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Artificial Intelligence, Personalized Technology, and Mental Health

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 8:42am

AI and personalized technologies are transforming everyday life. They facilitate individualized information delivery, offer personalized monitoring strategies, and opportunities for specific therapy. They enable innovative tools and health-focused applications that empower individuals, their friends and families, to track and learn their emotional patterns in order to strengthen support systems. Join us for an evening of AI to engage with University of Michigan experts as they discuss the implications of using AI for mental health care:

  • How will AI and personalized technologies fit into the mental health care system? 
  • Who benefits? How? 
  • How do we measure outcomes? 

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Kick the Sugar Craving

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 12:30pm

Join health coach Jennifer Sprague to learn about sugar cravings, what sugar does to the body, and why it's so hard to cut sugar out of your diet. She provides tips for getting unstuck when it comes to sugar.

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Exploring the Mind | Adversity Resilience and the Developing Brain

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:52am

Join Dr. Christopher Monk, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience & CHGD Research Professor at the University of Michigan, as he characterizes the developmental risks of childhood adversity and discusses the social and biological mechanisms that may explain the striking degree of resilience found in the adolescent brain.

Childhood adversity, such as growing up in poverty or experiencing parental neglect, is associated with a host of negative outcomes, including depression and low educational attainment. Although it is understood that these types of adversity alter the brain and increase the risk for problems, it is not known what forms of adversity are most pernicious and how they affect the brain. In the presentation, Dr. Monk describes a study comprised predominantly of adolescents from low-income backgrounds who have been followed since birth. Using brain imaging methods, Dr. Monk shows how two specific and chronic forms of adversity, violence exposure and social deprivation, impact brain development in different ways.  At the same time, the adolescents show a striking degree of resilience, despite the challenging circumstances. 

Dr. Monk is a Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. He is also a Research Professor in the Survey Research Center at ISR and the Center for Human Growth and Development. Dr. Monk received his PhD in Child Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. He then went on to the NIMH Intramural Research Program where he was a postdoc and later a fellow. His research program involves two active and related lines of research. In the first line, he is examining how poverty-related stressors and the developmental timing of those stressors impact brain development, stress hormone regulation and anxiety as well as depression symptoms during adolescence. For the second line of research, he is investigating how effective treatments for anxiety (cognitive behavioral therapy or medication) alter brain function and how these brain alterations relate to clinical outcome in children and adolescents.

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Author Event | Cecile Richards Discusses Her Book "Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead"

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 11:48am

Cecile Richards has been an activist since she was taken to the principal’s office in seventh grade for wearing an armband in protest of the Vietnam War. Richards had an extraordinary childhood in ultra-conservative Texas, where her civil rights attorney father and activist mother taught their kids to be troublemakers. She had a front-row seat to observe the rise of women in American politics and watched her mother, Ann, transform from a housewife to an electrifying force in the Democratic party.

As a young woman, Richards worked as a labor organizer alongside women earning minimum wage, and learned that those in power don’t give it up without a fight. She experienced first-hand the misogyny, sexism, fake news, and the ever-looming threat of violence that constantly confront women who challenge authority.

Now, after years of advocacy, resistance, and progressive leadership, she shares her “truly inspiring” (Redbook) story for the first time—from the joy and heartbreak of activism to the challenges of raising kids, having a life, and making change, all the while garnering a reputation as “the most badass feminist EVER” (Teen Vogue).

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Bright Nights Community Forum | What is Neuroscience and How Can it Change Psychiatry?

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:19am

As we understand the brain better, we should be able to improve our diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disease. In fact, ideally, neuroscience should lead us to be able to fully understand and possibly even repair brain circuits important for mental health conditions. But how likely are we to achieve that ideal?  What stands in our way?

Through science and technology, we have discovered a great deal about the brain. However, emotional systems and psychiatric disease are incredibly complex. Modern neuroscience has focused its efforts and advances on the brains of experimental animals, but we are still far from moving these highly precise interventions onto humans. The question remains: how do we translate this advanced work into solutions for individuals with mental illness?

Dr. Brendon Watson, Assistant Professor for the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan Medicine, gives a brief overview presentation of our current standing in neuroscience in relation to psychiatric practices, and shares where he believes we are going. Dr. Watson speaks about the tension between theory and practice within research and the importance of moving towards non-invasive procedures.

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Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum | Health Equity

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 2:57pm

Join local and national experts to learn about health inequities, including a discussion on climate change, mental health, and the role of public health in addressing these inequities. 

Natalie Sampson, PhD, MPH,  (Assistant Professor, University of Michigan-Dearborn), Ellen Rabinowitz (Health Officer, Washtenaw County Health Department), Dr. Felicia Brabec (Washtenaw County Commissioner, District 4), and Dr. Paul Fleming (Assistant Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education, University of Michigan)

Sustainable Ann Arbor is an annual series presented by the City of Ann Arbor and hosted by the Ann Arbor District Library. The series includes four events held monthly through April, each with a focus on a different element of sustainability from Ann Arbor’s Sustainability Framework.

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Genealogical DNA Testing

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:36pm

Join Mary Henderson of the Association of Professional Genealogists for an introduction to DNA testing for genealogy purposes. After a brief overview of basic genetics, Mary discusses the types of DNA tests available — autosomal, Y, X and mitochondrial — and provides an overview of DNA testing companies including ancestry.com, familytreedna.com, 23&me and My Heritage. Using an example of the DNA test result page provided by each company, Mary offers tips on how to navigate the findings.

Mary Henderson has 45 years of experience with traditional, document-based genealogy, and 6 years of experience with genetic genealogy.  She volunteers her services to adoptees seeking their birth parents and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

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Exploring the Mind | The Psychology of Germs, Disease, and Disgust

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 11:51am

Infectious diseases and the pathogens that cause them have been a serious problem throughout human history, with millions sickened and killed each year. In the modern world, hygiene and vaccinations help us manage this threat, but we also possess mental and physical defenses against germs. In this talk, Joshua Ackerman, Associate Professor of Psychology at U-M, discusses the emerging thinking on a set of defensive strategies grounded in our psychology – emotions, thought processes, and actions collectively called the “behavioral immune system.”

Feeling grossed out or avoidant when seeing spoiled food or sick people can help prevent infection, but these reactions also negatively affect our interactions with people, groups, and environments that in reality pose no danger. Disease-related thinking also spills over into how we see the world more generally, influencing aspects of our lives from cultural taboos to the products we buy. The psychology of germs, disease, and disgust may help us understand why.

This program was part of the "Exploring the Mind" series, a partnership with The University of Michigan Department of Psychology.

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Exploring the Mind | Sickness and Memory: How the Immune System Changes the Brain

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 4:05pm

Join Dr. Natalie Tronson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, as she describes the way immune system changes during illness can interfere with memory formation, and how this affects the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.

Memory is critical for the ability to function in the world. By storing and retrieving information about the relationships between places, events, and outcomes, our memories allow us to adjust our behavior to act in accordance with the current situation. We use our memory to navigate around our environment, efficiently finding our way to work and back home; to avoid dangerous places and things, to find food, and to recognize families, friends and colleagues. This central role of memory in our everyday lives means that disorders of memory are particularly impactful. Deficits in memory are one of the first and most notable symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, because they severely impact the ability for individuals to function independently in the world. Excessively strong memories are also problematic. For example, persistent memories of trauma contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to individuals avoiding places that trigger retrieval of those memory. But how do memory processes go bad? One thing we know about memory systems is that many different factors in our lives can change how well memory is stored. Stress can make some memories stronger, and some memories weaker. Illness also changes how well we can learn and remember information. This flexibility in how memory systems work also means that they are vulnerable to disruption by stress and sickness.

Natalie Tronson is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. After her undergraduate degree from the University of New South Wales, in Australia, Dr. Tronson moved to the United States and completed her PhD at Yale University, followed by a post-doctoral position at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on how the brain stores and retrieves memory, how memory is changed during stress and illness, and sex differences in these processes. Dr. Tronson’s research combines behavioral approaches and molecular analyses in an animal model of memory, with the goal of identifying new ways to prevent and treat memory disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.