ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
The Family and the Brain: An Integrated Circuit returns for a second time to the Bowen Center’s conference schedule. The first conference on this topic in 2005 produced a dynamic two-day exchange among participants and brought the most current scientific knowledge to the discussion.
The upcoming 2012 conference promises to be equally dynamic and challenging. It brings a new group of scientists, researchers, and leaders in the study of family systems, to continue the exploration of the interplay of genes and the environment, behavioral neuroscience, neurobiology, evolutionary and developmental psychology, and family stress and child health.
As the pace of scientific discovery continues to accelerate in these areas, old established notions are falling. Alvin Toffler expressed it well when he said “Change is the process by which the future invades the present.”
The Family and the Brain: An Integrated Circuit provides us all with an opportunity to keep up with these changes and their implications. Audience and speakers alike are vital to the success of a conference like this. We invite you to come, participate, and contribute to making this exchange great!
Welcome and Introduction
Family Emotional Process and Development - Daniel V. Papero, PhD, MSSW
Bowen theorists often invoke the term family emotional process to generally describe processes within the family that reflect the functioning of the family as a unit. This talk will describe family emotional process from the broadest perspective possible and relate its potential effects on the process of human development.
Effects of Fathers on Puberty and Sexual Behavior in Daughters: Establishing Causation - Bruce Ellis, PhD
Paternal investment theory posits that girls detect and internally encode information specifically about the quality of paternal investment in childhood as a basis for calibrating the development of (a) neurophysiologic systems involved in timing of pubertal maturation and (b) related motivational systems, which make certain types of sexual behavior more or less likely in adolescence. Quasi-experimental data evaluating these core assumptions of paternal investment theory will be presented.
Bowen Theory and Regulation of Reactivity - Victoria Harrison, MA
Bowen theory recognizes that biology and behavior within the individual are regulated by reactivity to relationships in the family. This presentation will illustrate the operation of emotional reactivity, relationships and differentiation of self in the health and functioning in one family example.
Face to Face with the Emotional Brain - Paul Whalen, PhD
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Dr. Whalen studies how the brain responds to environmental cues that might indicate danger, like the facial expressions of others. His work focuses on the activity of a small brain structure called the amygdala and how it explains individual differences in normal and abnormal levels of anxiety.
Family Process and Conceptualizing Individual Variation in Reactivity - Robert Noone, PhD
The concepts of the multigenerational emotional process and differentiation of self will be discussed in relation to recent observations and concepts emerging in neuroscience. The theory of the family developed by Bowen will be discussed as a theory with the potential to integrate developing knowledge about the interacting genetic, epigenetic, and environmental regulation of phenotypic stress reactivity and adaptiveness.
Hormones in the Wild: Mother-Child Synchrony to Coalitionary Bonds - Mark Flinn, PhD
Results from a longitudinal study of family relationships indicate that synchrony of mother-infant hormone profiles is associated with subsequent child health and other developmental outcomes. We are interested in the process of entrainment in family relationships and the ramifications for the coalitionary behaviors of humans.
The Family Stress Response - Michael E. Kerr, MD
The concept of homeostasis applies to the family as well as the body of a living organism. The brain activates the body’s stress response to restore a bodily equilibrium that has been disturbed. Similarly, a disturbance in the equilibrium of a family activates a family stress response to restore the balance. The two stress response systems are interrelated.
Early Face-to-Face Interactions between Rhesus Monkey Mothers and Infants: Individual Differences and Developmental Consequences - Stephen Suomi, PhD
Differences in early social attachment experiences systematically interact with allelic variation in several “candidate” genes to produce distinctive behavioral and biological outcomes in rhesus monkeys. Recent findings suggest that mother-infant face-to-face interactions during the first postnatal month may significantly contribute to such gene-environment interactions.
Mothering, Reward, and Executive Function in Rat and Human Mothers - Alison Fleming, PhD
This presentation will describe the role of the brain and of executive function in the regulation of mothering in new mothers. It will also explore the variety of ways the early experiences in their families of origin influences their own mothering. Both rodent and human studies will be discussed.
Neurobiology of Relationship Processes in High- Risk Families - Elizabeth Skowron, PhD
Consistent with the effects of chronic stress on children's development, alterations in stress physiology have been observed in maltreated children and their parents. Findings are presented from a five-year NIMH-funded study focused on understanding relationships between child maltreatment and parent and child physiology and self-regulation in the preschool years. Results are reported and interpreted in the context of Bowen theory and existing research on stress physiology in high risk populations.