Sulzberger Colloquium featuring Seth Pollak

Early Adversity and Children’s Learning: Development, biology, and risk

October 27, 2016
12:00 PM-1:30 PM

This talk is open to Sanford School of Public Policy faculty, researchers, staff and invited guests.

How is the brain shaped and refined by children’s early social experience? In this colloquium Seth Pollak will focus on the development of children who have endured environments marked by high levels of stress. These children are at increased risk for a variety of health, academic, and social problems that present humanitarian concerns and a public health burden. Pollak will highlight recent research involving children who have experienced child abuse and neglect, children raised in poverty, children raised in institutional settings, children who have endured traumatic life experiences, and typically developing children. These studies generate new insights about the emergence of both adaptive and maladaptive human behaviors. Specifying ways in which the environments to which children are exposed effects brain and behavioral development holds tremendous promise for improving the health and well-being of children.

Seth Pollak is the Letters and Science Distinguished Professor of psychology and professor of pediatrics, anthropology, neuroscience, and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He earned dual Ph.D.s from the University of Rochester in brain & cognitive sciences and in child clinical psychology before completing an internship in pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Toronto.

Pollak’s research focuses on the influences of social risk factors on children’s brain and behavioral development, with particular focus on children’s emotions, early learning, and health.

Previously, Pollak was a visiting professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute, a visiting fellow at the American Academy in Rome, and a visiting scientist in pediatric neuroscience at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome. He received a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship in developmental psychopathology, the Boyd-McCandless Award for Distinguished Contributions to Child Development, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Early Career Award, and the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Wisconsin. Pollak is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science. He currently serves on the governing council of the Society for Research in Child Development. His research is supported by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.