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"The Phylogeny of Developmental Vulnerability: A New, Species-Spanning Understanding of Adolescent Social Anxiety, Stress Eating and Sexual Vulnerability"
Across chordate species, individual in the same developmental phase of live are vulnerable to strikingly similar biological, environmental and social dangers. Patterns of developmental vulnerability across taxa can be discerned from built phylogenies which also reveal numerous evolved adaptive strategies. This lecture uses broad comparative and phylogenetic lenses to connect modern adolescent challenges —social anxiety, stress eating and vulnerability to sexual coercion—to the life histories and biologies of our adolescent animal ancestors.
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, M.D., develops bio-inspired strategies for understanding and addressing human health challenges. Her work focuses on the natural world and evolutionary biology as sources of insight for health and development. A visiting professor in Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and professor of medicine in the UCLA Division of Cardiology, she co-directs the UCLA Evolutionary Medicine Program.
Studying a diverse range of animals in natural settings, she has uncovered evolved adaptations with relevance to heart failure, sudden cardiac death, seizures, dementia, movement disorders, infertility and psychiatric conditions including anxiety, compulsive and eating disorders.
Her most recent research focuses on species-wide patterns in development across critical transitional periods of life including the adolescent to adult transition. She is actively involved with education teaching undergraduates and graduate students at UCLA and Harvard developing courses which use evolutionary and comparative approaches to help medical students better understand physical and mental illnesses.