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Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Psychology and Social Change

Austen Riggs Center

25 Main St Large Conference Room
Stockbridge 01262
January 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Friday Night Guest Lecture

Bruce E. Wexler, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry at Yale University, former NIH Career Research Scientist, recipient of NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and 2013 Kempf Fund Award recipient from the American Psychiatric Association.

Most differences between the human and chimpanzee genome are in genes that regulate expression of other genes. These changes mean that the structure and function of the human brain is far more sensitive to shaping by environmental input than are the brains of any other animals. Humans are also the only animals that shape the environment that in turn shapes our brains. Described in psychological rather than neurobiological terms, these processes were well known to ego psychologists. In the first part of life an "internal/external homology" is created by the brain shaping itself to the human made environment. Once brain structures are established, neuroplasticity is reduced and adults act on the environment largely to try and make it conform to existing internal structures. Understanding these changes through the life span in neuroplasticity and the relationship between the individual and the environment can increase understanding of bereavement, immigration and violent inter-cultural conflict.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES – At the conclusion of the event the participants will be able to:
1. list three processes through which the structure and function of the human brain are shaped by environmental input.
2. list three processes through which human beings act on the environment to make it match existing internal neurocognitive structures.
3. identify clinical and societal responses to changes in the social and cultural environments that exceed individual abilities to maintain a fit between internal representations of the world and external reality.

This presentation is designed for mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, with no regular registration fee.

The Austen Riggs Center accepts no commercial support of any kind to support our CME/CE events.  The Austen Riggs Center’s policy on disclosure requires ARC Guest Speakers to disclose any significant financial interest or other relationship with any commercial supporters of this live activity. In keeping with this policy and the disclosure requirements of the Massachusetts Medical Society, we acknowledge that Dr. Wexler, as founder and Chief Scientist of C8 Sciences has disclosed a potential conflict of interest. On review, however, the content of this presentation appears to be free of influence from commercial interests.  

CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS AUTHORIZED:  2.0   (M.D., Ph.D., Social Work)

For more information contact Alicia Zaludova at 413-931-5230.

Duration: 
2 hours
Intended Audience: 
Clinician

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