#SfN16 must-sees on adolescent brain development, adversity, and mental health, By Lizanne Schweren
By Lizanne Schweren
When planning my SfN itinerary, the amazing meeting planner helped me identify plenty of sessions and presentations that sound really interesting. Here, I’d like to share some of my favorites with you. If you, like me, are interested in psychiatry, neuroimaging, developmental disorders, adolescent development, or early stress and adversity, the following presentations may be worth attending:
388.05. Rewarded approach of threatening spiders engages areas of the mesolimbic dopamine system (F. Ahs) Monday 2-2.15pm @SDCC2
Professionally, I’d love to learn more about dopaminergic modulation of fear; personally, however, I’m terribly afraid of spiders, to put it mildly. My ambivalence is probably very similar to what the brave arachnophobic volunteers in Ahs’ study felt while in the MRI scanner, as they were invited to view spider pictures for money. To be totally honest: at the moment of writing, I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll go see the spider presentation or not. Follow my blog over the next few days to see which was stronger: fear or curiosity.
662. The social brain in human adolescence (S-J. Blakemore). Wednesday 11.30am-12.40pm @SDCC Ballroom 20
It’s intriguing how children inevitably grow up, change, struggle, learn, adapt, experiment, get confused and then refocus. The majority of mental illnesses surface before the age of 24, with adolescence as a major high-risk period. I’m looking forward to the presentation of professor Blakemore, arguably a leading expert in the field and a great speaker.
772.06. Early adversity affects amygdala-cortical functional connectivity: links to adversity and gut microbial community structure. (B.L. Callaghan) Wednesday 2.15-2.30pm @SDCC5B
The brain is pretty cool, but luckily it’s not the only organ we have. The more I learn about neuroscience, the more I realize that all organs should be treated with equal respect. Seeing work such as that of Callaghan et al., I can’t help but think that the current neuroscience craze may simply be another symptom of society’s irrational belief in the rationality of human behaviors. Are we, neuroscientists, guilty of tunnel vision? Or worse, have we been staring at the wrong organ? You’ll definitely find me attending this presentation!
PDW13. How to Present Science Using Visual Tools (workshop). Monday 9-11am @SDCC30C
“A picture is worth a thousand words”. That is, a good picture. A thousand words! Imagine having one thousand extra words for that paper you’ve been trying to shorten in order to meet the journal’s word count, and you’ll understand my excitement about this workshop. In addition, good visuals are very helpful when explaining our findings to audiences that have not read our papers, and are not necessarily planning to do so. Sleek visuals will make you stand out from the crowd. In this workshop on Monday morning, experienced speakers will share their tips, tricks, and tools to create attractive visuals. I’m looking forward to learning about new tools to communicate my science and engage my audience!
Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshuatreenp
Any views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of PLOS.
Lizanne Schweren is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Psychiatry, where she studies what makes the adolescent brain so highly vulnerable to developing depression and other psychiatric problems.