The brain-body axis in neurodevelopmental conditions

Organiser: Other


Attendance type(s): Virtual

Event Dates: 24 Oct 2022

Increasingly, researchers in cognitive and affective neuroscience are adopting embodied approaches that emphasize reciprocal connections between brain and body, and the influence of these connections on behaviour, emotion, and cognition. These approaches contrast traditional unidirectional formulations of body as effector, with minimal influence on higher-order computation. Such work has highlighted the role of visceral processes, such as the cardiovascular system, in guiding higher order outputs. From individual components of the cardiac cycle to longer-term rhythmic fluctuations, the heart and brain appear to be in constant dynamic communication.

These approaches have shed new light on mechanisms underlying interaction with the world around us, how emotions are generated, and the aetiology of psychiatric conditions. In particular, brain-body connections may have important bearings on neurodevelopmental conditions, which are characterized by early-onset but lifelong differences in behaviour, emotion, and cognition.

In this talk, I will highlight recent findings that speak to the embodied processes underlying typical cognition, and how alterations in these processes can relate to both the core features of several neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism, dyslexia, and ADHD, as well as associated, commonly occurring, affective difficulties.

About the speaker
Eleanor Palser is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. She obtained her PhD from University College London in 2018. Her work focuses on understanding the contribution of brain-body interaction to the symptomatology of neurodevelopmental conditions. She has worked with autism, dyslexia, and ADHD populations to map differences in interoception, emotion, and empathy. She uses a variety of methods from affective science, including psychophysiology, behavioural coding, and neuroimaging. She is currently the recipient of a Schwab Innovation Fund Award for her research on the biological mechanisms underlying enhanced creativity and empathy in dyslexia.

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