Early Childhood Depression: What We Know and Where We’re Going

Michael Gaffrey, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, and Director of Duke’s Early Experience and the Developing Brain Lab


A rapidly growing body of data indicates that the origins of depression are developmental in nature and identifiable as early as the preschool period. In this talk, Michael Gaffrey, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University, will discuss the presentation and developmental course of preschool depression, highlight novel neuroimaging findings informing the neurobiological correlates of early risk for depression in young children, and discuss recent work investigating early intervention for preschoolers with depression.

Gaffrey is an assistant professor at Duke University in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. He is also director of Duke’s Early Experience and the Developing Brain lab.

Michael Gaffrey is firmly committed to studying, treating, and advocating for the health and well-being of vulnerable infants and young children. To this end, his research endeavors include the use of behavioral and neuroimaging methodologies to better understand biological pathways underlying risk and resilience to early life stress and related environmental challenges. He is actively involved in using the tools of developmental neuroscience to better understand how preventive intervention programs targeting infants at risk for negative socioemotional outcomes, including depression and autism spectrum disorder, can be used more effectively. Through the integration of clinical practice and innovative research, Gaffrey hopes to reduce the impact of risk factors that contribute to unfavorable health outcomes for vulnerable infants and families.

Gaffrey believes we can better foster healthy environments for growing children and ensure the well-being of all infants and families by bringing objective research and practice-based knowledge to policy and public arenas.

He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental clinical and affective neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The Early Childhood Initiative seeks to bring together scholars to address early childhood challenges and produce world-class scholarship that will help maximize the potential of all children during their early years.