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Inflammation is a hot mess: Linking early environments with physical and mental health

Colloquium | October 23 | 12:10-1:10 p.m. | 3105 Tolman Hall

Michelle Byrne, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon

Department of Psychology

Global disease burden in recent years has shifted from premature death to years lived with disability. Non-communicable, chronic diseases are more responsible for these years lost and cost of health care treatment than any other type of illness or disease. Many of these chronic diseases, such as heart disease, obesity, and depression, have links with chronic inflammation. However, the psychosocial factors related to this process are understudied, even though we know that inflammation responds to psychological as well as physical stress.

In this talk, I propose that it is especially important to examine these processes during sensitive periods of brain development, such as adrenarche, gonadarche, and infancy. I present multifaceted data showing associations between inflammation, depression, brain activity, and obesity during childhood and adolescence, as well as lay out evidence suggesting that the family environment is implicated in these associations. Furthermore, I discuss how, although these processes are complicated and messy, identification of modifiable risk factors during development could be targeted for scalable interventions and prevention of chronic diseases.