Rebecca Brady

Program: Neurosciences

Current advisor: Christopher D. Smyser, MD

Undergraduate university: Duke University

Research summary
My research broadly focuses on the relationships between perinatal risk factors, early brain development, and later psychiatric symptoms. As a member of the WUNDER lab, I examined whether living in a high crime neighborhood was related to infants’ brain function and toddlers’ externalizing symptoms, such as aggression and defiance. I also investigated whether maternal stress and parenting behaviors mediated these relationships. In a parallel line of work, I examined the development of callous-unemotional traits, which are defined by deficits in empathy, prosociality, and guilt and are present in a subset of children with externalizing symptoms. I investigated whether neonatal brain function was associated with preschool callous-unemotional traits in a prospective, longitudinal study. I also studied novel risk factors associated with early callous-unemotional traits, such as maternal emotional intelligence. Overall, my work aims to enhance our understanding of disruptive behaviors, identify targets for public health interventions, and spur further research into early identification and biologically informed treatments.

Graduate publications
Brady RG, Rogers CE, Prochaska T, Kaplan S, Lean RE, Smyser TA, Shimony JS, Slavich GM, Warner BB, Barch DM, Luby JL, Smyser CD. 2022 The Effects of Prenatal Exposure to Neighborhood Crime on Neonatal Functional Connectivity. Biol Psychiatry, 92(2):139-48.

Brenner RG, Wheelock MD, Neil JJ, Smyser CD. 2022 Structural and functional connectivity in premature neonates. Semin Perinatol, 45(7):151473.

Brady RG, Donohue MR, Waller R, Tillman R, Gilbert KE, Whalen DJ, Rogers CE, Barch DM, Luby JL. 2022 Maternal emotional intelligence and negative parenting affect are independently associated with callous-unemotional traits in preschoolers. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, ():.

Lean RE, Smyser CD, Brady RG, Triplett RL, Kaplan S, Kenley JK, Shimony JS, Smyser TA, Miller JP, Barch DM, Luby JL, Warner BB, Rogers CE. 2022 Prenatal exposure to maternal social disadvantage and psychosocial stress and neonatal white matter connectivity at birth. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 119(42):e2204135119.

Cyr PEP, Lean RE, Kenley JK, Kaplan S, Meyer DE, Neil JJ, Alexopoulos D, Brady RG, Shimony JS, Rodebaugh TL, Rogers CE, Smyser CD. 2022 Neonatal motor functional connectivity and motor outcomes at age two years in very preterm children with and without high-grade brain injury. Neuroimage Clin, 36():103260.

Barch DM, Hua X, Kandala S, Harms MP, Sanders A, Brady R, Tillman R, Luby JL. 2022 White matter alterations associated with lifetime and current depression in adolescents: Evidence for cingulum disruptions. Depress Anxiety, 39(12):881-890.

Brenner RG, Smyser CD, Lean RE, Kenley JK, Smyser TA, Cyr PEP, Shimony JS, Barch DM, Rogers CE. 2021 Microstructure of the Dorsal Anterior Cingulum Bundle in Very Preterm Neonates Predicts the Preterm Behavioral Phenotype at 5 Years of Age. Biol Psychiatry, 89(5):433-42.


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