My laboratory is studying the molecular mechanisms by which events early in life modify neurodevelopment and how these neurodevelopmental changes alter brain function and behavior in adult mice. This work bridges behavioral and developmental neuroscience, two experimental approaches that traditionally have not been integrated. For example, behavioral neuroscientists study how manipulations of the adult brain modify adult behavior, but have paid little attention to how circuits that program this behavior are assembled during development. Similarly,developmental biologists focus on how circuits are formed during early development, but have traditionally shied away from exploring how these developmental changes modify behavior in adulthood. This artificial chasm is reflected in the way we practice medicine (pediatric vs. adult medicine), psychiatry (child vs. adult psychiatry), and our basic science and translational approaches to understanding behavior.
I currently have two active projects in my lab. The first project is looking at the molecular mechanisms by which exposure to stress during the perinatal period (first 3 weeks of life)modifies brain development and behavior in adulthood. The second project examines how developmental changes during the juvenile period (i.e. 4th-7thweeks of life) program adult behavior with a particular focus on the role that juvenile neurogenesis plays in social development.
- Kaffman A, Krystal J. New Frontiers in Animal Research of Psychiatric Illness. In: Kobeissy FH, editor. Psychiatric Disorders: Methods and Protocols: Springer; In press.
- Wei L, Simen A, Mane S, Kaffman A. Early life stress inhibits expression of a novel innate immune pathway in the developing hippocampus. Neuropsychopharmacology. (2011) Oct 12. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.239. [Epub ahead of print]
- Wei L, Meaney MJ, Duman RS, Kaffman A. Affiliative behavior requires juvenile, but not adult neurogenesis. J. Neuroscience. (2011) Oct 5;31(40):14335-45.
- Jackowski A, Perera TD, Abdallah CG, Garrido G, Tang CY, Martinez J, Mathew SJ, Gorman JM, Rosenblum LA, Smith EL, Dwork AJ, Shungu DC, Kaffman A, Gelernter J, Coplan JD, Kaufman J. Early-life stress, corpus callosum development, hippocampal volumetrics, and anxious behavior in male nonhuman primates. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging. (2011) Apr 30;192(1):37-44. Epub 2011 Mar 5. NIHMS254578
- Wei L, David A, Duman RS, Anisman H, Kaffman A. (2010). Early life stress increases anxiety-like behavior in Balbc mice despite a compensatory increase in levels of postnatal maternal care. Hormones and Behavior. 57(4-5):396-404. PMC2849915.
- Kaffman, A., and Meaney, M.J. (2007). Neurodevelopmental Sequelae of Postnatal Maternal Care in Rodents: Clinical and Research Implications of Molecular Insights. J. of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Annual Reviews 48:3/4, 224-244.