Nearly a third of us will suffer from a mental illness during the course of our life, and many will experience comorbid physical health problems (e.g., gastrointestinal disorders). Early life experiences are known to shape both physical and mental health, however, the precise mechanisms by which such shaping occurs have yet to be established. My program of research examines how different early life experiences influence interactions between physical and mental health across the lifespan. In the Brain and Body Lab (BaBLab) we undertake such analyses at the level of behavior, neural systems (using fMRI), gastrointestinal bacteria and health (i.e., the microbiome), and physiology (e.g., gastric function, heart rate, skin conductance). It is our goal to use this research to create better mental and physical health treatments across development, informed by psychological functioning, trauma history, and central and peripheral biology.
Dr. Bridget Callaghan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA who studies interactions between mental and physical health across development. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, her Masters in Clinical Psychology, and her Ph.D. at the University of New South Wales, in Australia. She has worked clinically in the field of developmental psychology, and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University in New York in 2019. Dr. Callaghan’s research has been generously funded through the National Institutes of Mental Health, Brain Behavior Research Foundation, and National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. She has active collaborations with researchers at New York University, and the University of New South Wales and Sydney Children’s Hospital in Australia.