Mini-Science public talk: The adolescent brain

Tuesday, May 10, 2022 19:00to20:00
Cecilia Flores et Anna Weinberg

Cecilia Flores (Dept. of Psychiatry, Dept. of Neurology & Neurosurgery, Douglas Research Centre) and Anna Weinberg (Dept. of Psychology)

Adolescence is an age of increased vulnerability to mental illness, but we still know very little about the cellular and molecular process ongoing during adolescent brain development and how they are impacted by experience, including drugs of abuse and stressors. This talk focuses on the emerging role of axonal guidance cues in the maturation of the prefrontal cortex in adolescence and its implications for psychiatric susceptibility and resilience. The speakers will discuss findings from rodent and human studies showing that risk and protective factors target guidance cue systems in adolescence, altering the organization of prefrontal cortex connectivity and cognitive function in adulthood. They will emphasize that the direction, magnitude, and consequences of these effects vary between males and females and depend on the specific adolescent period.

Cecilia Flores, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and an Associate Member in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. The overall theme of her research is the neurobiology of brain development in adolescence and how it is impacted by stressors and drugs of abuse. Using multidisciplinary and translational approaches, her team has demonstrated that a set of guidance cue genes and their epigenetic regulators orchestrate the development of the
prefrontal cortex in adolescence and are tightly linked to substance use disorder and major depression in humans. Her work has been consistently funded by international and national agencies, including NIH and CIHR.

Anna Weinberg, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Canada Research Chair in Clinical Neuroscience at McGill University. She is also the lab director at the Translational Research in Affect and Cognition lab (TRAC lab). Her research there focuses on cognitive-affective processes that give rise to psycho-pathology using event-related potentials (ERPs).The goal of this research is to identify biological pathways that give rise to disordered emotional experience. In particular, the work focuses on depression and anxiety.

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