AS4SAN 2018 Conference Speakers
Prof. Raymond Chan
Title: Hedonic processing impairments in clinical and subclinical samples: Convergent evidence from findings of self-reported, behavioural and imaging paradigms.
Schizophrenia is associated with a wide range of cognitive and emotional impairments including the reduced ability to experience pleasure and happiness, namely anhedonia. Anhedonia is one of the key negative symptoms affecting the ultimate functional outcome and has an adverse impact on quality of life for patients with schizophrenia. Yet, very little is known about whether at-risk individuals for psychosis will also show similar deficits in experiencing pleasure and happiness. The current presentation will seek to examine the ability of experiencing pleasure in individuals at-risk for psychosis by using a 2-facet framework of anhedonia, namely the anticipatory and consummatory pleasure. I shall provide evidence that these at-risk individuals have already demonstrated subtle behavioural manifestations and structural brain and functional connectivity abnormalities. These findings are consistent with the impairment of the “social brain” system observed in patients with established schizophrenia and highlight the need for early identification and corresponding intervention for assisting these individuals to cope with their daily functioning.
Prof. Raymond Chan has been conducting research actively in neuropsychology and mental health, particularly in understanding cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia and its underlying psychopathology. He is now a distinguished professor of neuropsychology and applied cognitive neuroscience at the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is also the honorary director for research at the Institute of Mental Health, Castle Peak Hospital (Hong Kong) and honorary director for the Translational Neuropsychology and Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the Shanghai Mental Health Centre, and honorary professor at the Department of Psychiatry, the University of Hong Kong. His research record has earned him the Distinguished Young Scientist Award from the National Science Foundation China, Young Investigator Award from NARSAD, and the Distinguished Griffith Visiting Researcher. He is also an elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2017. He is the Regional Representative for Asia for the International Neuropsychological Society. He holds numerous funds from various funding agents, including the National Science Foundation of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, NARSAD, and the Smart Futures Fund (QLD), National and International Research Alliances Program. Prof. Chan has published over 300 scientific peer-reviewed articles and 6 book chapters dealing with schizophrenia research and traumatic brain injury. He is currently serving at the editorial boards of “Schizophrenia Bulletin”, “Neuropsychology”, “Scientific Reports”, “Psychiatry Research”, “Clinical Rehabilitation”, “Cognitive Neuropsychiatry”, and “Neuropsychological Rehabilitation” and four local professional journals.
Dr. Dhanisha Jhaveri
Title: Neural mechanisms of anxiety and depression: What do animal models tell us?
Disruption in neuronal function in key brain regions is believed to underpin major neuropsychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. However, our mechanistic understanding is limited, and finding effective treatments remains a major challenge. Although, it is difficult to fully recapitulate the human condition in preclinical models, animal models are both useful and necessary to investigate causality and to provide insights into the neural circuitry regulating anxiety and depression-associated behavioural deficits. In this talk, I will review the anatomical and functional connectivity of the hippocampus and amygdala in the regulation of emotion and cognition. In particular, I will discuss the role of adult neurogenesis - the production and integration of new neurons, which has emerged as a vital player in the regulation of these fundamental brain functions. I will present our findings that demonstrate the regulation and function of distinct populations of neural stem/precursor cells in the hippocampus and highlight our recent discovery that has found newly generated neurons in the basolateral amygdala of adult mice. These findings together with our current efforts in utilising a mouse model of depression/anxiety now provide the framework for not only understanding the function of these adult-born neurons but also for manipulating their activity to regulate circuitry and behaviour.
Dr Dhanisha Jhaveri has a joint appointment at Mater Research and the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and is a Mater Foundation Senior Research Fellow. She leads the research group investigating the fundamental mechanisms that drive the renewal of neurons in the adult brain with the goal of harnessing this form of neural plasticity to relieve the emotional and cognitive deficits associated with anxiety and depression.
Dhanisha received her PhD from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India, where she unravelled the molecular mechanisms that wire the olfactory axons in the fly (Drosophila) brain. In recognition of her doctoral work she was awarded the Indian National Science Academy medal for Young Scientist of the Year in 2003. She then joined the laboratory of Professor Perry Bartlett at the Queensland Brain Institute as a Human Frontiers Science Program Postdoctoral Fellow. Her discoveries have transformed our understanding of the neural stem cell regulation in the adult brain. In particular, her work uncovered that a subclass of antidepressants directly activates neural stem cells in the hippocampus, a brain region implicated in regulating mood and cognitive functions. She also pioneered the development of a new cell sorting protocol to purify neural stem cells which has provided an unprecedented opportunity to unravel the regulatory mechanisms. More recently, her research demonstrated that new neurons are generated in the adult amygdala, a brain region implicated in emotion processing.
Dr. Emma Burrows
Title: Translational behaviour in preclinical mouse models of brain disease.
Despite highly promising preclinical data, the majority of compounds developed to treat brain diseases fail to progress to end stage clinical trials. The reasons behind this failure are multifaceted. The absence of overt biomarkers to monitor response to treatments in real-time and to characterise the translatability of preclinical animal models is a large obstacle. Brain disorders are diagnosed by behavioural criteria and correlates in animal models are approximate and do not reflect methods used in clinical populations. Emma will discuss recent advances in the use of technology for assessing behavioural changes in mouse models with a focus on direct translation to clinical studies. Emma’s research spans both psychiatric and neurological disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Emma Burrows is a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow and leads a research program at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health aiming to understand the neurobiology underlying cognitive disorders. After completing her PhD at Melbourne University 6 years ago, Dr Burrows travelled to The University of Cambridge, on a Victoria Fellowship to train with Professors Lisa Saksida and Tim Bussey, who originally developed rodent touchscreen testing. Dr Burrows has since established the touchscreen testing facility at the Florey and has subsequently evaluated several mouse models of cognitive dysfunction. Burrows and her team are developing novel tasks to assess executive dysfunction and attention in disorders/diseases such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Dementia. Dr Burrows has also recently developed a novel analysis method for detecting mouse ultrasonic vocalisations for studying impaired social communication. Her research applies novel technologies to assess behavioural changes in mouse models with a focus on translation to the clinic.
Dr. Christine Guo
Title: Probing the neural and physiological basis of emotion using dynamic naturalistic paradigms.
The study of cognition and perception during realistic, natural conditions has attracted increasing attention in neuroimaging, benefitting from rapid developments in analytical methodology. Using inter-subject correlation (ISC) analysis, a series of innovative neuroimaging studies have recently shown that naturalistic stimuli, such as free viewing of films, evoke highly consistent responses in many cortical regions across subjects, despite the seemingly uncontrolled nature of such paradigms. Our group is exploring the application of naturalistic stimuli to the study of the neural circuit of emotion and its dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disorders. I will discuss our recent findings that distinct functional subdivisions of the cerebellum are robustly engaged in real-life cognitive and affective processes, playing specific roles through a dynamic interaction with higher order regions in the cerebral cortex. I will also introduce the use of thermal imaging, a contact-free technique, to study psychophysics in a natural setting and discuss its potential in clinical research.
Dr. Guo received a B.Sc in Biological Sciences from Peking University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Stanford University, School of Medicine, followed by postdoctoral training at the Memory and Aging Center (UCSF). She is now a Team Head at the Mental Health Program at QIMR Berghofer. She has broad research experience, from molecular biology and genetics to electrophysiology and systems neuroscience. Her work focuses on understanding selective vulnerability at the network level in health and in neurodegenerative diseases, using modern neuroimaging techniques. She is also developing novel methods and techniques to understand the body-brain interaction and its breakdown in neurological and psychiatric disorders.