Seth Pollak

Bascom-Vaughan Distinguished Professor of Psychology

(608) 890-2525

317 Psychology

Research Area(s)
Biology of Brain and Behavior

Lab Website
Child Emotion Research Lab

Research Interest
I approach research on child development from both basic science and applied, public health perspectives. From the vantage point of basic science, my students and I address questions about the interpersonal, cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms that are responsible for the increasingly complex behaviors that children acquire during infancy, early childhood, and into adolescence. My particular area of interest is in understanding how the quantity and quality of early experiences in children’s lives, especially adversity, influences how children think about and process information. Members of our lab group hope to leverage an understanding of how developmental change occurs to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies for children most at risk for emotional, learning and behavior problems. Taken together, the goal of our research is to better understand the role that early experiences in children’s lives have on development of brain structure and function with implications for improving children’s lives.

Representative Publications

(Please see for full list)

Papale, L. A., Seltzer, L. J., Madrid, A., Pollak, S. D., & Alisch, R. S. (2018). Differentially Methylated Genes in Saliva are linked to Childhood Stress. Nature Scientific Reports, 8.

Birn, R., Roeber, B.J., & Pollak, S.D. (2017). Early childhood stress exposure, reward pathways, and adult decision makingProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(51):13549-13554. doi:10.1073/pnas.1708791114

Harms, M.B., Shannon Bowen, K.E., Hanson, J.L., & Pollak, S.D.  (2017). Instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility processes are impaired in children exposed to early life stressDevelopmental Science. e12596.

Hanson, J.L., van den Bos, W., Roeber, B.J., Rudolph, K.D., Davidson, R.J., & Pollak, S.D. (2017). Early adversity and learning: implications for typical and atypical behavioral developmentJ Child Psychol Psychiatry.