Neurobiological Research with Dissociative Populations: Multifaceted Perspectives

Abstract
Despite gaining increasing media attention over the years, dissociative symptoms and disorders are infrequently the focus of research. Misinformation and skepticism surround dissociative phenomena, which has led to the exclusion of dissociative features and populations from neurobiological research. In this panel, a group of clinical researchers will discuss ways in which they have incorporated dissociation in their program of research, from cross-sectional to longitudinal/intervention studies. Panelists will describe their approaches to increasing acceptance of dissociation in various research contexts, and will explain the different ways in which they have included dissociative populations in various research contexts. They will discuss insights they have gained throughout the years, as well as ethical considerations for the conduct of neurobiological research with dissociative populations. Dr. Janine Thome will discuss her unique program of research on dissociative trauma-exposed individuals, which focuses on the role of arousal and related brain circuitry on the development of dissociative symptoms. She will discuss her focus on often-neglected brain regions, the midbrain and brainstem, and their roles in dissociative symptoms in people with posttraumatic stress disorder. Dr. Negar Fani will describe her program of cross-sectional and interventional research in trauma-exposed Black American individuals over the past 15 years, discussing ways in which she has incorporated neuropsychological, psychophysiology and neuroimaging techniques to investigate dissociative phenomena. Dr. Sherain Harricharan will discuss how emotion dysregulation among individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect sensory signaling pathways in the brain. She will introduce a theoretical hierarchy of sensory transmission in the aftermath of trauma and discuss its clinical impact on the distinct PTSD and dissociative subtype symptom profiles. Discussants (Drs. Lebois and Kaufman) will provide a synthesis of these studies, including strengths and limitations of existing methods, moderating discussion with the audience on ways to incorporate research methods across varied settings.

Target Audience

Intermediate

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this session participants will be able to:

  • Describe current neurobiological methods being used with dissociative populations
  • Identify different applications of these methods across different types of dissociative populations
  • Understand strengths and weaknesses of these methods
  • Interpret data from these methods
  • Consider different ways to incorporate neurobiological with clinical information

Additional Information

AttachmentSize
File Neurobiological Research.pptx59.05 MB
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.50 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 1.50 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
Course opens: 
11/01/2023
Course expires: 
12/31/2050
ISSTD Member cost:
$35.00
Your Price:
$55.00
Rating: 
0
Presenter: Negar Fani, PhD
Presenter Bio: Dr. Negar Fani is a clinical neuropsychologist and Associate Professor at Emory University in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; she is also an affiliate faculty member in the Emory University Neuroscience Program where she serves as co-Chair of Admissions. She graduated with a PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology from Georgia State University in 2011. Her laboratory uses a variety of brain and behavior tools to examine trauma-related problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation. She uses affective cognitive paradigms, neuropsychological testing, psychophysiology, functional and structural MRI. Dr. Fani examines trauma-related disruptions in attention and the intersection of social injustices (e.g., racist experiences) with attention, interoception, and autonomic regulation. Dr. Fani also explores how traumatic experiences interact with genetics, brain function and structure to increase vulnerability for the development of posttraumatic phenomena. As a licensed psychologist, she has worked with veteran and civilian populations, and has expertise in working with individuals who have complex trauma histories and multiple comorbidities using an integrative approach that includes exposure-based therapies (prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy) as well as psychodynamic and mindfulness methods. She uses multimodal data to inform her intervention targets, and is currently conducting a mechanistic clinical trial using device-assisted breath-focused mindfulness to target attentional control and interoception in dissociative individuals. Dr. Fani's research is funded by the National Institute of Health, the American Psychological Association and foundational funding. She has over 90 publications, many of which are in high-impact journals such as JAMA Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry.
 
Presenter: Janine Thome, Prof
Presenter Bio: Janine Thome is an interim professor at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences Heidelberg (Germany). She is also associated with the department of Theoretical Neuroscience at the Institute of Mental Health Mannheim, Heidelberg University (Germany) and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario (Canada). She received her degree in Psychology at Bielefeld University in 2012 and went on to complete her doctoral degree in Psychology at Heidelberg University in 2017. She was pursuing her research with Prof. Dr. Ruth Lanius in her first postdoctoral appointment at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario, Canada. She continued her postdoctoral work at the department of Theoretical Neuroscience at the Institute of Mental Health Mannheim, Heidelberg University (Germany) with Dr. Georgia Koppe. Sind 2015, she is working as a clinical psychologist in training with a focus on treating individuals suffering from trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Janine’s research focuses on the impact of trauma on psychophysiological and neuronal responses and associated processes such as memory and cognitive functions. Her research interests include studying how trauma affects critical survival processes such as arousal regulation at the brain level. In this context, she investigates the role of dissociation and the interplay of the central nervous system and the autonomous nervous system (i.e., brain-body interaction). She is also concerned with the impact of trauma on implicit memory processes, their neuronal underpinnings, and the association with dissociation. Janine aims to inform therapeutic approaches through her research by identifying behavioral and biopsychological parameters. To date, she has published 33 publications and serves on the Scientific Committee for the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.
 
Presenter: Sherain Harricharan, PhD
Presenter Bio: Sherain Harricharan received her undergraduate degree in Biology and Medical Sciences at Western University in 2015, and then went on to complete her doctoral degree in Neuroscience at Western University with Dr. Ruth Lanius in 2019. She is currently pursuing a second doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario under the supervision of Dr. Margaret McKinnon. Sherain’s research focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), employing various neuroimaging approaches to study altered neural circuitry patterns among traumatized individuals. Her research interests include studying how sensory processing pathways in the brain are altered as a function of trauma and dissociation, emphasizing their impact on the performance of higher-order cognitive functions, including emotion regulation, social cognition, perception, and attentional processing. Sherain is dedicated to identifying neural correlates that can aid in the development of clinically-oriented sensorimotor treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder that can be broadly applicable to all manifestations of the disorder, including dissociative symptomatology. To date, she has published extensively in a variety of high-impact journals; she has 14 peer-reviewed publications and serves on the Scientific Committee for the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. She is also a member for the Interational Study for Traumatic Stress Studies and has spoken at numerous professional conferences since the start of her graduate studies in post traumatic stress disorder.
 
Presenter: Lauren Lebois, PhD
Presenter Bio: Dr. Lauren Lebois is a cognitive neuroscientist who is passionate about understanding how the mind, brain, and body adapt in the aftermath of trauma. She prioritizes translating scientific breakthroughs in accessible, compelling, and clinically-relevant ways. Dr. Lebois is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, where she serves as the Director of the Dissociative Disorders and Trauma Research Program at McLean Hospital. Dr. Lebois’ National Institute of Mental Health funded research program focuses on the neurobiology of dissociation in trauma-spectrum disorders. Her published research analyzes the therapeutic effect of mindfulness-related treatments, the role of learning, experience, and plasticity in emotion, and the assessment of brain and behavioral correlates of dissociation. Dr. Lebois serves as the Scientific Committee Chair for the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), and the Operations Co-Director of the Initiative for Integrated Trauma Research, Care and Training at McLean Hospital. In 2021, she was awarded McLean Hospital’s Alfred Pope Award for Young Investigators for the publication of an exceptional peer-reviewed, first-authored publication, and ISSTD’s Pierre Janet Writing Award for the best research paper in the field of dissociation and/or trauma within the past year. Recently, she also received the Morton Prince Award from ISSTD for her outstanding cumulative contributions to research on dissociative disorders. Dr. Lebois is deeply committed to using her advances in neurobiology, behavior, and treatment to reduce the stigma and improve care for individuals living with PTSD and dissociative identity disorder.

Available Credit

  • 1.50 APA
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • 1.50 ASWB ACE
    The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
  • 1.50 ISSTD Certificate Program
    This program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.

Price

ISSTD Member cost:
$35.00
Your Price:
$55.00
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