Course Detail
Units:
3.0
Course Components:
Lecture
Enrollment Information
Enrollment Requirement:
Prerequisites: "C" or better in (PSY 1010 OR PSY 1011 OR AP Psychology score of 3 or higher OR IB Psychology score of 5 or higher).
Description
How do exposures to stress impact our development? In this course we examine how environmental information in general, and early life stress in particular, “gets under the skin” to shape human development. The course begins with an overview of basic evolutionary-developmental principles as a foundation for understanding how the developing person adapts their physiology and behavior to different social and physical conditions (what is called developmental programming). To illustrate this process, we will examine fetal and infant development as a case study—to demonstrate how the child employs environmental information early in life to guide different developmental pathways. Because all environmental effects on development operate through alterations in brain systems, we will turn next to an overview of brain structure and development, with a particular emphasis on systems involved in responding to stress. Resilience, as a key to understanding risks for emotional and physical health and for creating successful interventions, will receive careful consideration. We will also discuss how early-life family experiences shape the neurobiology of fatherhood (in adults) and how, in turn, quality of fathering affects the biosocial development of children. Then we will tackle one of the great challenges in developmental science: understanding how genes and environments interact to shape individual differences. To achieve this, we closely examine processes of basic genetics, epigenetics (related to gene expression), and how epigenetics is linked to stress regulation. This will involve a careful examination of neuroendocrine stress response systems and their role in development and health (i.e., stress-health relationships). We will conclude with an application of these issues to pubertal development and the adolescent transition. An evolutionary-developmental approach—the application of the basic principles of evolutionary theory, and particularly life history theory, to explain contemporary human development and its variations—will provide an integrative theoretical framework for drawing together the different course topics.