Social and environmental determinants of health

April 20, 2022

Understanding neurodevelopment and physiological health in children and adolescents

Along with a variety of collaborators across Columbia Psychiatry, I help conduct an extensive research program using MRI and biological markers to investigate how children’s environments shape their developmental trajectories. Using prospective cohorts of pregnancy and childrearing as well as large population samples like the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, we have ongoing assessments of the role of such diverse exposures as air pollution, maternal SSRI use, cannabis exposure, intergenerational adverse experiences on brain development and physiological functioning. Further studies explore the neurological underpinnings of adolescent mental illness, with specific focus on structural MRI markers of ADHD and functional MRI markers of anorexia nervosa.

Social and environmental dimensions of mental health

The vast heterogeneity of mental health diagnoses and symptoms requires careful consideration of people’s daily context in order to gain understanding. In addition to biological and neurological studies, my collaborators and I seek to elucidate the complex societal processes that can hinder or enhance health in underserved and at-risk communities. This work has revealed that stigma is associated with worse mental health and sleep quality in transgender and non-binary communities, shown that socioeconomic disparities in noise pollution were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and found links between childhood poverty and slower neurodevelopment. Ongoing research extends these efforts to drug and alcohol use, and assesses community interventions to improve important behavioral and health outcomes.

Posted on:
April 20, 2022
2 minute read, 345 words
Mental health Public health
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