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The Department of Human Development Colloquium Series Presents:

Dr. Nathan Fox, University of Maryland

“Sensitive periods in human development: Evidence from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project”

Over 30 years ago, William Greenough, a neuroscientist then at University of Illinois- Champaign, proposed a distinction between different types of early experience that affect brain development. One set of experiences he called expectant (“expected” by the brain for typical development); a second he called dependent, that is, they depend upon variations in the quality of the environment and may differ from context to context. Both experience expectant and experience dependent events have their greatest impact during particular windows of time of brain maturation. These periods are what is called sensitive periods. The idea that there are sensitive periods in development is well accepted in neuroscience but less so in developmental psychology although there is general agreement that the quality of early experiences has a great impact on subsequent development. In my talk, I will review evidence for sensitive periods and the influence of early experience on brain development and illustrate with examples from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.