Brain to Society: Decision and Behavior Seminar Series with Dr. Dana Small



A Window on the Mind: Investigating Cognitive Processing through Eye Movements

Dr. Dana Small

Dr. Dana Small is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry and she is the Divisional Director of Nutritional Psychiatry at Yale University. She also founded and directs the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. A psychologist and neuroscientist with graduate degrees from McGill University, her research focuses on chemosensation and ingestive behavior in humans using neuroimaging combined with metabolic, psychophysical and neuropsychological methods. A major focus of current work is understanding the impact of diet on gut-brain signaling, perception and cognition. She has also established a translational - reverse translational program of research through collaborations with colleagues working in mouse models. Dana is Past Program Chair of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and Association of Chemoreception Sciences, Executive Editor of the jour-nals Appetite, Molecular Metabolism and Biological Psychiatry and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Behavior, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences.

About the presentation

Current and traditional models of ingestive behavior implicate the consciously perceived hedonic qualities of food as driving overeating, whereas subliminal signals arising from the gut serve to curb our uncontrolled desire for calories. However, recent evidence suggests that the inverse is true. Evidence from human and animal models will be presented demonstrating that it is the subliminal metabolic signals that ascend to the brain to regulate not only food reinforcement, but also emotional regulation, perception and higher order cognitive functions. The implication is that the gut-brain axis is a promising target for behavioral and neurological interventions.

Panel Discussion: A multi-disciplinary panel will follow the presentation to advance convergence science on the multiscale body, brain and society mechanisms and individual differences underlying eating behavior as well as response to digital and/or physical behavioral, neurological, nutritional, and medical interventions over the lifecourse. Insights for behavioral change and ecosystem transformation at scale for lifelong wellness and resilience will be discussed. The moderator is Prof. Laurette Dubé, Chair and Scientific Director, McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE).

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