Junior Faculty Presentations
Julie Kaplow, Ph.D. and Mary Heitzeg, Ph.D.
In the first presentation, researcher Mary Heitzig, Ph. D., presents correlational findings on alcoholism and prefrontal cortex activity. According to various studies, the heritability of alcoholism stands at 55%, and children of alcoholics are 4 times more likely than children of non-alcoholics to become alcoholics themselves. In a series of studies, the prefrontal structure and functioning of children of alcoholics were compared to those of children whose parents are not alcoholics. In an illustrative experiment, results on a go/no-go detection task showed that a family history of alcoholism contributed to lower impulse control and higher tendency to externalize behavior, both functions of the prefrontal brain. In the second presentation, Julie Kaplow, Ph. D., addressed psychiatric symptoms and functioning in parentally bereaved children. Some studies on the topic have found later mental health problems associated with childhood bereavement, while others have not. Kaplow addresses three studies that focus on separation anxiety, childhood traumatic grief, and the development of a model for adaptive and maladaptive grieving.