Laurence Kirmayer, PhD

Time: Monday, August 13, 9:00–10:30 am

Title: Introduction to Social and Cultural Neuroscience

Abstract: Social and cultural neuroscience has provided new insights into the mechanisms and meanings of human cognition and adaptation. This introduction will outline the workshop and consider the conceptual and methodological challenges of building bridges between the social sciences and neurosciences.  Topics will include: the relevance of social science for neuroscience; implications of 4-E cognitive science for social and cultural neuroscience; ecosocial approaches to studying the brain in health and illness; and strategies for integrating ethnographic methods and neuroscience in global mental health.

Biographical Note: Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS, FRSC is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University and Director of the McGill Global Mental Health Program. He is Editor-in-Chief of Transcultural Psychiatry, and Director of the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, where he conducts research on culturally responsive mental health services, the mental health of Indigenous peoples, and the anthropology of psychiatry. He founded and directs the annual Summer Program and Advanced Study Institute in Cultural Psychiatry at McGill. He co-edited the volumes, Understanding Trauma: Integrating Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives (Cambridge University Press), Healing Traditions: The Mental Health of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (University of British Columbia Press), Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care (Springer), DSM-5 Handbook for the Cultural Formulation Interview (APPI), and Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience and Global Mental Health (Cambridge). He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Social Sciences).

Readings (* = required)

Choudhury, S., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2009). Cultural neuroscience and psychopathology: Prospects for cultural psychiatry. Progress in Brain Research178, 263-283.

Kirmayer, L. J. (2012). The future of critical neuroscience. In: S. Choudhury & J. Slaby (Eds.) Critical Neuroscience. A Handbook of the Social and Cultural Contexts of Neuroscience (pp. 367-383) Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Kirmayer, L. J., & Crafa, D. (2014). What kind of science for psychiatry?. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience8, 435.

*Seligman, R., Choudhury, S., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2015). Locating culture in the brain and in the world: from social categories to the ecology of mind. In: Chiao, J. Y., Li, S. C., & Seligman, R. (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Cultural Neuroscience (pp. 3-20). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carol Worthman, PhD

Time: Monday, August 13, 11:00–12:30 pm

Title: Biocultural Anthropology

Abstract: In the face of mounting challenges to human welfare, an ongoing scientific revolution is dissolving entrenched nature-nurture, body-mind divides in western thought, and yielding dramatic advances in our understanding of human experience, behavior, and well-being. This session explores conceptual foundations of biocultural research in adaptationist, developmental, and culture theories, reviews the array of methods used in such research, and discusses exemplars that illustrate key insights and new models that are emerging from it. The emphasis in biocultural anthropology on understanding the sources and sequelae of human diversity prioritizes research in the many populations under-represented in current scientific literatures, and provides concepts, tools, and models for more expansive, inclusive inquiry.

Biographical Note: Carol M. Worthman is a biological and medical anthropologist with training in endocrinology and neuroscience. Her work deploys a biocultural approach in comparative interdisciplinary research on human development and pathways to differential mental and physical health. She has conducted cross-cultural biosocial and biocultural research in thirteen countries, as well as in rural, urban, and semi-urban areas of the United States. Since 2007, she also leads the neuroscience component of the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.

Readings (*** = required; boldface = recommended)

Development and life history

***Ecology of human development (Worthman, 2010)

Resilience in ex-child soldiers (Kohrt et al., 2016)

Gender and paternal behavior (Mascaro, Rentscher, Hackett, Mehl, & Rilling, 2017)

Timescales of human adaptation (Kuzawa & Thayer, 2011)

Male life history in Cebu (Gettler, McDade, Bragg, Feranil, & Kuzawa, 2015)

Early environments and health (Mulligan, 2016)

Early environments and methylation Cebu (McDade et al., 2017)

***Embodiment  (Seligman & Brown, 2010)

Adolescence and cultural embedding (Worthman & Trang, 2018)

A study of color (Gravlee, Non, & Mulligan, 2009)

Symbolic capital and health (Sweet, 2010)

Embodiment and diabetes, Delhi (Weaver, Worthman, DeCaro, & Madhu, 2015)

Biomarkers (Worthman & Costello, 2009)

***Culture and human welfare (Kagawa Singer, Dressler, George, & Panel, 2016)

Cultural consensus (Dressler, Balieiro, de Araujo, Silva, & dos Santos, 2016)

Thinking a lot, Cambodian refugees (Hinton, Barlow, Reis, & de Jong, 2016)

Habits of the heart (Worthman, 2009)


Dressler, W. W., Balieiro, M. C., de Araujo, L. F., Silva, W. A., & dos Santos, J. E. (2016). Culture as a mediator of gene-environment interaction: Cultural consonance, childhood adversity, a 2A serotonin receptor polymorphism, and depression in urban Brazil. Social Science and Medicine, 161, 109-117. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.05.033

Gettler, L. T., McDade, T. W., Bragg, J. M., Feranil, A. B., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2015). Developmental energetics, sibling death, and parental instability as predictors of maturational tempo and life history scheduling in males from Cebu, Philippines. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 158(2), 175-184. doi:10.1002/ajpa.22783

Gravlee, C. C., Non, A. L., & Mulligan, C. J. (2009). Genetic ancestry, social classification, and racial inequalities in blood pressure in Southeastern Puerto Rico. PLoS ONE, 4(9), e6821.

Hinton, D. E., Barlow, D. H., Reis, R., & de Jong, J. (2016). A Transcultural Model of the Centrality of “Thinking a Lot” in Psychopathologies Across the Globe and the Process of Localization: A Cambodian Refugee Example. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 40(4), 570-619.

Kagawa Singer, M., Dressler, W., George, S., & Panel, N. I. H. E. (2016). Culture: The missing link in health research. Social Science and Medicine, 170, 237-246.

Kohrt, B. A., Worthman, C. M., Adhikari, R. P., Luitel, N. P., Arevalo, J. M., Ma, J., . . . Cole, S. W. (2016). Psychological resilience and the gene regulatory impact of posttraumatic stress in Nepali child soldiers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(29), 8156-8161.

Kuzawa, C. W., & Thayer, Z. M. (2011). Timescales of human adaptation: the role of epigenetic processes. Epigenomics, 3(2), 221-234. doi:10.2217/epi.11.11

Mascaro, J. S., Rentscher, K. E., Hackett, P. D., Mehl, M. R., & Rilling, J. K. (2017). Child gender influences paternal behavior, language, and brain function. Behavioral Neuroscience, 131(3), 262-273. doi:10.1037/bne000019910.1037/bne0000199.supp

McDade, T. W., Ryan, C., Jones, M. J., MacIsaac, J. L., Morin, A. M., Meyer, J. M., . . . Kuzawa, C. W. (2017). Social and physical environments early in development predict DNA methylation of inflammatory genes in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(29), 7611-7616. doi:

Mulligan, C. J. (2016). Early Environments, Stress, and the Epigenetics of Human Health. In D. Brenneis & K. B. Strier (Eds.), Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol 45 (Vol. 45, pp. 233-249). Palo Alto: Annual Reviews.

Seligman, R., & Brown, R. A. (2010). Theory and method at the intersection of anthropology and cultural neuroscience. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5(2-3), 130-137. doi:10.1093/scan/nsp032

Sweet, E. (2010). “If your shoes are raggedy you get talked about”: symbolic and material dimensions of adolescent social status and health. Social Science and Medicine, 70(12), 2029-2035.

Weaver, L. J., Worthman, C. M., DeCaro, J. A., & Madhu, S. V. (2015). The signs of stress: embodiments of biosocial stress among type 2 diabetic women in New Delhi, India. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 131, 122-130. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.002

Worthman, C. M. (2009). Habits of the heart: Life history and the developmental neuroendocrinology of emotion. American Journal of Human Biology, 211, 772-781.

Worthman, C. M. (2010). The ecology of human development: evolving models for cultural psychology. Journal for Cross-Cultural Psychology, 41, 546-562.

Worthman, C. M., & Costello, E. J. (2009). Tracking biocultural pathways to health disparities: The use of biomarkers. Annals of Human Biology, 36(3), 281-297.

Worthman, C. M., & Trang, K. (2018). Dynamics of body time, social time and life history at adolescence. Nature, 554(7693), 451-457.

Shinobu Kitayama, PhD

Time: Monday, August 13, 2:00–3:30 pm

Title: Cultural Neuroscience: Linking Context to Genes and the Brain

Abstract: The study of culture in psychology has come of age. Over the last few decades, many researchers have explored cultural pluralism – the hypothesis that there are multiple equilibriums in human cultural adaptation while relying on epistemological positivism – a set of scientific methods employed to evaluate claims made on different cultures. One primary domain of interest has been a macroscopic comparison between (relatively interdependent) East and (relatively independent) West. In my talk, I will discuss three core themes of the field and put forward new questions that have emerged on the horizon. Specifically, the success of the cultural research in psychology was initially anchored in (i) an experimental approach to document cultural variations in mentality. Subsequently, it has been reinforced by both (ii) an effort to identify situational, historical, ecological, and, more recently, evolutionary forces that shape the contemporary cultural variations in mentality and (iii) the adoption of neuroscience methods to assess the “depth” of cultural influences on mentality. Now, the field is poised to address new questions on the biological mechanisms that are recruited to support culture, including neuroplasticity, gene x culture co-evolution, and epigenetic pathways of socio-cultural adaptation. Our recent empirical work addressing a gene x culture interaction that is observed in regionally specific brain volume and cortical thickness will be discussed.

Biographical Note: Shinobu Kitayama, PhD, is Robert B. Zajonc Collegiate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on cultural variations in the self and certain cognitive, emotional, and motivational processes that are linked to it. In recent years, he has contributed to a newly emerging field of cultural neuroscience by investigating the dynamic, recursive interaction between culture and the brain. He is also interested in genetic and epigenetic mechanisms in understanding human culture. He previously taught at several institutions including the University of Oregon, Kyoto University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago. He is currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of a leading journal in social psychology (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology—Attitudes and Social Cognition). He was an elected Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences (1995-1996 and 2007-2008), received a Guggenheim Fellowship (2010-2011), held the Earnest Hilgard Visiting Professorship at Stanford (2011), and has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011).

Readings (* = Required)

 Kitayama, S., & Salvador, C. (2017). Culture embrained: Going beyond the nature-nurture dichotomy. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Kitayama, S., & Uskul, A. K. (2011). Culture, Mind, and the Brain: Current Evidence and Future Directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 62(1), 419–449.

Kitayama, S., Akutsu, S., Uchida, Y., & Cole, S. W. (2016). Work, meaning, and gene regulation: Findings from a Japanese information technology firm. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 72, 175–181.

*Kitayama, S., Park, J., Miyamoto, Y., Date, H., Boylan, J. M., Markus, H. R., et al. (2018). Behavioral Adjustment Moderates the Link Between Neuroticism and Biological Health Risk: A U.S.–Japan Comparison Study. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(6), 809–822.

*Kitayama, S., Yanagisawa, K., Ito, A., Ueda, R., Uchida, Y., & Abe, N. (2017). Reduced orbitofrontal cortical volume is associated with interdependent self-construal. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(30), 7969–7974.

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (2010). Cultures and Selves: A Cycle of Mutual Constitution. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 420–430.

*Talhelm, T., Zhang, X., Oishi, S., Shimin, C., Duan, D., Lan, X., & Kitayama, S. (2014). Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture. Science, 344(6184), 603–608.


Suparna Choudhury, PhD, and Budhachandra Khundrakpam

Time: Monday, August 13, 3:30–5:00 pm

Title: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Abstract: Structural and functional MRI studies during the last two decades have demonstrated a high degree of malleability of the adolescent brain. The field of developmental cognitive neuroscience has developed in response to these findings, with researchers investigating the neural underpinnings of a range of behaviours associated with adolescence ranging from risk-taking to perspective-taking. In recent work, we have emphasized the need for neuroscientists to address the social and cultural contexts of adolescence, and in this paper, we review emerging findings on the implications of socioeconomic status (SES)on the developing brain. Until recently, SES was treated as a covariate in brain research. However, emerging evidence points to structural and functional brain correlates of SES, associated with mental health, cognitive development and educational attainment. However, it is still unclear how SES correlates with brain at different developmental time periods. We will present findings from a recent study that highlight differential impact of SES on brain structure during development. We observed significant positive association of cortical thickness and SES (greater cortical thickness for High- compared to Low-SES group) in several brain regions during early adolescence, but not during childhood and late adolescence. Associated with these structural differences, we also observed greater language abilities in High-SES group during early adolescence but not during childhood and late adolescence. Our results thus point to early adolescence as a sensitive developmental time period for interaction with environment (SES) with possible consequences for cognitive development. We will discuss our findings, highlighting the challenges of integrating concepts from social science with new methods in neuroimaging. We will discuss our findings, highlighting the potential and challenges of integrating concepts from social science with new methods in neuroimaging, particularly network neuroscience approaches which allow investigation of SES moderation on structural and functional connectomes.

Biographical Note: Suparna Choudhury, PhD is Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Culture, Mind & Brain Program at the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill University, where she works on the adolescent brain at the intersection of anthropology and cognitive neuroscience. Trained originally as a neuroscientist, Suparna has worked as a researcher in London, Paris, Berlin and Montreal developing interdisciplinary skills to examine the implications of the new brain sciences for health and society. Her doctoral research in cognitive neuroscience investigated the development of the social brain during adolescence. She subsequently developed the research program of Critical Neuroscience, which brings to bear perspectives of science studies and medical anthropology to examine how neuroscientists construct their objects of inquiry, and how research findings are transformed into popular knowledge and public policy. Ongoing projects include analysis of neuroeducational interventions including mindfulness training for adolescents; use of neuroscience in juvenile law; subjective experiences of young people taking psychotropic medications; mental health and urbanicity; interpretations of data from brain science and epigenetics in the context of maternal mental health; and the politics of open science.


Maria Gendron, PhD (presenter); Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD (co-author)

Time: Tuesday, August 14, 9:00–10:30 am

Title: Affective Neuroscience

Abstract: Affective phenomena have traditionally been considered in a separate sphere from cognitive phenomena such as memory, perception, and decision making. This legacy of partitioning the brain into “emotional” circuits that are separate from “cognitive” regions is being actively dismantled with emerging neuroscience research on the network structure and function of the brain. This research has led to several key insights. First, affective phenomena are pervasive due to the core biological task of predictively regulating the body (allostasis) and representing the sensory consequences of that bodily regulation (interoception). Emerging research suggests that the experience of affective qualities (pleasure, displeasure) is a low-dimensional representation of these processes in consciousness. Second, emotional experiences and perceptions also involve a set of regions that implement conceptual processing, which serve to bring online past experience to guide actions and give sensations meaning. This finding suggests that affective neuroscience must be fused with cognitive neuroscience to make progress on understanding the nature of affect and emotion. A third, and final insight, is that diversity in emotional phenomena, across individuals and societies, may be unpacked by considering how the conceptual system guides the implementation of allostasis in a manner that is tuned to the demands and opportunities of an individual’s ecological, social and developmental niche. As a consequence, the entry point for measurement of affective and emotional phenomena in neuroscience research will be enhanced by considering conceptual frameworks for affect and emotion within a given (cultural) context.

Biographical Notes:  

Maria Gendron, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Dr. Gendron is a Social Psychologist by training. She completed her doctorate at Boston College in 2013 with Lisa Feldman Barrett, where she conducted research on emotion perception in laboratory studies, patients with neurodegenerative disorders, and in small-scale societies. Her research focused on the role of conceptual knowledge, anchored in language, in the perceptual representation of and inferences about emotional cues (facial movements, vocalizations). During her post-doctoral work, supported by a NIMH fellowship, Dr. Gendron expanded her training to affective neuroscience and its integration with cultural psychology. Ongoing work aims to integrate affective neuroscience approaches with the study of individual and cultural diversity in emotional phenomena, including through fieldwork in a small-scale societal contexts and in laboratory research in industrialized, globalized societies.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is a University Distinguished Professor of psychology at Northeastern University, with appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in psychiatry and radiology. Dr. Barrett’s research focuses on the nature of emotion from the perspectives of both psychology and neuroscience, and takes inspiration from anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. Her lab takes an interdisciplinary approach, and incorporates methods from social, clinical, and personality psychology, psychophysiology, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, and visual cognition. Current projects focus on understanding the psychological construction of emotion (i.e., how basic affective and conceptual ingredients provide the recipes for emotional experiences), age- and disease-related changes in affective circuitry within the human brain, how language and context influence emotion perception, how affect influences vision, and sex differences in emotion. Dr. Barrett received a National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for her research on emotion in the brain, and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada and has been named president-elect for the Association of Psychological Science.

Readings (* = required)

Adolphs, R. (2017). How should neuroscience study emotions? By distinguishing emotion states, concepts, and experiences. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience12(1), 24-31.

Atzil, S., Gao, W., Fradkin, I., & Barrett, L. F. (in press). Growing a social brain. Nature Human Behavior. [draft forthcoming, upon availability]

* Barrett, L. F. (2017). The theory of constructed emotion: an active inference account of interoception and categorization. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience12(11), 1833.

*Barrett, L. F. & Satpute, A. B. (2017). Historical pitfalls and new directions in the neuroscience of emotion. Neuroscience Letters. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.07.045

Brooks, J.A., Shablack, H., Gendron, M., Satpute, A.B., Parrish, M.J., & Lindquist, K.A. (2017). The role of language in the experience and perception of emotion: A neuroimaging meta-analysis. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 12, 169-183.Critchley, H. D., & Garfinkel, S. N. (2017). Interoception and emotion. Current opinion in psychology, 17, 7-14.

Kleckner, I. R., Zhang, J., Touroutoglou, A., Chanes, L., Xia, Chengie, Simmons, W. K., Quigley, K.S., Dickerson, B. C., & Barrett, L. F. (2017). Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans. Nature Human Behavior, 1,0069.

Ledoux, J. E., & Brown, R. (2017). A higher-order theory of emotional consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America114(10), E2016-E2025.

Somerville, L. H. (2016). Emotional development in adolescence. In Handbook of Emotion, 4th Edition (Barrett, Lewis, & Haviland-Jones, Eds.).

Jennifer Bartz, PhD

Time: Tuesday, August 14, 11:00–12:30 pm

Ian Gold, PhD

Time: Tuesday, August 14, 2:00–3:30 pm

Biographical Note: Ian Gold, PhD is Associate Professor of Philosophy & Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. He completed a doctorate in Philosophy at Princeton University and did postdoctoral training at the Australian National University in Canberra. From 2000 to 2006, he was on the faculty of the School of Philosophy & Bioethics at Monash University in Melbourne and came to McGill in 2006. His research focuses on the study of delusions, social neuroscience, and on reductionism in psychiatry and neuroscience. He is the author of research articles in journals including: Behavioral and Brain SciencesMind and Language; Consciousness and CognitionCanadian Journal of Psychiatry; World PsychiatryTranscultural PsychiatryPhilosophyPsychiatry, & Psychology; and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry. A book on the theory of delusions, Suspicious Minds (Free Press),  co-written with his brother Joel Gold, appeared in the summer of 2014.


Samuel Veissière, PhD

Time: Tuesday, August 14, 3:30–5:00 pm

Title: Cultural Affordances

Abstract: The processes underwriting the acquisition of culture remain unclear. How are habits and norms learned and maintained with precision and reliability across large-scale sociocultural ensembles? Is there a unifying account of the mechanisms involved in the acquisition of culture? Notions such as ‘shared expectations’, the ‘selective patterning of attention and behaviour’ and ‘situated learning’ are the main candidates to underpin a unifying account of cognition and the acquisition of culture; however, their interactions require greater specification and clarification. In this talk, I report on our current work that aims to integrate these candidates using the variational (free energy) approach to human cognition and culture in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that human agents may learn shared expectations through the selective patterning of attention by the developmental construction of sociocultural niches that afford epistemic resources (i.e., cultural affordances). We call this process “Thinking through Other Minds” (TTOM) – in effect, the process of inferring other’s expectations via ecologically specified, sensorimotor interactions. The integrative model has implications that may advance theories of enculturation, adaptation, and psychopathology.

Biographical Note: An anthropologist and cognitive scientist by training, Samuel Veissière is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Associate member in the Department of Anthropology, and co-director of the Culture, Mind, and Brain program at McGill University. He specializes in social and cultural dimensions of cognition, attention, and mental health from evolutionary and ecological (niche construction) perspectives. His current research spans various topics from cultural factors in hypnosis, suggestion, and placebo therapeutics, hyper-sociality in smartphone addiction, variational (free-energy) approaches to the evolution of cognition and culture, and agent-based modeling of joint-intentionality and complex social processes.

Readings: (* = required)

* Ramstead, M. J., Veissière, S. P., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2016). Cultural affordances: scaffolding local worlds through shared intentionality and regimes of attention. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 1090.

* Veissiere, S., Constant, A., Ramstead, M,, Frsiton, K., Kirmayer, L. (in review) Thinking Through Other Minds: A Variational Approach to Cognition and Culture. Behavioural and Brain Sciences.

*  Kirmayer, L. J. (2018). Ontologies of life: From thermodynamics to teleonomics. Physics of life reviews, 24, 29-31*.

*  Veissière, S. (2018). Cultural Markov blankets? Mind the other minds gap!. Physics of life reviews, 24, 47-49.

Constant, A., Ramstead, M. J., Veissiere, S. P., Campbell, J. O., & Friston, K. J. (2018). A variational approach to niche construction. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 15(141), 20170685.

Veissière, S. & Stendel, M. (2018). Hypernatural Monitoring: a Social Rehearsal Account of Smartphone Addiction. Front. Psychol. (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology) doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00141

Kirmayer, L.J., Gomez-Carrillo, A., Veissière, S. (2017) Culture and depression in global mental health: An ecosocial approach to the phenomenology of psychiatric disorders, Social Science & Medicine doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.04.034.

Veissière, S. (2016) ‘Varieties of Tulpa Experiences: The Hypnotic Nature of Human Sociality, Personhood, and Interphenomenality’. In. Amir Raz and Michael Lifshitz (eds) Hypnosis and meditation: Towards an integrative science of conscious planes. Oxford University Press.


Marie-France Marin, PhD

Time: Wednesday, August 16, 9:00–10:30 am

Title: Stress and the Brain: The Role of Individual Differences

Abstract: This presentation aims to provide an overview of stress and its impact on human brain and cognitive functions. We will first review the determinants of stress, its definition, as well as the distinction between acute and chronic stress. The brain regions that are rich in stress hormone receptors will be explored and from there, the impact of stress of cognitive functions will be covered. We will then turn our attention on the various factors that could influence stress perception and stress reactivity. Individual factors and societal factors that should be taken into account when studying the impact of stress on the brain will be examined.

Biographical Note: Dr. Marin obtained her doctoral degree in neurological sciences from the Université de Montréal in 2013 under the supervision of Dr. Sonia Lupien. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston, where she gained considerable experience on neuroimaging while working with individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders.

She is now a researcher at the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal and she also holds an assistant research-professor position in the Department of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal. Dr. Marin studies the impact of stress on traumatic memories and she is also interested in understanding how fears could be transmitted from parents to children. She has won multiple excellence scholarships and knowledge transfer awards. She is a scientific member of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress.

Readings (* = required)

*Kudielka BM, Hellhammer DH, Wüst S (2009). Why do we respond so differently? Reviewing determinants of human salivary cortisol responses to challenge. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(1), 2‑18.

Kudielka BM, Kirschbaum C (2005). Sex differences in HPA axis responses to stress: a review. Biological Psychology, 69(1), 113‑132.

*Lupien SJ, King S, Meaney MJ, Mcewen BS (2001). Can poverty get under your skin? Basal cortisol levels and cognitive function in children from low and high socioeconomic status. Development and Psychopathology, 13(3), 653‑676.

Lupien SJ, Fiocco A, Wan N, Maheu F, Lord C, Schramek T, Tu MT (2005). Stress hormones and human memory function across the lifespan. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 30(3), 225‑242.

Marin MF, Lord C, Andrews J, Juster RP, Sindi S, Arsenault-Lapierre G, Fiocco AJ, Lupien SJ (2011). Chronic stress, cognitive functioning and mental health. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 96(4), 583‑595.

Raymond C, Marin MF, Majeur D, Lupien SJ (2018). Early child adversity and psychopathology in adulthood: HPA axis and cognitive dysregulations as potential mechanisms. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 85,152-160.

Michael Meaney, PhD

Time: Wednesday, August 15, 11:00–12:30 pm

Title: Epigenetics & Developmental Psychopathology

Abstract: Epigenetics refers to a collection of molecular modifications to the chromatin environment that regulate the probability of gene expression. Epigenetic signals, especially the more stable modifications, such as DNA methylation, are implicated in cell differentiation. However, a portion of the epigenome remains “plastic” and is sensitive to environmental regulation, thus producing stable individual differences in cell function and health outcomes. Epigenetic variation at such sites strongly reflects G x E interactions and may thus serve as an interesting class of biomarkers reflecting both experience and genetic predispositions. This lecture will explore the implications for social psychiatry and mental health. Emphasis will be placed on the limitations of the current state of knowledge, especially with respect to the issue of inter-generational transmission.

Biographical Note: Meaney was trained in Child Clinical Psychology (Concordia University) as well as Molecular Neuroscience (The Rockefeller University). His research interest is that of the stable effects of early experience on gene expression and brain development and function, focusing on the influence of variations in maternal care. Over the past 10 years he has been actively developing translational research models in the context of birth cohort studies. Together these studies led to the discovery of novel epigenetic mechanisms for the influence of early experience and their implications for understanding the origins of resilience and susceptibility in children. This program now emphasizes informatic approaches with genomic and epigenomic data to examine the origins of individual differences in the risk for psychopathology.

Readings (* = required)

*Teh AL, Pan H, Chen L, Ong ML, Dogra S, Wong J, Macisaac JL, Mah SM, McEwen LM, Saw SM, Godfrey KM, Chong YS, Kwek K, Kwoh CK, Soh SE, Chong M, Barton S, Karnani N, Cheong CY, Buschdorf JP, Stunkel W, Kobor MS, Meaney MJ, Gluckman PD, Holbrook JD. (2014). The effect of genotype and in utero environment on inter-individual variation in neonate DNA methylomes. Genome Research 24:1064-1074.

*Meaney MJ, Ferguson-Smith A. (2010) Epigenomic regulation of the neural transcriptome: The meaning of the marks. Nature Neuroscience 13:1313-1318.


*Zhang TY, Meaney MJ. (2010) Epigenetics and the environmental regulation of the genome and its function. Annual Reviews of Psychology 61:439-466.


O’Donnell KJ, Chen L, MacIsaac JL, McEwen LM, Nguyen T, Beckmann K, Zhu Y, Chen LM, Brooks-Gunn J, Goldman D, Grigorenko EL, Leckman JF, Diorio J, Karnani N, Olds DL, Holbrook JD, Kobor MS, Meaney MJ (2018) DNA methylome variation in a perinatal nurse-visitation program that reduces child maltreatment: a 27-year follow-up. Transl Psychiatry 8:e15.

O’Donnell KJ, Meaney MJ (2017) Fetal origins of mental health: The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Hypothesis. American Journal of Psychiatry 174:319-328.

Qiu A, Shen M, Buss C, Kwek K, Saw S-M, Chong Y-S, Gluckman PD, Wadhwa PD, Entringer S, Stner M, Gilmore JH, Karani N, Heim CM, O’Donnell KJ, Holbrook JD, Fortier MV, Meaney MJ and the GUSTO study Group (2017) Effects of antenatal maternal depressive symptoms and socio-economic status on neonatal brain development are modulated by genetic risk. Cerebral Cortex 27:3080-3092.

Yehuda R, Daskalakis NP, Lehrner A, Desarnaud F, Bader HN, Makotkine J, Flory JD, Bierer LM, Meaney MJ. (2014) Influences of maternal and paternal PTSD on epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene in Holocaust survivor offspring. American Journal of Psychiatry 171:872-880.

Véronique Bohbot, PhD

Time: Wednesday, August 15, 2:00–3:30 pm

Title: Cultural Differences in Hippocampus-Dependent Spatial Memory: Impact on GDP and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Abstract: A larger hippocampus has been associated with healthy cognition in normal aging and with a reduced risk of numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Schizophrenia, Post-Traumatic Stress disorder and Depression. The hippocampus is implicated in spatial memory strategies used when finding one’s way in the environment, i.e. it is allocentric and involves remembering the relationship between landmarks. On the other hand, another strategy dependent on the caudate nucleus can also be used, i.e. the response strategy, which relies on making a series of stimulus-response associations (e.g. right and left turns from given positions). Measures of spontaneous navigation strategies from ages 8 to 80 yrs have shown a decrease in spatial memory strategies across the life span, along with a reduction in activity and grey matter in the hippocampus in favor of caudate nucleus dependent response strategies.

In this talk, I will be discussing variables that promote caudate nucleus-dependent strategies, such as reward seeking behaviors which include smoking and playing action video games, stress, gender, age and cultural differences. Furthermore, in a recent article, we show that spatial memory, measured in 2.7 million players of a free mobile app, correlates with the gross domestic product of countries around the world. Our findings suggest that spatial memory, which involves learning the relationship between environmental landmarks, is critical to hippocampal function which in turn, may be fundamental to contextualizing memory for events and have an impact on the incidence of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Readings (* =  required)

*Bohbot and West (2015) ­­No, there is no causal link between action video games and Alzheimer’s disease. But here is what you need to know…. Huffington Post.

*Bohbot VD et al. (2007) Gray matter differences correlate with spontaneous strategies in a human virtual navigation task. J. Neurosci. 27, 10 078 -10 083. (doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1763-07.2007)

*West GL, Konishi K, Diarra M, Benady-Chorney J, Drisdelle BL, Dahmani L, Sodums DJ, Lepore F, Jolicoeur P, Bohbot VD (2017) Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus. Mol Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 8. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.155. [Epub ahead of print]

*Coutrot, A., Silva, R., Manley, E., de Cothi, W., Sami, S., Bohbot, V. D., Wiener, J. M., Holscher, C., Dalton, R.C., Hornberger, M.,* , Spiers, H. J.,* (In Press) Global determinants of navigation ability. Current Biology. BioRxiv

Supplemental Material

Amico F et al. (2011) Structural MRI correlates for vulnerability and resilience to major depressive disorder. J. Psychiatry Neurosci. 36, 15 – 22. (doi:10. 1503/jpn.090186).

Apostolova LG, Dutton RA, Dinov ID, Hayashi KM, Toga AW, Cummings JL, Thompson PM. (2006) Conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer disease predicted by hippocampal atrophy maps. Arch. Neurol. 63, 693 – 699. (doi:10. 1001/archneur.63.5.693).

Bohbot, V. D., Del Balso, D., Conrad, K., Konishi, K., & Leyton, M. (2013). Caudate nucleus-dependent navigational strategies are associated with increased use of addictive drugs. Hippocampus, 23(11), 973-984. doi:10.1002/hipo.22187

Erten-Lyons D, Woltjer RL, Dodge H, Nixon R, Vorobik R, Calvert JF, Leahy M, Montine T, Kaye J. (2009) Factors associated with resistance to dementia despite high Alzheimer disease pathology. Neurology. 2009 Jan 27;72(4):354-60. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000341273.18141.64.

Gilbertson MW, Shenton ME, Ciszewski A, Kasai K, Lasko NB, Orr SP, Pitman RK. (2002) Smaller hippocampal volume predicts pathologic vulnerability to psychological trauma. Nat. Neurosci. 5, 1242 – 1247. (doi:10.1038/nn958).

Gur RE, Turetsky BI, Cowell PE, Finkelman C, Maany V, Grossman RI, Arnold SE, Bilker WB, Gur RC (2000) Temporolimbic volume reductions in schizophrenia. Arch Gen Psychiatry. Aug;57(8):769-75.

Konishi, K., Joober, R., Poirier, J., MacDonald, K., Chakravarty, M., Patel, R., . . . Bohbot, V. D. (2018). Healthy versus Entorhinal Cortical Atrophy Identification in Asymptomatic APOE4 Carriers at Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. J Alzheimers Dis, 61(4), 1493-1507. doi:10.3233/JAD-170540

Persson, K., Bohbot, V. D., Bogdanovic, N., Selbaek, G., Braekhus, A., & Engedal, K. (2018). Finding of increased caudate nucleus in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neurol Scand, 137(2), 224-232. doi:10.1111/ane.12800

Laurette Dubé, PhD (with Patricia Silveira and Shawn Brown)

Time: Wednesday, August 14, 3:30–5:00 pm

Title: Decision Neuroscience

Abstract: Since pioneer work by Tversky and Kahneman in the late 1970s, behavioral economics, and now decision neuroscience, have provided a strong foundation for the scientific study of human decision making and behavior that accounts for the whole diversity of rational and less-rational motives and processes impacting choice. While behavioral economics is evidencing a rich diversity of cognitive and affective heuristics and biases in decision under risk and uncertainty that violates rationality in both personal and professional judgments, decision neuroscience is combining cognitive neuroscience (in humans) with related fields of behavioral and systems neuroscience (in animal models) to define the neurobiological basis of decision making in both deterministic and probabilistic contexts. Important insights have already been provided on differentiated functions of the human frontal lobes, the crucial role of dopamine in reward learning, and the interactions between goal-directed behavior, habitual responses, impulsive drives, and, more generally, the complex and dynamic biological, social, and  cultural processes that altogether define how the brain makes decision. This session will provide a brief overview of key decision neuroscience concepts and models of choice while pushing its boundaries through a Brain-to-Society (BtS) approach to human behavior. The BtS model views gene, brain, economy and society as part of a same  modular ontological system impacting behavior in real time and in real world contexts.  The Brain-to-Society decision and behavioral research approach aims to harness and bridge the exponenial growth in our understanding of the workings of the human genome, brain, economy and society through artificial intelligence and other data and complexity sciences to inform adaptive individual and collective choice and behavior that go beyond what has been possible thus far in achieving their full possibilities and confronting complex challenges still confronting a 21st-century world on the brink of its fourth industrial revolution that blurs the boundary between the biological, physical and digital spheres.  Part of the biological sciences are effectively becoming social sciences as genomic, proteomics, metabolomics, and brain imaging produces a large number of individual-level variables and researchers in these fields are on the hunt for measures of behavioral phenotypes. This happens while social sciences research and designers of real-world products, services, and programs supporting individuals in their decision making and behaviors are exploring neural and physiological signatures of differentiated facets of real-time experience for better impact and more precise targeting. Moreover, both science and action around the world now occur in extremely diverse contexts characterized by unprecedented speed and connectivity, accelerating the emergence of individual and collective patterns that may have different adaptive quality and would benefit from the more solid integrative scientific inquiry. In collaboration with research collaborators Patricia Silveira and Shawn Brown, I will be illustrating this approach taking food preference and behavior as proof of concept.

Biographical Note: Professor, Marketing; James McGill Chair of Consumer and Lifestyle Psychology and Marketing; Chair and Scientific Director, McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics

Originally trained as a nutritionist, with graduate degrees in finance (MBA), marketing (MPS), and behavioral decision making/consumer psychology (PhD), Laurette Dubé is Full Professor and holds the James McGill Chair of consumer and lifestyle psychology and marketing at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University. Dr. Dubé’s lifetime research interest bears on the study of affects, behavioral economics, and neurobehavioral processes underlying consumption, lifestyle, and health behavior. Her translational research examines how such knowledge can inspire more effective behavioral change and ecosystem transformation. Dr. Dubé is also the founding chair and scientific director of the McGill Center for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE), a unique initiative to push the boundaries of disciplinary and complexity sciences to help individuals, communities, businesses, social enterprises, and governments to tackle, better than has been possible thus far, the most pressing societal and economic problems facing the world that lies at the nexus between agriculture, health and wealth production, consumption and distribution.

Readings (* = required)

*Fellows, L. Current concepts in decision-making research from bench to bedside.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18 (6), 937-941

*Dubé, L., Bechara, A., ..& Huettel, S. (2008). Towards a brain-to-society systems model of individual choice. Marketing letters, 19(3-4), 323-336.

Silveira, P. P., Gaudreau, H., Atkinson, L., Fleming, A. S., Sokolowski, M. B., Steiner, M., … & Dubé, L. (2016). Genetic differential susceptibility to socioeconomic status and childhood obesogenic behavior: why targeted prevention may be the best societal investment. JAMA pediatrics, 170(4), 359-364.

Hammond, R. A., Ornstein, J. T., Fellows, L. K., Dubé, L., Levitan, R., & Dagher, A. (2012). A model of food reward learning with dynamic reward exposure. Frontiers in computational neuroscience, 6.

Cisek, P., & Pastor-Bernier, A. (2014). On the challenges and mechanisms of embodied decisions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369(1655), 20130479.

Pezzulo, G., Barsalou, L. W., Cangelosi, A., Fischer, M. H., McRae, K., & Spivey, M. (2013). Computational grounded cognition: a new alliance between grounded cognition and computational modeling. Frontiers in psychology, 3, 612.


Amir Raz, PhD

Time: Thursday, August 17, 9:00–10:30 am

Title: Much Ado About Something: The Fascinating Story of Hypnosis and Placebo Science

Abstract: What’s the relationship between hypnosis and placebo?  After all, both seem to draw on top-down control fueled by expectation and suggestion.  Why do red placebos stimulate whereas blue placebos calm?  Why do more placebos work better than few?  And why do more expensive placebos work better than cheaper ones?  These are some of the key questions that often come to mind when we consider the slippery and counterintuitive field of symbolic thinking.  Research with the living human brain unravels some of the mysteries so key to the field of ‘hypnobo’ – hypnosis and placebo.

Biographical Note: Professor Amir Raz, Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, Canada, is a world leader in unlocking the brain substrates of attention and consciousness. Dr. Raz is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology & Neurosurgery, and Psychology; Senior Investigator in the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital; and a member of the Montreal Neurological Institute. He heads both the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill University and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Institute for Community and Family Psychiatry. Former member of the McGill Board of Governors and Editor-in-Chief of a specialty peer-reviewed journal, Professor Raz combines cutting-edge science and trailblazing research with community outreach, science teaching, and interdisciplinary education in the health and psychological sciences. With peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Nature, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, The Lancet, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Raz has received multiple accolades, ranging from a Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award, to Fellow of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and Honorary Fellow of the Golden Key Society. His research interests span the neural and psychological substrates of attention, suggestion, placebos, and self-regulation. A former magician and musician, he also conducts research into the cognitive neuroscience of deception, ownership, altered consciousness, and atypical cognition. Using imaging of the living human brain, genetics, and other techniques, his research brings together basic and clinical science.

Readings (* = required)

*Implications of Placebo and Nocebo Effects for Clinical Practice: Expert Consensus (2018)

Thibault, R. T., Veissière S., Olson, J. A., Raz A. Treating ADHD with Suggestion: Neurofeedback and Placebo Therapeutics. Journal of Attention Disorders (in press).

*Thibault, R. T., & Raz, A. (2017). The Psychology of Neurofeedback: Clinical Intervention even if Applied Placebo. American Psychologist72(7), 679–688.

Thibault, R. T., Lifshitz, M., & Raz, A. (2018). The climate of neurofeedback: Scientific rigour and the perils of ideology. Brain141(2), e11.

Terhune DB, Cleeremans A, Raz A, Lynn SJ. (2017). Hypnosis and Top-Down Regulation of Consciousness. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Raz, A. (2007). Hypnobo: Perspectives on Hypnosis and Placebo. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 50(1), 29-36.

Hakwan Lau, PhD

Time: Thursday, August 17, 11:00–12:30 pm

Title: The Science and Pseudoscience of Consciousness

Abstract: The topic of how consciousness (i.e. subjective experiences) arises from brain processes has been subject to controversial debates for centuries. Besides being a tremendous intellectual challenge in its own right, it also serves to highlight how scientific legimitacy is gained and lost in a field that essentially requires a multidisciplinary approach. I review different theories, and highlight some clinical applications that can hopefully keep the field grounded.

Biographical Note: Hakwan Lau was born and raised in Hong Kong, where he studied philosophy. After finishing his doctorate at Oxford in cognitive neuroscience, he worked at University College London and Columbia University, before moving to UCLA where he is currently a tenured full professor. For more details about his research see his lab webpage at

Readings: (** = required  / * = important)

Odegaard B, Chang MY, Lau H, Cheung SH (in press) Inflation versus filling-in: why we feel we see more than we actually do in peripheral vision Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B

**Taschereau-Dumouchel V, Cortese A, Chiba T, Knotts JD, Kawato M, Lau H (2018) Towards an Unconscious Neural-Reinforcement Intervention for Common Fears PNAS

Dehaene S, Lau H, Kouider S (2017) What is consciousness, and could machines have it? Science

Peters MA, Lau H (2015) Human observers have optimal introspective access to perceptual processes even for visually masked stimuli. Elife. 4. doi: 10.7554/eLife.09651.

**Lau H, Rosenthal D. (2011) Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(8):365-73

Lau H (2010) Theoretical motivations for investigating the neural correlates of consciousness Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) Cognitive Science DOI: 10.1002/wcs.93

Taschereau-Dumouchel V, Grimaldi P, Lau H (2017) Can unconscious brain processes indicate sentience? Animal Sentience 13(15)

Lau H (2017) 20 years of ASSC: are we ready for its coming of age? Neuroscience of Consciousness

Giles N, Lau H, Odegaard O (2016) What Type of Awareness Does Binocular Rivalry Assess? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20(10):719-20

*Bayne T (2018) On the axiomatic foundations of the integrated information theory of consciousness Neuroscience of Consciousness


Michael Russell, PhD

Time: Thursday, August 17, 2:00–3:30 pm

Title: Ambulatory Assessment and its Applications in Adolescent and Young-Adult Substance Use Research

Abstract: Ambulatory assessment – which includes experience sampling methodology (ESM), ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and wearable biosensors – offers unique potential to study affective, interpersonal, and contextual experiences in situ. This session offers a conceptual overview of ambulatory assessment techniques, including a discussion of their methodological advantages, disadvantages, and design considerations. Applications of ambulatory assessment to research on problem behavior and substance use in adolescent and young adult samples will also be presented, with emphasis on both conceptual and statistical aspects.

Biographical Note. Dr. Russell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health an Investigator in The Methodology Center at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Russell’s research is focused on understanding the connections between stress, affect, and health behaviors in day-to-day life using advanced statistical modeling (multilevel and time-varying effect modeling) and ambulatory assessment methods (daily diaries, ecological momentary assessments (EMA), and wearable biosensors). He is currently leading a data collection effort that combines EMA and wearable biosensors for alcohol intoxication to understand the causes and consequences of young-adult heavy drinking episodes in daily life. Dr. Russell has a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring other health researchers in advanced analytic methods, as evidenced by numerous invited talks and workshops focused on advanced MLM, TVEM, and the analysis of intensive longitudinal data. His work has been published in a variety of top journals, including Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Development and Psychopathology, Journal of Adolescent Health, Prevention Science, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

Readings (* = required).
Barnett, N. P. (2015). Alcohol sensors and their potential for improving clinical care. Addiction, 110(1), 1-3.

Russell, M. A., Almeida, D. M., & Maggs, J. L. (2017). Stressor-related drinking and future alcohol problems among university students. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 31, 676-687.

Russell, M. A., Wang, L., & Odgers, C. L. (2016). Witnessing substance use and same-day antisocial behavior among at-risk adolescents: Gene-environment interaction in a 30-day ecological momentary assessment study. Development and Psychopathology, 28, 1441-1456.

*Shiffman, S. (2014). Conceptualizing analyses of ecological momentary assessment data. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16(Suppl 2), S76-S87.

*Shiffman, S., Stone, A. A., & Hufford, M. R. (2008). Ecological momentary assessment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 4, 1-32.

*Trull, T. J., & Ebner-Priemer, U. (2013). Ambulatory Assessment. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 151-176.

Kathy Trang, Doctoral Candidate

Time: Thursday, August 17, 3:30–5:00 pm

Title: Mapping Place, Time, and People: Mobile Apps. Biosensors, and GIS in Global Health

Abstract: Biosensors, ecological momentary assessments, and passive monitoring generate multi-dimensional, person-centered data that can situate the magnitude and duration of bodily and emotional reactivity to social contexts (EMA), location (GPS), and networks of events that precede and follow them. Thereby, a spike in heart rate can be tied to what is known about the person’s past (e.g., history of stress exposure), present (e.g., the utterances, the imminent stakes), and future (e.g., symptoms triggered). Time series analysis, latent growth curve models, and an increasing number of novel approaches enable modeling of intra- and inter-individual variability with increasing granularity and precision. The hardware and software at hand places onus and opportunity for researchers to translate what is known within the laboratory or clinic into the flow of everyday life to capture the dynamic evolution of risk and resilience through diverse disease states, interventions, and cultural and social contexts; while presenting ever more pronounced dilemmas for data security, privacy, and use. This session engages this type of work by reviewing anthropological and public health theories on space/place and its impact on health and wellbeing, and examining how such theories may inform the design and selection of technologies currently available to track patient-centered outcomes in situ. Examples from this session draw from the presenter’s work in Vietnam examining HIV and PTSD comorbidity among a high-risk population.

Biographical Note: Kathy Trang is a biocultural anthropology PhD student at Emory University, NIH Fogarty Global Health Fellow, and PHRMA Foundation Health Outcomes Fellow. Her research examines the mechanisms by which HIV interacts with PTSD symptomatology and neurobiology among Vietnamese young men who have sex with men, using locally adapted measures of mental health and robust biological measures of stress reactivity both within and outside of the clinic. In illustrating these biosocial dynamics of trauma, her work aims to identify and thereby intervene in the where-when-whom of structural and psychosocial vulnerability.

Readings (* = required)

*Epstein, D. H., Tyburski, M., Craig, I. M., Phillips, K. A., Jobes, M. L., Vahabzadeh, M.,  et al. (2014). Real-time tracking of neighborhood surroundings and mood in urban drug misusers: Application of a new method to study behavior in its geographical context. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 134, 22–29.

*Low, S. M. (n.d.). Towards an anthropological theory of space and place. Semiotica,

2009(175), 21–37.

Matthews, S. A., & Yang, T. C. (2013). Spatial Polygamy and Contextual Exposures (SPACEs): Promoting Activity Space Approaches in Research on Place And Health. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(8), 1057–1081.

Odgers, C. L., Caspi, A., Bates, C. J., Sampson, R. J., & Moffitt, T. E. (2012). Systematic social observation of children’s neighborhoods using Google Street View: a reliable and cost-effective method. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(10), 1009–1017.

Raanan, M. G., & Shoval, N. (2014). Mental maps compared to actual spatial behavior using GPS data: A new method for investigating segregation in cities. Cities, 36(C), 28–40.

Rhodes, T., Singer, M., Bourgois, P., Friedman, S. R., & Strathdee, S. A. (2005). The social structural production of HIV risk among injecting drug users. Social Science & Medicine, 61(5), 1026–1044.

Sharmin, M., Raij, A., Epstien, D., Nahum-Shani, I., Beck, J. G., Vhaduri, S., et al.

(2015). Visualization of Time-Series Sensor Data to Inform the Design of Just-In-

Time Adaptive Stress Interventions. Proceedings of the … ACM International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing . UbiComp (Conference), 2015, 505–516.


Jeffrey Snodgrass, PhD

Time: Friday, August 17, 9:00–10:30 am

Title: Field Methods

Abstract: This session will present an overview of methods suitable for conducting field projects attentive to local social and cultural processes. Focus will be on the development of culturally-sensitive positive and negative subjective well-being scales, via specialized “cultural domain analysis” techniques drawn from cognitive anthropology, including free-lists, pile-sorts, and cultural consensus/consonance analysis. The session will examine how social and neuroscientific questions can be addressed by integrating such scales into projects alongside other methods, including ethnography/participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, field surveys, social network analysis, and biomarkers. Examples will be drawn from the session leader’s own research with the indigenous Sahariya “conservation refugees” of central India, and also with gamers playing in online virtual worlds. In those two contexts, emphasis will be on illuminating relationships between culture, stress, and the HPA axis, and especially on the role that culturally learned frames of meaning—sometimes called “cultural models,” which can be captured in well-constructed scale measures—play in regulating linked mental and physical well-being. In discussing those practical examples, issues related to both data collection and analysis will be raised, as well as the importance of careful study design, exploratory and confirmatory phases of research, mixing qualitative and quantitative methods, and working collaboratively with others.

Biographical Note: Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, PhD, Professor of Anthropology, Colorado State University, has conducted long-term ethnographic research in India on topics typically related to religion. He is currently investigating avatar therapeutics in ritual and play contexts from an integrative bio-psycho-cultural perspective, with ongoing projects in the U.S., France, India, and China. This research critically engages the movement for global mental health, empirically investigating the value of folk therapeutic alternatives and complements to current mainstream psychiatric approaches. He directs CSU’s Ethnographic Research and Teaching Laboratory (ERTL).

Readings (* = required)

*Snodgrass, J.G., Lacy, M.G. & Upadhyay, C. (2017) Developing Culturally Sensitive Affect Scales for Global Mental Health Research and Practice: Emotional Balance, Not Named Syndromes, in Indian Adivasi Subjective Well-Being. Social Science & Medicine 187: 174–183.

*Snodgrass, J.G., et al. (2017). Online Gaming Involvement and Its Positive and Negative Consequences: A Cognitive Anthropological ‘Cultural Consensus’ Approach to Psychiatric Measurement and Assessment.” Computers in Human Behavior 66 (2017): 291–302. [Supplementary material discusses the interview analysis informing the scales:]

Snodgrass, J.G., et al. (in prep). Addictive and Problematic Internet Gaming in North America, Europe, and China: Distinguishing Core from Peripheral Psychiatric Symptoms. Working manuscript.

Snodgrass, J.G., et al. (in prep).The Cross-Cultural Validity of Internet Gaming Disorder: A Comparative Study of North America, Europe, and China.

Snodgrass, J.G. (2014) Ethnography of Online Cultures. Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology, 465–496.

Snodgrass, J.G. David Most, and Chakrapani Upadhyay. “Religious Ritual Is Good Medicine for Indigenous Indian Conservation Refugees:  Implications for Global Mental Health.” Current Anthropology 58, no. 2 (2017): 257–84.

Snodgrass, Jeffrey G., H. J. François Dengah II, Michael G. Lacy, Robert J. Else, Evan R. Polzer, Jesusa M. G. Arevalo, and Steven W. Cole. “Social Genomics of Healthy and Disordered Internet Gaming.” American Journal of Human Biology 0, no. 0 (n.d.): e23146.

Zahran, Sammy, Jeffrey G Snodgrass, David G Maranon, Chakrapani Upadhyay, Douglas A Granger, and Susan M Bailey. “Stress and Telomere Shortening among Central Indian Conservation Refugees.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 9 (2015): E928–E936.

Suzanne King, PhD

Time:   Friday, August 17, 11:00-12:30 pm

Title: Using Natural Disasters During Pregnancy to Increase Understanding of the Biopsychosocial Mechanisms of Human Neurodevelopment

Topic: Field Methods

Abstract: Neurodevelopment is a complex process with roots in the prenatal, and perhaps even the preconception, periods. Applying the experimental method with random assignment to groups, animal research on prenatal stress is clear in its model: applying stress to the pregnant dam increases her circulating glucocorticoids which can overwhelm the placental barrier enzyme 11-beta-HSD2 and alter fetal development. However, the generalization of the animal literature to humans is problematic given differences in the timing of fetal neurodevelopment relative to birth, and the greater complexity of our relationship with stress as human beings.

This presentation will take the audience through the development and results of a unique research program aimed at measuring the psychological, social, and biological aspects of prenatal maternal stress and its effects on the unborn child. Dr King studies child-bearing women who experience various degrees of hardship from natural disasters: the 1998 Quebec ice storm; the 2008 Iowa floods; the flooding in Queensland Australia in 2011; the wildfires of Fort McMurray, Alberta in 2016; and the flooding in Houston caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Using the quasi-random distribution of hardship in these samples, this research program is assembling a complex puzzle of the developmental origins of health and disease including the following factors: psychological and biological aspects of stress; DNA methylation; brain structure; immune function; and the prenatal and postnatal social factors that can buffer mother and child.

Biographical Note: Suzanne King, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University as well as a principle investigator at the McGill-affiliated Douglas Mental Health University Institute, both in Montreal, Canada. After graduate training in psychology and educational research in Virginia, she conducted post-doctoral research at the Douglas, studying the family dynamics of people with schizophrenia. Her results led to the study of risk factors for mental illness, and then of prenatal maternal stress in particular. She is currently running five studies of children exposed to natural disasters in utero in order to understand the nature and mechanisms of effects of prenatal stress.

Readings (* = required)

  1. *Prenatal maternal stress and brain development – a review [1]
  2. *Prenatal maternal stress and epigenetics – a review [2]
  3. *Overview of using disasters in prenatal stress research [3]
  4. Prenatal care buffers maternal mental health from stress [4]
  5. Social support buffers maternal mental health from stress [5]
  6. A psychosocial model of prenatal stress and child development [6]
  7. Prenatal stress predicts infant cognitive development [7]
  8. Parental behavior buffers infant neurodevelopment from prenatal stress [8]
  9. Prenatal stress alters placental glucocorticoid signaling [9]
  10. Prenatal stress and immune function [10]
  1. Charil A, Laplante DP, Vaillancourt C, King S: Prenatal stress and brain development. Brain Res Rev 2010, 65:56-79.
  2. Cao-Lei L, de Rooij SR, King S, Matthews SG, Metz GAS, Roseboom TJ, Szyf M: Prenatal stress and epigenetics. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2017.
  3. King S, Dancause KN, Turcotte-Tremblay A-M, Veru F, Laplante DP: Using Natural Disasters to Study the Effects of Prenatal Maternal Stress on Child Health and Development. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today 2012, 96:273-288.
  4. Kildea S, Simcock G, Liu A, Kahler A, Tracy S, Austin M, Elgbeili G, Laplante DP, Kruske S, Tracy M, et al: Continuity of midwifery care moderates the effects of prenatal maternal stress on postnatal maternal wellbeing: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. Arch Womens Ment Health 2018, 21:203-214.
  5. Kroska EB, O’Hara MW, Elgbeili G, Hart KJ, Laplante DP, Dancause KN, King S: The impact of maternal flood-related stress and social support on offspring weight in early childhood. Arch Womens Ment Health 2017.
  6. Moss KM, Simcock G, Cobham V, Kildea S, Elgbeili G, Laplante DP, King S: A potential psychological mechanism linking disaster-related prenatal maternal stress with child cognitive and motor development at 16 months: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. Dev Psychol 2017, 53:629-641.
  7. Laplante DP, Brunet A, Schmitz N, Ciampi A, King S: Project Ice Storm: Prenatal maternal stress affects cognitive and linguistic functioning in 5½-year-old children. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2008, 47:1063-1072.
  8. Austin MP, Christl B, McMahon C, Kildea S, Reilly N, Yin C, Simcock G, Elgbeili G, Laplante DP, King S: Moderating effects of maternal emotional availability on language and cognitive development in toddlers of mothers exposed to a natural disaster in pregnancy: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. Infant Behav Dev 2017, 49:296-309.
  9. St-Pierre J, Laplante DP, Elgbeili G, Dawson PA, Kildea S, King S, Vaillancourt C: Natural disaster-related prenatal maternal stress is associated with alterations in placental glucocorticoid system: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2018, 94:38-48.
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