Karen J. Parker

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Among people exposed to major psychological stressors in early life, there are elevated rates of morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases of aging. The most compelling data come from studies of children raised in poverty or maltreated by their parents, who show heightened vulnerability to vascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and premature mortality.(More)
The nonapeptide oxytocin and its receptor have been implicated in the regulation of mammalian social behavior and stress physiology. Evidence is accumulating that the quality of the parental environment is associated with oxytocin biology in children. The present study was designed to examine the interaction of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)(More)
The stress inoculation hypothesis presupposes that brief intermittent stress exposure early in life induces the development of subsequent stress resistance in human and nonhuman primates. Rodent studies, however, suggest a role for maternal care rather than stress exposure per se (i.e., the maternal mediation hypothesis). To investigate these two(More)
A consistent finding in biological psychiatry is that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis physiology is altered in humans with major depression. These findings include hypersecretion of cortisol at baseline and on the dexamethasone suppression test. In this review, we present a process-oriented model for HPA axis regulation in major depression.(More)
BACKGROUND Retrospective studies in humans have identified characteristics that promote stress resistance, including childhood exposure to moderately stressful events (ie, stress inoculation). OBJECTIVE Because of limited opportunities for prospective studies in children, we tested whether exposure to moderate stress early in life produces later stress(More)
In humans, consolidation of wakefulness into a single episode can be modeled as the interaction of two processes, a homeostatic "hour-glass" wake signal that declines throughout the daytime and a circadian wake-promoting signal that peaks in the evening. Hypocretins, novel hypothalamic neuropeptides that are dysfunctional in the sleep disorder narcolepsy,(More)
Stressful experiences during early-life can modulate the genetic programming of specific brain circuits underlying emotional and cognitive aspects of behavioral adaptation to stressful experiences later in life. Although this programming effect exerted by experience-related factors is an important determinant of mental health, its outcome depends on(More)
The goal of this investigation was to examine plasma amino acid (AA) levels in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD, N = 27) and neuro-typically developing controls (N = 20). We observed reduced plasma levels of most polar neutral AA and leucine in children with ASD. This AA profile conferred significant post hoc power for discriminating children(More)
This article examines the complex role of early stressful experiences in producing both vulnerability and resilience to later stress-related psychopathology in a variety of primate models of human development. Two types of models are reviewed: Parental Separation Models (e.g., isolate-rearing, peer-rearing, parental separations, and stress inoculation) and(More)
Although social stress inhibits neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus, the extent to which individual differences in stress-related behavior affect hippocampal cell proliferation is not well understood. Based on results from resident-intruder stress tests administered to adult male mice, here we report that individual differences in hippocampal cell(More)