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UW Symposium: How Disease, Therapy, Drugs and Meditation Reshape the Brain,

Leading neuroscientists will gather at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the 16th annual symposium on emotion in April to discuss how the human brain changes in response to disease and treatment.

Madison, WI (Vocus) March 10, 2010 -- Leading neuroscientists will gather at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the 16th annual symposium on emotion in April to discuss how the human brain changes in response to disease and treatment.

The brain is a very plastic organ and we now know that changes in the structure and function of the brain are associated with learning, psychiatric illness and treatment, and positive intrapersonal growth. Topics include brain changes wrought by depression; brain mechanisms underlying the placebo response, how the brain is altered in individuals prone to bullying and aggression, and how meditation influences well-being through its influences on brain plasticity.

“It’s a world-class lineup of researchers who will present their latest work on the neuroplasticity of the brain as it relates to helping people make significant behavioral and emotional changes as well as in treating individuals with more severe mental illness,” says Dr. Ned Kalin, chair of psychiatry at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and chair of the HealthEmotions Research Institute.

Neuroplasticity of Emotion: Psychopathology & Treatment” will be held in the Ebling Auditorium on the UW-Madison campus April 21 and 22. Scientists who will be presenting their research include:

  • Dr. Ron Duman, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, Yale School of Medicine, will discuss how stress and depression can kill neurons in the brain.
  • Dr. John Krystal, chair of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, will talk about how treatment with medications that affect neuroplasticity can be used to facilitate the effects of talk therapy in patients with anxiety disorders.
  • Dr. Richard Davidson, Vilas Professor of psychiatry and psychology at the UW, will discuss his studies on well-being and how meditation affects the neural circuitry involved in emotion and cognition.
  • Dr. Richard Tremblay, professor of pediatrics, psychiatry and psychology at the University of Montreal, will talk about the developmental origin of aggression and preventive factors.
  • Jennifer Beer, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas, will discuss how the frontal lobe is involved in modulating social behavior by self-monitoring.
  • Jon Kar-Zubieta, professor of psychiatry at the Univeristiy of Michigan, will discuss how molecular changes in the brain mediate the placebo response.

“The meeting is absolutely unique in that it allows the speakers to have an hour to present their work and an additional hour is dedicated to the discussion of each presentation,” Kalin says.

  • discussion is led by UW students who have participated this semester in a course focused on the work of the presenting scientists. The HealthEmotions Research Institute provides travel scholarship awards to support the expenses of up to 45 trainees from the US and around the world to come to Madison to participate in the meeting. The institute encourages students from all levels – undergraduate, graduate, medical, residents in psychiatry and post-doctoral PhD candidates – to attend.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students at all levels to interact with world- class scientists and to meet UW-Madison faculty,” Kalin says. “All interested UW faculty and students are invited to attend.” For more information about the meeting, travel scholarships, and registrationfor the 16th Annual Wisconsin Symposium on Emotion, see


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