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January 19, 2008, 2:30 PM

The Development of Temperament During the First Three Years of Human Life

Participants: Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, Sue Carter, Frances Champagne, Susan Coates, Donald Pfaff (moderator), Daniel Schechter

Events early in life shape patterns of behavior that may remain stable through the rest of life. While the determination of psychosexual characteristics forms a solid core of psychoanalytic theory, the subject of early environmental influences on adult behavior also has received attention from experimental psychologists and neuroscientists. Some of the prominent authors on human behavior include Jerome Kagan and Mary Rothbart; and on animal behavior, Seymour Levine and Michael Meaney. This roundtable seeks to encompass both of these realms. Importantly, because there are many unanswered questions in this area of behavioral and neural science, the participants and audience may be able to come up with new, testable ideas.

Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern is a pediatrician and child psychiatrist. She is the director of the Brazelton Centre of Switzerland. Her clinical work and teaching concern the very beginning of the parent-infant relationship. She is also a member of the "Boston Change Process Study Group" and has received a Prize for Scientific Research for Prevention in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in Switzerland. Dr. Bruschweiler-Stern is co-author with Daniel Stern of the book The Birth of a Mother: How the Motherhood Experience Changes You Forever.

Sue Carter is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Director of the Brain Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research program, which has focused on socially monogamous mammals, has described new roles for neuropeptide hormones, including oxytocin and vasopressin, in social bonding, aggression and emotional regulation. She is currently interested in the developmental effects of these peptides, which may modulate long-lasting effects of early experience and also social deprivation on the brain and behavior. Dr. Carter has authored over 225 publications, including editorship of 5 books, the most recent of which is Attachment and Bonding; A New Synthesis.

Frances Champagne is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University, where she has developed a research group to investigate maternal regulation of epigenetic modifications. Professor Champagne received her graduate training at McGill University, completing a Master's degree in the Department of Psychiatry and a Ph.D with Dr. Michael Meaney in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. Her thesis research involved an exploration of the neurobiology of individual differences in maternal behavior in rodents and the epigenetic mechanisms mediating the transmission of maternal care across generations. She continued her research at the University of Cambridge, studying the role of genomic imprinting in reproductive behavior.

Susan Coates is a Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Psychiatry Department at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. She is a member of the teaching faculty at the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, where she was also a founding director of the Parent Infant Program. Dr. Coates has a long standing interest in intergenerational transfer of trauma. With Dan Schechter and Jane Rosenthal, she edited the book September 11: Trauma and Human Bonds, in which she describes her work with parents and children in the family assistance center after the 9/11 attacks.

Donald Pfaff is Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at The Rockefeller University. He is a brain scientist who uses neuroanatomical, neurochemical and neurophysiological methods to study the cellular mechanisms by which the brain controls behavior. Dr. Pfaff is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, a member of the Advisory Board of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals.

Daniel Schechter is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Pediatrics at the Columbia University Medical Center. A child psychiatrist specializing in early childhood and parenting issues, he serves on the faculty of the Parent-Infant Program of the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center, where he is also the newly named Director of Child Research. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including an American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Pilot Research Award, a Significant Contribution to Research Award from the International Psychoanalytical Association, and an NIMH Research Career Award, the focus of which is maternal post-traumatic stress disorder and its potential impact on caring for very young children.


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