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Baby Brain and Behavior Project

In the first four years of life, a child’s brain increases to 80 percent of its adult weight. This study combines state-of-the-art neuroimaging data with behavioral observation, surveys about family life, and samples of umbilical cord blood as well as maternal and child saliva to provide a rich portrait of a child’s first two years of life. Research findings help us better understand the interplay of biological and environmental factors, particularly during pregnancy, that lead to well-being in early childhood.  

Study Details

The Baby Brain and Behavior Project investigates brain and emotion-related development during the first two years of life. We are learning more about how very early experiences influence the brain development and child well-being. Building on more than 25 years of collaborative research, we are, for the first time, observing brain and behavior development concurrently during the first weeks of life. Assessments of mothers began during pregnancy.

In addition to neuroimaging, researchers are observing infant and toddler behavior, analyzing mother and infant salivary cortisol, umbilical cord blood and drawing from extensive surveys with the goal of better understanding child well-being at the behavioral and cellular level. 

Learn more on the study's website.

People Working on This Study

Richard J. Davidson
Founder, Center for Healthy Minds & Healthy Minds Innovations, William James & Vilas Professor of Psychology & Psychiatry
Doug Dean
Doug Dean
Former Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Healthy Minds
Corrina Frye
Former Senior Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds
Hill Goldsmith
Hill Goldsmith
Mark and Ilene Laufman Family Professor & Antoine Bascom Professor & Leona Tyler Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Ned Kalin
Ned Kalin
Hedberg Professor and Chair of Psychiatry, Director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute, University of Wisconsin–Madison
John Koger
Former Research Technology Manager, Center for Healthy Minds
Sarah Short
Sarah J. Short
Core Faculty at the Center for Healthy Minds, Dorothy Jones King Distinguished Chair in Educational Psychology, Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology
Dk Jang Web
DK Jang
Former Associate Research Specialist, Center for Healthy Minds

Related Publications

Dean III, D. C., Planalp, E. M., Wooten, W., Kecskemeti, S. R., Adluru, N., Schmidt, C. K., Frye, C., Birn, R. M., Burghy, C. A., Schmidt, N. L., Styner, M.A., Short, S. J., Kalin, N. H., Goldsmith, H. H., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Association of prenatal maternal depression and anxiety symptoms with infant white matter microstructure. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(10), 973-81. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.2132 PMCID: PMC6190835
Dean III, D. C., Planalp, E. M., Wooten, W., Schmidt, C. K., Kecskemeti, S. R., Frye, C., Schmidt, N. L., Goldsmith, H. H., Alexander, A. L., & Davidson, R. J. (2018). Investigation of brain structure in the one-month infant. Brain Structure and Function, 223(4), 1953-70. doi:10.1007/s00429-017-1600-2 PMCID: PMC5886836
Brooker, R. J. Canen, M. J., Davidson, R. J., & Goldsmith, H. H. (2017). Short- and long-term stability of alpha asymmetry in infants: Baseline and affective measures. Psychophysiology. doi:10.1111/psyp.12866 PMCID: PMC5507748 
Dean III, D. C., Planalp, E. M., Wooten, W., Adluru, N., Kecskemeti, S. R., Frye, C., Schmidt, C. K., Schmidt, N. L., Styner, M. A., Goldsmith, H. H., Davidson, R. J., & Alexander, A. L. (2017). Mapping white matter microstructure in the one month human brain. Scientific Reports7(1), 9759doi:10.1038/s41598-017-09915-6 PMCID: PMC5575288
Williams, L. E., Oler, J. A., Fox, A. S., McFarlin, D. R., Rogers, G. M., Jesson, M. A. L., Davidson, R. J., Pine, D. S., & Kalin, N. H. (2015). Fear of the unknown: Uncertain anticipation reveals amygdala alterations in childhood anxiety disorders. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40, 1428–1435. doi:10.1038/npp.2014.328 PMCID: PMC4397401
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