School Seminar Series - Dr Shaam Al Abed, Australian National University

Dr Shaam Al Abed, Australian National University

Stress in Autism: dynamic interneuron states and traumatic memory

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder leading to alterations in communication, social interactions, and repetitive movements. Patients present with difficulties in coping with stress, which have been considered as secondary, compared to the core symptoms. Our work highlights a drastic, unexpected impact of stress on cognition, which aggravates the ASD symptomatology. I will discuss evidence demonstrating the vulnerability to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in autism, the underlying cellular mechanisms, and will present a promising pharmacological intervention to prevent the deleterious effect of traumatic memory in autism.

Speaker Biography

Shaam is a postdoctoral researcher within the Eccles institute of Neuroscience and a NECTAR Co-Chair. Her research primarily addresses the mechanisms underlying memory formation, from psychology to synapses, in health and disease. In 2013, she earned a PhD from the University of Bordeaux, France, in which she investigated the mechanisms underlying the degradation of cognition with age and in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2018, she joined Dr Nathalie Dehorter’s group to study how interneurons shape the development of functional neuronal circuits related to memory processing, and how defects in these cells underlie neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.