Melissa Rosenkranz, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Neuroscience
Center for Healthy Minds
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Faculty Profile
Center for Healthy Minds
Faculty Profile
University of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry

“Toward an Integrated Understanding of Mind-Body Health: From Mechanisms to Interventions”

This talk will cover the bidirectional interactions between the brain and the immune system, using asthma as a clinical model to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the over-representation of psychopathology and cognitive decline in populations with chronic inflammatory disease. I will present data from a series of brain imaging studies that show that inflammation in the body can modulate neural responses to emotion and that neural responses to emotion can modulate inflammation in the body, with clinically meaningful consequences. I’ll also share work demonstrating that mental training can have descending impact on peripheral inflammation and disease-related outcomes. Finally, I’ll advance the hypothesis that the relationship between emotion and inflammation may portend a more fundamental neurodegenerative process, giving rise a range of poor outcomes, including dementia.

Melissa Rosenkranz, Ph.D., is Distinguished Chair in Contemplative Neuroscience at the Center for Healthy Minds and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Rosenkranz is interested in the neural-immune and biochemical mechanisms by which individual differences in response to emotion alter resilience to and the progression of disease. She is also interested in the impact of meditation practice on emotion response and, subsequently, on the neural-immune and biochemical mechanisms underlying resilience or vulnerability to disease. Her program of research is focused on investigating the biology of the bi-directional mind-brain-immune pathways through which emotion and inflammation are mutually influential using a wide range of tools for this purpose, including functional and structural neuroimaging (MRI and PET).

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