Plenary Lecture

Plenary Lecture

Experience-Dependent Brain Plasticity:
A Key Concept for Mental Health and Disease

Professor Martha Koukkou
The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract: The presentation reviews conceptual issues about the relationships between experience-dependent brain plasticity and the development of cognitive-emotional behavior styles recognizable as normal or deviant. Integrative brain sciences produced findings which show that
(a) Human subjectivity is the product of the neocortical learning and memory functions that create biography (autobiographical memory).
(b) These learning and memory functions extract personal meaning using the brain's intrinsic capacity to generate experience-induced neuronal connectivity that represents the myriad of idiosyncratic associations of experiences, events, objects, names, emotions, actions, decisions. The content of the autobiographical memory characterize the individual's cognitive-emotional and behavior style.
(c) Contents of the autobiographical memory that represent the effects of uncooperative (stress-inducing) interactions of the social environment with the developing individual are maladaptive. Maladaptive memory content underlies the manifestation of neurotic, psychosomatic and psychotic symptoms.

Brief Biography of the Speaker:
Martha Koukkou, M.D. is Professor em. of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. She is a psychophysiologist, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist. She received her M.D. from the University of Athens, Greece. Postgraduate work in research and clinic in Germany and U.S.A. Since 1971 in Switzerland where she organized and headed the laboratories of Psychiatric Neurophysiology at the University Hospitals of Psychiatry in Zurich and Bern. After retirement, continuing teaching and research on brain and behaviour as Associate Scientist at The KEY Institute for Brain-Mind Research of the University of Zurich. Publications in the field of electrophysiology of brain information processing during development, sleep, and neurotic and psychotic symptomatology, as well as on modeling of the personal meaning-extracting brain functions which create subjectivity.

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