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Lecture 2

PSYC23H3 Lecture 2: ACEs and Epigenetics
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Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC23H3
Professor
David Haley

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PSYC23: Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello
PSYC23 Lecture 2: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and
Epigenetics
ACEs video: How Childhood Trauma Can Make You A Sick Adult
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3cCAcGeG8E&app=desktop
o Life experiences protected by guilt, shame, and social taboos against these experiences
can cause extreme emotional, cognitive, and genetic chances throughout half a century
of oe’s life
o Childhood sexual abuse can cause adult obesity, dysfunctional households and
relationships, etc.
o Big portion of children have experienced 6+ ACEs
Very common We do’t ealize this eause e ae ot aae of this topi
o The power of maternal-child relationship is enormous, especially in the first year of the
hild’s life
o Coping devices like drinking alcohol may have immediate relaxing effects
But chronic consumption can lead to destructive behaviour
o Chronic major unrelieved stress
Brain and central nervous system
This can produce the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body and can
suppress immune system function
The only realistic intervention is primary prevention
ACEs vs. Genes
o How do the animal models allow us to test whether its the ACEs vs. the Genes?
Rats and monkeys
Unethical to perform research on this area on humans
Lots of genetic overlap between species
Easier to manipulate conditions in animal research
o What kind of human studies would be necessary to make this same determination?
o What kind of ethical issues would be involved?
Distress and harm
Romanian orphans
o Tremendous amount of institutional neglect
o Could manipulate and control how much adversity the orphan children received
o Can high quality foster care reverse the effects from the institution?
o Children who lived in a Romanian orphanage beyond age 2 developed weaker brains
than those who left earlier
o Kids that were institutionalized had much less electrical activity on the surface of their
brains
o Here, the answer to gene vs. adversity is adversity
Charles Nelson
o Individuality is the product or both biological inheritance and personal experience
o Genes provide the basic architecture for brain development but experience then
teaks
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find more resources at oneclass.com
PSYC23: Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello
o Role of experience
Some experiences are/should be universal to all members of the species (ex.
Sensory input, caregiving) Help ensure survival
Others may optimize development
o Early windows of experience shape brain function
Higher cognition in adolescence why adolescence is a critical brain develop
stage
o Exposure to early adversity
Epeiee uts oth as
o Toxic stress
o The highe the ue of isk fatos, the oe the hild’s deelopet delas
Nearly 100% of children who experienced 7+ risk factors display developmental
problems
o Adverse childhood experiences make it more likely for the child to grow up abusing
drugs and alcohol
16% of the people who experienced around 4 risk factors report having issues
with alcohol abuse
40% of people who experienced 5+ risk factors report having issues with drug
abuse
o Nearly 16 million children in the US (22%) live below the poverty line
o Child poverty strongly associated with cognitive development
Achievement test scores
o Neurocognitive systems that are most strongly associated with poverty
Executive function
Memory
Language
Visuospatial skills
o Lower SES associated with greater cortical thinning
Over-pruning
o More responsive parent, less cortical thinning
Thus, parental responsiveness may be a moderator on SES and development
o Neglect is bad for the brain
Brain expects input that it does’t eeie Wiring is changed
Particularly egregious if experiences expected to occur during a critical period
fail to occur (ex. Faces, language, caregiving
o Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment
o Early institutionalization
High ratio of kids:caregivers at Romanian orphanages Caegies a’t take
care of all the kids simultaneously
IQ, language, executive functions all greatly diminished by institutional care
o Institutionalized children lose around 1 month of linear growth for every 1 month in a
neglectful institution
Not due to malnutrition
Happens due to psychosocial issues
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find more resources at oneclass.com

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PSYC23: Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello PSYC23 Lecture 2: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Epigenetics ACEs video: How Childhood Trauma Can Make You A Sick Adult o https:www.youtube.comwatch?v=y3cCAcGeG8Eapp=desktop o Life experiences protected by guilt, shame, and social taboos against these experiences can cause extreme emotional, cognitive, and genetic chances throughout half a century of ones life o Childhood sexual abuse can cause adult obesity, dysfunctional households and relationships, etc. o Big portion of children have experienced 6+ ACEs Very common We dont realize this because we are not aware of this topic o The power of maternalchild relationship is enormous, especially in the first year of the childs life o Coping devices like drinking alcohol may have immediate relaxing effects But chronic consumption can lead to destructive behaviour o Chronic major unrelieved stress Brain and central nervous system This can produce the release of proinflammatory chemicals in the body and can suppress immune system function The only realistic intervention is primary prevention ACEs vs. Genes o How do the animal models allow us to test whether its the ACEs vs. the Genes? Rats and monkeys Unethical to perform research on this area on humans Lots of genetic overlap between species Easier to manipulate conditions in animal research o What kind of human studies would be necessary to make this same determination? o What kind of ethical issues would be involved? Distress and harm Romanian orphans o Tremendous amount of institutional neglect o Could manipulate and control how much adversity the orphan children received o Can high quality foster care reverse the effects from the institution? o Children who lived in a Romanian orphanage beyond age 2 developed weaker brains than those who left earlier o Kids that were institutionalized had much less electrical activity on the surface of their brains o Here, the answer to gene vs. adversity is adversity Charles Nelson o Individuality is the product or both biological inheritance and personal experience o Genes provide the basic architecture for brain development but experience then tweaks
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