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SYMPOSIUM 5: Emotion and Motivation

Maurizio Fava, Larry J. Young, Eric Nestler, Helen S. Mayberg, Linea Johnson


Introduction from Chair - Maurizio Fava, MD

Frontiers of Social Cognition - Larry J. Young, PhD
Social relationships are at the core of every healthy society and the quality of early social attachments contributes to emotional and social development. Social neuroscientists have made great strides in recent years in understanding how the brain functions to promote social relationships. I will highlight some of the most exciting discoveries on the biology of social bonding based on animal models. Studies using the monogamous prairie vole have revealed an important role for neuropeptides, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, in building stable social relationships, and variation in these systems contributes to diversity in social behavior. I will discuss the remarkable parallels between these studies in voles and recent studies in humans which suggest that these mechanisms are highly conserved from rodent to man. These observations have important implications for drug discovery and novel treatment strategies for psychiatric disorders characterized by disruptions in social behavior, including autism.

Neurobiology of Reward: Implications for Addiction and Depression - Eric Nestler, MD, PhD
The brain contains reward regions that regulate responses to natural rewards, such as food, sex, and social  interaction. These same regions are targeted by drugs of abuse to cause addiction, and malfunction in depression, which is characterized by deficits in reward. Studies in animal models have identified genes that are altered in brain reward regions by drugs of abuse or stress. Such findings are now defining innovative pathways toward the development of new treatments for these illnesses.

Exploiting the Neural Circuitry of Depression - Helen S. Mayberg, MD
Advances in neuroimaging have shifted the focus from psychological and neurochemical theories of depression to more anatomically based, systems-level models. The impact of this shift is demonstrated by the recent testing of a novel intervention for intractable depression based on one such ‘network’ model: deep brain stimulation of the subcallosal cingulate white matter. The theoretical and data-driven foundation for this new procedure as well as clinical results from ongoing studies will be presented.

Advocate Remarks - Linea Johnson


Maurizio Fava, MD is Executive Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the MGH Depression Clinical and Research Program.

Larry J. Young, PhD is the William P. Timmie Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University. Dr. Young is an expert in the neurobiological and genetic mechanisms underlying social behavior in animal models. He uses the prairie vole as a model species to study the roles of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in the regulation of social behaviors.

Eric Nestler, MD, PhD is the Nash Family Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine as well as Director of the Friedman Brain Institute. The goal of his group’s research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms of drug addiction and depression.

Helen S. Mayberg, MD is a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology as well as the Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair of Psychiatric Neuroimaging and Therapeutics at Emory University School of Medicine. Her research group utilizes functional and structural brain imaging methods (resting state, task-based PET and fMRI, sMRI volumetrics, DTI tractography) to characterize neural circuits mediating both clinical symptoms and illness recovery in patients with major depression.

Linea Johnson recently completed a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. Her first book, Perfect Chaos (St. Martin’s Press, 2012), is a memoir about her diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder. Linea has published articles in journals including Clearing House, Fragments and Mobility International USA. She manages and writes the blog for BringChange2Mind and also works with Dr. Delaney Ruston, MD and filmmaker (Unlisted and Where in the World is Mental Health). Linea has a deep commitment to promoting positive mental health and decreasing the sigma that mental illness carries. In addition to her writing, Linea travels the country presenting at national and international mental health, disability, and educational conferences. Her website is


A one-on-one interview with Larry J. Young can be found here.

A one-on-one interview with Helen S. Mayberg can be found here.