Jessica Raper, PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Neurology
Emory University School of Medicine
Emory National Primate Research Center
Jessica Raper, PhD, incorporates techniques from behavioral neuroendocrinology, the neurobiology of stress and developmental neuroscience to examine how early brain perturbation impacts socioemotional behavior and neuroendocrine development in nonhuman primates. Regardless of whether the perturbation is direct, such as a selective neurotoxic brain lesion or the presence of mutant huntingtin gene (HTT) from birth, or indirect, such as neonatal anesthesia exposure or the impact of early adversity (e.g., childhood neglect or abuse), each of these perturbations leads to permanent alteration of behavior and neuroendocrine systems. In addition, many developmental neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia and mood disorders (e.g., depression, posttraumatic stress disorder), exhibit aberrant brain development, emotional dysregulation and atypical neuroendocrine secretions. Dr. Raper, therefore, says it is critical we understand exactly how early brain disturbances lead to altered behavior and neuroendocrine systems.