Sophia Armand defends her PhD thesis

Sophia Armand. Foto: Nana Havnø
Sophia Armand. Photo: Nana Havnø

Title

'Affective cognition and brain serotonin in healthy individuals - The role of brain serotonin in cognitive-affective biases and amygdala response to threat'.

Time and place

20 January 2022 at 2 pm (CET).

The defence will take place in Auditorium 35.01.06 at The Faculty of Social Sciences (CSS), Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen.

The defence will also be streamed online on Zoom. 

Link to the defence.
Passcode: 542169.

After the defence there will be a reception in the foyer by the auditorium (35.01.06).

Assessment committee

  • Professor Kamilla Miskowiak, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (chair)

  • Associate Professor Kim Kuypers, Section Psychopharmacology, Maastricht University, Netherlands

  • Senior research fellow Susannah Murphy, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Supervisors

  • Associate Professor Dea Siggaard Stenbæk, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Neurobiology Research Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark (principal supervisor)

  • Professor Gitte Moos Knudsen, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Neurobiology Research Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark

  • Professor Barbara Sahakian, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • PhD and senior researcher Patrick MacDonald Fisher, Neurobiology Research Unit, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark

Abstract

This PhD project examines whether serotonin in the brain regulates affective cognition (i.e., processing emotions such as facial expressions) in healthy people. We used interdisciplinary methods to explore the brain and cognition in samples of the healthy Danish population, including molecular and functional neuroimaging (i.e., PET and fMRI) and neuropsychological testing combined with pharmacological agents that target brain serotonin. These agents included a 3-5 weeks intake of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or the psychedelic psilocybin, two pharmacological agents that can reduce depressive symptoms. We found that serotonin is involved in regulating certain domains of affective cognition in healthy people, such as sensitivity to negative facial expressions, an important cognitive domain for mental health. This PhD project demonstrates an interplay between brain serotonin and how one processes emotions, an interplay that may be critically involved in regulating mental health and treating mental health issues.