Hebb Lecture Series

The D.O. Hebb Lecture Series was initiated in 1989 in memory of Hebb’s contribution to the science of behavior. Invited speakers of the D.O. Lecture series are scientists who have made distinguished empirical contributions to basic research in all areas of psychology. It is currently made possible by the generous support of the D.O. Hebb Endowment Memorial Fund.

Most speakers also deliver an informal seminar held in the morning.

All main lectures from 3.30 - 5:00 pm. Lectures are followed by a Wine and Cheese Reception in the Atrium of the Bellini Life Sciences Complex (3649 Promenade Sir William Osler). Admission is free. 

2017 - 2018 Hebb Lectures

September 15, 2017 - Location: MCMED 522

Patrick J. Curran

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill





TitleIntegrative Data Analysis: A Promising Methodological Framework for Data Harmonization

Abstract:  Integrative data analysis (IDA) is a powerful methodological framework that allows for the fitting of statistical models to raw data that have been pooled across two or more independent samples. Advantages of IDA include increased statistical power, higher observed frequencies of rare behavior, enhanced external validity due to greater between-subject heterogeneity, extended developmental coverage through overlapping cohorts, testing novel hypotheses that cannot be evaluated within a single contributing study, and building a more cumulative and reproducible science. There are also methodological challenges associated with IDA including the need to account for sampling heterogeneity across studies, to develop commensurate measures based on items that are unique to a single study or shared across multiple studies, and to account for multiple sources of study differences as they impact hypothesis testing. In this talk I will present a general overview of IDA, explore the potential advantages and disadvantages of IDA as a novel and timely research tool, present an example of IDA as applied to internalizing symptomatology in children with and without an alcoholic parent, and describe future avenues for developing IDA as a general methodological framework within the psychological sciences.


October 13, 2017 - Location: MCMED 522

Frances E. Aboud

Department of Psychology, McGill University

Professor Emerita 






TitleThe McGill Ethiopia Salt Project: effects of iodizing salt on children’s cognitive functioning

Abstract:  Insufficient iodine in one’s diet is thought to be the main cause of preventable cognitive delay around the world. Most countries lack environmental iodine; some add it to salt, though many people still buy un-iodized salt. What impact is this having on children’s ability to learn and think? Ethiopia did not produce iodized salt until 2011 when legislation was passed to make all salt iodized. This provided an opportunity to conduct a cluster randomized effectiveness study to examine the effects on cognitive development of introducing iodized salt to infants and to children 4 to 6 years of age in Ethiopia, where there were reportedly high levels of iodine deficiency. The challenges of randomizing villages, monitoring the gradual fortification and distribution of iodized salt, measuring cognitive development in infants and preschool-aged children, transporting a team of local research assistants across the mountains of Amhara, and reporting results back to the government were managed. Findings show that even in a resource-poor setting, where children lack adequate nutrition and psychosocial stimulation, iodized salt benefits children’s cognitive functioning.

January 26, 2018 - Location: MCMED 504

Steve HollonSteven Hollon

Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University






About: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/psychological_sciences/bio/steven-hollon

Title: Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy Enduring or Antidepressant Medications Iatrogenic?

Abstract: Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) appears to have an enduring effect that reduces risk for subsequent symptom return by half relative to antidepressant medication (ADM) following treatment termination. However, these conclusions are wholly derived from direct comparisons between prior CBT versus prior ADM. Findings from the extended maintenance phase of our most recent trial suggest that CBT provided in combination with ADM does little to prevent subsequent recurrence. These findings raise the concern that adding ADM may interfere with the enduring effects of CBT as they do in panic. Moreover, depression appears to have “coarsened” over recent decades and there are concerns that ADM may suppress symptoms at the expense of prolonging the underlying episode. ADMs are known to work by perturbing the complex homeostatic regulatory systems that underlie affective response and differences in that perturbation are associated with risk for relapse following medication discontinuation. It remains unclear whether CBT truly has an enduring effect or ADMs an iatrogenic effect that interferes with CBT’s enduring effect or (worse) prolongs the length of the underlying episode. Studies are described that could resolve this issue and their implications.


March 23, 2018 - Location: MCMED 522

Wendy Barry MendesWendy Berry Mendes

Department of Psychiatry,
University of California, San Francisco




About:  https://healthpsychology.ucsf.edu/wendy-berry-mendes-phd

TitleAffect contagion: Physiologic covariation among strangers and close others

Abstract:  Emotions, thoughts, and intentions are not simply concepts that live privately in one’s minds, but rather, affective states emanate from us via multiple channels – voice, posture, facial expressions, and behavior – and influence those around us. Affect contagion, or the spread of affective states—including stress, emotions, motivation—from one person to another, is studied in a variety of ways in the social sciences: sociologists find that happiness is contagious within social networks, social psychologists show that mimicking others behaviors increases liking, and neuroscientists demonstrate that observing someone experience pain may produce similar neural activation as experiencing pain. In this talk I will discuss a series of experiments exploring the antecedents and consequences of affect contagion using dynamic psychophysiological measurement. The experiments include ones focusing on mothers and children and explore how infants (12 to 14 month olds) “catch” their mothers’ stress reactivity and how touch potentiates stress contagion. Another series of experiments explore how recently acquainted individuals can catch each others’ affective state and how moderators such as racial/ethnic group, social standing, valence and empathetic tendencies moderate affect contagion.



April 13, 2018 - Location: MCMED 522

Jerome Busemeyer

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University





About:  http://psych.indiana.edu/faculty/jbusemey.php

TitleWhat Is Quantum Cognition, and How Is It Applied to Psychology?

Abstract:  Quantum cognition is a new research program that uses principles from quantum theory as a framework to explain human cognition, including judgment and decision making, and conceptual reasoning. This research is not concerned with whether the brain is a quantum computer. Instead, it uses quantum theory as a fresh conceptual framework and a coherent set of formal tools for explaining puzzling empirical findings in psychology. In this introduction, I will focus on two quantum principles as examples to show why quantum cognition is an appealing new theoretical direction for psychology: complementarity, which suggests that some psychological measures have to be made sequentially and that the context generated by the first measure can influence responses to the next one, producing measurement order effects, and superposition, which suggests that some psychological states cannot be defined with respect to definite values but, instead, that all possible values within the superposition have some potential for being expressed. I will present evidence showing how these two principles work together to provide a coherent explanation for many divergent and puzzling phenomena in psychology.