Virtual Talk at Southampton University, hosted by Ellen Hedström
Time & Location
About the Event
Over the last ten years, my neurocognitive research – with collaborators in UK (London, Liverpool), Sweden and South Africa – has contributed to a greater understanding of the neural processes associated with appetite and impulse control. Appetite and impulsivity are bottom-up, dopaminergic, basal ganglia, reward and motivation processes that are usually managed by top-down glutamatergic, GABAergic and dopaminergic prefrontal cortex executive control functions, such as working memory. Working memory enables the keeping-in-mind of cognitive strategies that correspond to the attainment of future goals, while avoiding distractions to these goals, such as the impulse to consume highly palatable food or stimulant drugs, or anxiety cognitions associated with rapid change in societal rules, as we have seen during the COVID-19 era. In this talk, I will summarise the main milestones in this collaborative research effort that has led to a conceptualisation of how the neural processes of verbal working memory are the lynchpin of appetite and impulse control. I will show brain imaging and neurocognitive data from our publications examining the neural processes of appetite and impulse control from a range of populations, including adult and adolescent anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, obesity, methamphetamine use disorder, and most recently, people who accept versus those who resist COVID lockdown rules. The collection of empirical findings presented, will provide a convincing argument that we are closer than ever before to understanding how the brain achieves appetite and impulse control, and how we can design cognitive interventions to strengthen it.