Feindel Brain and Mind Seminar Series: Strategic Neuromodulation of Human Memory: New Categories of Memory Mechanisms

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 16:00to17:00
Montreal Neurological Institute De Grandpre Communications Centre, 3801 rue University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2B4, CA

Register here.

Stream via vimeo here.

Alison Adcock

Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, USA

Abstract: The same neurotransmitter systems that fine tune our memories take the multifaceted mental images that embody our hopes and fears and distill them into simple signals. This capability implies that we can regulate our own brain chemistry using imagination. Using fMRI, we have demonstrated that people can indeed learn to activate small nuclei – specifically, those that produce most of the brain’s dopamine -- using nothing but mental imagery. Like the discovery that runners can trigger endorphin release with physical activity, the self-regulation of neurochemistry with mental activity suggests many methods for changing brain function in response to the current moment. Our discovery science investigates brain systems for motivation to better understand memory mechanisms and neurotransmitter systems. Specifically, we aim to delineate the full range of motivational states that shape human learning and their distinct neural architectures, each with a signature impact on learning and on the memories that underlie behavior. Our translational work aims to help define ways to tune a learners’ brain state, matching it precisely to a specific challenge.

Bio: Dr. Adcock received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Emory University and her MD and PhD in Neurobiology from Yale University.  She completed her psychiatry residency training at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute at UC-San Francisco and did neurosciences research as a postdoctoral fellow at UC-SF, the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and Stanford before joining the Duke faculty in 2007. Her work has been funded by NIDA, NIMH, NSF and Alfred P. Sloan and Klingenstein Fellowships in the Neurosciences, and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and honored by NARSAD awards, the 2012 National Academy of Sciences Seymour Benzer Lectureship, and the 2015 ABAI BF Skinner Lectureship. The overall goals of her research program are to understand how brain systems for motivation support learning and to use mechanistic understanding of how behavior changes biology to meet the challenge of developing new therapies appropriate for early interventions for mental illness.

The Feindel Brain and Mind Seminar Series will advance the vision of Dr. William Feindel (1918–2014), Former Director of the Neuro (1972–1984), to constantly bridge the clinical and research realms. The talks will highlight the latest advances and discoveries in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroimaging.

Speakers will include scientists from across The Neuro, as well as colleagues and collaborators locally and from around the world. The series is intended to provide a virtual forum for scientists and trainees to continue to foster interdisciplinary exchanges on the mechanisms, diagnosis and treatment of brain and cognitive disorders.


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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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