Barbara Gay Lecture in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 4/23 | Joan Luby, MD "Early Experience and Brain Development: Informing a New Science of Neurodevelopmental Optimization"

Luby GR

12:00 noon CDT | via Zoom Webinar

"Early Experience and Brain Development:  Informing a New Science of Neurodevelopmental Optimization"


Joan Luby, M.D. is the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry (Child) at the Washington University School of Medicine where she had founded and leads the Early Emotional Development Program.  Dr. Luby specialized in infant/preschool psychiatry and her program of research has focused on early childhood psychopathology and emotional development, specifically in application to the risk trajectory for early onset depressive disorders for almost 30 years. Dr. Luby has conducted some of the first large scale empirical studies of preschool onset depression and provided data on the validity, clinical characteristics, longitudinal course and brain developmental outcomes of early onset depression. With her colleague Deanna Barch, Ph.D. they are in the third cycle of funding of a longitudinal neuroimaging study that investigates behavior and brain development in a study sample enriched for depressive symptoms arising as early as age 3. This study sample includes 5 waves of brain scanning through child and adolescent development. Utilizing this 15-year longitudinal study, we have explored the impact of key psychosocial factors including maternal support and early life adversity on brain and behavioral development. Luby’s studies have established the powerful role of early childhood caregiver support and psychosocial adversity on brain development as well as the mediating role of maternal non-support on alterations in brain and behavioral outcomes related to early exposure to poverty.  More recently, Luby has developed a novel early parent-child intervention for depression that focuses on enhancing emotion development that showed strong effects and neural change.



In this lecture, information about how early experience influences the development of the brain (in animals and human) will be reviewed.  The finding of sensitive periods in development when this phenomenon is more pronounced will be reviewed.  How these findings can be used to inform better health promotion in early childhood by enhancing brain development will be discussed.  The importance of earliest identification of risk for mental disorders will also be discussed in this context.   


This activity is designed to help attendees:

  1. Discuss the interactions between experience and brain development in early childhood.
  2. Explain how this information can directed towards early targeted interventions to enhance mental health.
  3. Describe how growth factors regulate brain circuits relevant to psychiatric disorders.

CME/CE credit for Psychiatry Grand Rounds is only available during the live feed time and for a brief time immediately following. The code for this week's session is displayed at the opening and closing of the meeting and also in the Chair's Office Zoom Account Name during the meeting.


For CME/CE information about this session, please visit:



The webinar can be viewed at the link below:

 Apr 23 Barbara Gay Lecture in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry | Luby


This talk is sponsored by the

Barbara Gay Lecture Fund

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
This educational activity received no commercial support.


Grand Rounds Enrichment Discussion

For a deeper understanding of the topic ahead of Dr. Luby's talk, please join Dr. Meg Benningfield on Wednesday April 21 on Zoom as she delves a little deeper into the subject matter. Background article for discussion for this week can be found here: