Sylvie Berthoz PhD Neuroscience

Course and current status

Education Background 

-       Dec.2011 : Habilitation Thesis to Supervise Research (HDR), Paris-Sud University, France.

-       2000-2001 : Post-Doctoral Fellow, Supervisors : Pr U. Frith & Dr R.J.R Blair, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Disorders Group, University College London, London, UK 

-       1996-1999: PhD in Neuroscience (First Class Honours), Supervisors : Pr R. Jouvent & Pr S.M. Consoli, Pierre & Marie Curie University, Paris, France.

-       1995-1996 : Master Degree in Neuroscience (Magma Cum Laude), Supervisors : Pr G. Chapouthier, Pierre & Marie Curie University, Paris, France. 

-       1990-1995 : Training in Clinical Psychology, Ecole des Psychologues Praticiens (Master Degree : Magma Cum Laude), Paris, France.


Research Position

Permanent Senior Researcher at the French National Institute of Health & Medical Research (INSERM) since December 2008. 

Current position: 1) the Aquitaine Institute of Cognitive & Integrative Neuroscience (INCIA), Team Neuroimaging & Human Cognition, Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France ; & 2) Department of Psychiatry for Adolescents & Young Adults, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris (IMM), Paris, France.

Past position: CESP-Inserm U1178, Maison des Adolescents, Paris, France.

Scientific summary

My main aims are to better characterize vulnerability and/or maintaining factors for over/under-controlled behaviors and internalizing/externalizing mental health problems and to propose targeted prevention and intervention programs. I have a specific interest in the mechanisms responsible for ‘self-control’, i.e the ability to cope with environmental demands.  It is known now, as first evidenced in rodents, that epigenetic processes mediate the programming of behavior by early life experiences: the so-called ‘soft inheritance’ mechanism. Advances in this field of research also suggest that self-control is ensured by subtle dynamic bio-psycho-social homeostasic reactions, and that several psychiatric disorders share common processes pertaining to emotional and cognitive regulatory dysfunctions. Diagnoses informed by intermediate markers of brain dysfunction - and not only on the basis of overt phenotypes or syndromic behaviors – may account for these commonalties.

These notions are embedded in my working hypothesis, i.e that the environment and elemental components of cognitive and emotional control interact to produce different developmental trajectories of motivated behavior.

I envisage biodevelopmental susceptibility using both macroscopic and microscopic approaches. Accordingly, I use a multi-level and diachronic approach and conduct cross-syndrome comparisons. I do so by considering notably 1) At the environmental level, that there are different but interacting and interdependent spheres of influence and sources of adversity (economic, familial, nutritional…); 2) And at the individual level, that cognitive and affective processes are implemented by overlapping neural networks and are continuously interacting through complex affective-learning mechanisms to ensure self-control.

I further adapt and/or develop targeted intervention programs that stem from this articulation of the research methods from developmental epidemiology, clinical epidemiology and cognitive-affective neuroscience. 

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