neurodevelopmental consequences of early life stress and the mechanisms by which changes in brain function increase the risk for psychopathology in boys and girls following puberty. We believe that findings from this project will help us understand of how risk for psychopathology emerges in children who have experienced early life stress, and will inform early interventions aimed at preventing adverse consequence of this early exposure to stress.
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