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Notre Dame Symposium to Address Early Human Experience

mother baby

The University of Notre Dame’s Center for Children and Families is hosting a symposium, Human Nature and Early Experience: Addressing the ‘Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness,’ October 10 to 12 (Sunday to Tuesday) at McKenna Hall on Notre Dame’s campus.

An international collection of renowned scholars from several disciplines will present research on the psychological, anthropological, and biological conditions related to the optimal brain and body system development in human beings.

Experts’ presentations will reexamine the influence of early experience on child outcomes, and how human beings’ emotions develop and function. There is growing evidence that particular childrearing practices positively or negatively impact brain development, and evidence that the ways we are rearing our children today are not the ways humans are designed to thrive.

Notre Dame Anthropology Professor Agustin Fuentes; James McKenna, the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Professor of Anthropology and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Lab; and Notre Dame Psychology Professor Darcia F. Narvaez are among the scholars who will speak at the event.

Narvaez will discuss three recent studies she led that show a relationship between child rearing practices common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies (how we humans have spent about 99 percent of our history) and better mental health, greater empathy and conscience development, and higher intelligence in children.

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