Neuroscience, University of California-Los Angeles
Cohort Seven Fellow


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
Mental Health and Well-Being, Prevention Science, Youth Development, Longitudinal Data Analysis, Regression Modeling, Adolescents and Young Adults, School-aged Children


Natalia Orendain is a neuroscience doctoral candidate at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California- Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the impact of adversity exposure on structural neurodevelopment and subsequent risk for psychopathology and youth incarceration. She intends to utilize neuroscientific findings to inform law and public policy on culpability and developmentally appropriate rehabilitation. Natalia holds a BS in Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Florida and an MPH from the University of Queensland, Australia.


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.