NATALIA ORENDAIN
Neuroscience, University of California-Los Angeles
Cohort Seven Fellow
nat.oren@ucla.edu

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Academic Mentor
Susan Bookheimer, PhD
Joaquin Fuster Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California-Los Angeles

Policy Mentor
Paul Chung
Chief of General Pediatrics, University of California-Los Angeles

Areas of Expertise
Formerly Incarcerated Individuals, Youth Development, Longitudinal Data Analysis

BIOGRAPHY

Ms. Orendain is a neuroscience doctoral student at UCLA studying the impact of early life adversity on pubertal maturation and structural neurodevelopment in youth. She is also a creative writing teacher to detained youth in LA County and an active mentor particularly with females and other marginalized groups. Ms. Orendain contributes to the scientific understanding of youth neurodevelopment and pubertal maturation within the context of adversity exposure to inform legislation and policy as it pertains to child welfare and Juvenile Justice System reform. Specifically, she intends to utilize neuroscientific findings to inform law and public policy on culpability and developmentally appropriate rehabilitation for youth.

Ms. Orendain completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Florida and holds a Masters of Public Health with High Distinction from the University of Queensland in Australia. Her research experience includes work on large randomized controlled trials, including phase III and IV clinical drug trials, as well as longitudinal neuroimaging studies, particularly of developing youth.

DISSERTATION

The impact of adversity on structural neurodevelopment: Neural correlates of abuse and deprivation in children and adolescents

Adversity heavily impacts neurodevelopment and subsequent behavior, with exposure during the developmental years translating into an increased risk for psychopathology and poorer health outcomes. Despite extensive research exploring the impact of early life stressors and adversity exposure during development, we do not yet know to what extent exposure to various forms of adversity (i.e., physical, sexual and verbal abuse, and deprivation) impacts brain maturation and regional connectivity in children and adolescents. Furthermore, this impact is likely to differ based upon gender, age of onset, and the duration of adversity exposure. As part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study - a longitudinal neuroimaging study of 10,000 youth - I will quantify the impact of adversity exposure on structural neurodevelopment and regional brain connectivity in children and adolescents aged 9 to 13.