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April 17, 2023
Seminar Title: The Impact of Sex, Age, and Stress on Cognitive Bias
Presenter: Dr. Travis Hodges, Assistant Professor at Mount Holyoke College
Dr. Travis Hodges is an Assistant Professor in the department of Psychology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, USA. On his journey, Travis completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba (Manitoba, Canada) and then completed his Masters and Ph.D. in Psychology at Brock University (Ontario, Canada) under the supervision of Dr. Cheryl McCormick, where he held an NSERC graduate scholarship. He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Liisa Galea (UBC, British Columbia Canada), with acquired funding from the Institute of Mental Health Marshall Fellows Program and a Women’s Health Research Institute Catalyst Grant. Travis has won many travel awards, presentation awards, and a poster award at international conferences. Travis is devoted to mentorship and providing a safe environment for trainees to enjoy science. Travis is also devoted to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through connections with the Women’s Health Research Cluster and #BlackinNeuro.
Talk Summary: Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects 20% of the population and women are twice more likely to develop MDD compared with men. Negative cognitive bias is the increased perception of ambiguous situations as negative and predicts the onset of future depressive episodes. Current treatments to reduce MDD symptoms are not effective for reducing negative cognitive bias. Cognitive bias involves pattern separation, which is the ability to discriminate between highly similar situations, and pattern separation relies on hippocampal integrity and is inhibited by inflammation. Cognitive bias was tested in rats using a novel method, and the involvement of neural networks, inflammation, and neurogenesis were measured in male and female rats throughout development and after chronic unpredictable stress. These data provide examples of mechanistic sex differences in the display of negative cognitive bias across development and stress the importance of analysing sex and age when investigating the neurobiology of depressive-like phenotypes.