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Meet the PI Lecture November 7, 2014, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm WPIC Auditorium

Meet the PI Lecture


Reward and the Adolescent Brain: 
Investigating the Development of Depression and Substance Use

Erika Forbes, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology
and Pediatrics 









Dr. Forbes is a clinical and developmental psychologist whose work combines affective neuroscience and developmental psychopathology. She completed her AB at Harvard University, obtained a Master’s degree and a PhD in child clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed a clinical psychology internship and a postdoctoral fellowship at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC).  She was appointed to the Department of Psychiatry faculty in 2005, where she has been actively engaged in research, teaching and mentorship.  An expert in the area of the role of function in neural reward circuitry in the development of depression, Dr. Forbes focuses on the both typical adolescents and those with affective problems and substance use.  She employs methods including fMRI, behavior observation, and ecological momentary assessment to examine physiological, behavioral, and phenomenological aspects of positive affect and reward function. Dr. Forbes has supported her research activities through awards from the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Brain and Behavioral Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD), and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation.  Her studies address the contributions of genetic characteristics, neural reward and affective circuitry, and social developmental history to longitudinal patterns of substance use; the role of neural response to reward in the development of depression in high-risk youth; and the development of ecologically valid fMRI methods to study neural response to social reward in adolescence.   Dr. Forbes has published her work in numerous scientific journals including the American Journal of Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry, and she is frequently invited to present her work at international conferences, universities, and the annual meetings of professional societies and associations.   In addition to her extensive research activities, Dr. Forbes is a teacher and thoughtful mentor to students, interns, and postdoctoral trainees, as well as junior faculty, including many from under-represented groups, and she received the 2013 WPIC Emerging Mentor Award.  She also serves as a reviewer for numerous scientific journals and agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, and the Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom.

Learning Objectives:   At the conclusion of this lecture, participants will be able to: 

  1. Recognize depression as a neurodevelopmental disorder and appreciate how depression emerges against the backdrop of typical adolescent development. 
  2. Identify the major components of neural reward circuitry. 
  3. Identify the pattern of neural response to reward associated with the development and treatment of depression during adolescence.

Continuing Education Credit:  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine designates this educational activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM.  Each physician should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.  Other health care professionals are awarded .15 continuing education units (CEUs), which are equal to 1.5 contact hours.  In accordance with Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education requirements on disclosure, information about relationships of presenters with commercial interests (if any) will be included in materials which will be distributed at the time of the conference.  WPIC is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education for psychologists.  WPIC maintains responsibility for this program and its contents.  This program is being offered for 1.5 continuing education credits.

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