What makes each of us unique? Where do these differences come from? How do they contribute to enduring differences in health and wellness? We will selectively review cutting-edge research in humans and non-human animal models aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying lasting differences in personality and their implications for risk and resilience. We will discuss the developmental origins of temperament, measurement issues, fundamental dimensions, mechanisms contributing to stability/plasticity, heritability, implications for psychopathology and therapeutic intervention, as well as broader implications for public policy. A major focus of the course will be the neurobiology of trait-like differences in fear and anxiety, including neural circuits, molecular genetic pathways, and epigenetics. A secondary focus will be on individual differences in behavior and biology that confer elevated risk for the development of depression and impulse control disorders (e.g., substance abuse), including neural circuits involved in hedonic pleasure, reward motivated-behavior, and the regulation of impulses in the face of temptation. An extensive background in biology, genetics, neuroscience, statistics, or other ‘STEM’ fields is not necessary to enjoy and benefit from this course.
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