Intergenerational Neuroimaging


Parents have a significant, but poorly understood, role in their children’s brain development. Intergenerational influences from parents to their offspring include both heritable factors, such as genes, and distinct environmental factors, such as the prenatal intrauterine environment and postnatal environment. Our brain imaging and behavioral data from parents and their naturally-conceived children have provided new insights into intergenerational effects on reading and regions of the brain involved in emotion regulation.

The next phase of this research is a novel effort to dissociate the different sources of intergenerational effects on the brain, cognition, language and socio-emotional skills by contrasting parent-offspring pairs from natural conception, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and adoptive families.  

The project goals are:

  • To examine how behavioral and brain characteristics are shared between parents and their offspring.
  • Use a combination of homologous, donor and surrogate IVF families as a human analogue of animal cross-fostering studies, to help bridge animal and human research.

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Supported by a UCSF Academic Senate Junior Investigator Award.