Course Title: Plenary E: The Neuropsychology of Delicious: An Integration of Mind and Metabolism (Small)


Credit Hours: 1


Instructor(s) Dana Small


Dana M. Small, PhD Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology Yale University Director of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center
Plenary E: The Neuropsychology of Delicious: An Integration of Mind and Metabolism
Abstract & Learning Objectives: The conscious perception of the hedonic sensory properties of foods is commonly believed to guide our dietary choices. However, emerging work reveals that physiological signals functioning independently of conscious processes – such as the experience of pleasure - are the driving force behind our food choices. Moreover, these signals contribute not only to the regulation of food preferences, but also to perception, mood, memory, executive functions and even social behaviors. In short, the “gut-brain” axis has become an important new frontier for the field of neuropsychology. In this lecture a series of studies will be presented that establish the importance of peripheral signals in determining food reward and demonstrate how diet can impact this axis to influence brain functions beyond those related to ingestive behavior thus highlighting the importance of the gut-brain axis for understanding neuropsychological functions. Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:
  • Describe the physiological signals and conscious processes behind food choices
  • Explain the interaction between the gut-brain axis as a driver of food reward
Speaker Biography: Dr. Dana Small is a Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at Yale University and the Director of the Modern Diet and Physiology Research Center. A psychologist and neuroscientist with graduate degrees from McGill University, she has been on the Yale University faculty since 2004. Currently, she is also a visiting Professor at the University of Tubingen. Professor Small’s research focuses on understanding how sensory, metabolic and neural signals are integrated to determine food choices and on how the dysregulation of these systems contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cognitive impairment. Her work combines neuroimaging with metabolic, psychophysical and neuropsychological methods in humans and she has established a translational - reverse translational program of research through collaborations with colleagues working in mouse models. She is Past Program Chair of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and Association of Chemoreception Sciences, Executive Editor of the journals Appetite, Molecular Metabolism and Biological Psychiatry and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Behavior, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences.