The future of depression: from brain plasticity to resilience. Wed 17th April, 6pm to 7.30pm.

Major depression is a debilitating mental illness that, according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 322 million people (i.e. 4.4% of the world’s population).

Depression is a disorder of brain “plasticity”, i.e. the ability of nerve cells, connections and circuits within the brain to adapt to environmental changes. Depression arises from combinations of genetic and environmental factors.  In common with many other non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular and metabolic disorders), one well-known risk factor is early life adversity (ELA), e.g. childhood abuse and/or neglect. A shared pathology across these diseases is best conceptualised as “homeostatic shift” or modification of biological equilibrium as one adjusts to chronic stressors. ELA may lead to alterations in stress and immune systems that adversely affect brain plasticity and contribute to causing depression.

Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience researchers will lead a public workshop highlighting these exciting developments in understanding depression biology and explore their contributions to treatment.

Presenters will include a mixture of pre-clinical and clinical researchers: Prof Andrew Harkin, Prof Veronica O’Keane, and Prof Declan McLoughlin.  The first brief talk will provide an introduction to the concepts of brain plasticity and stress; the second talk will focus on how early life adversity affects the developing brain and impairs normal homeostatic mechanisms; and the third talk will address how current and new therapies can target brain plasticity to treat depression. The three 15 minute talks will be followed by a 45 minutes discussion with the audience.

Where: Paccar Theatre, Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin

Target audience: Members of the general public interested in the latest neuroscience research and treatments for depression

Contact for enquiries: Prof Declan McLoughlin, d.mcloughlin@tcd.ie

This event is organised by Neuroscience Ireland.