Neural Circuits of Stigma: Fixed or Flexible

Older persons are subject to stigmatizing attitudes held by the public and even health professionals. At the same time, they themselves hold stigmatzing attitudes towards younger persons as well as their peers. Stigma is considered to be the biggest obstacle to seeking mental healthcare and to providing support for persons with behavioral anomalies that do not match with an individual’s idea of what is “normal behavior”. In many cases, self stigma contributes to the neglect of one’s own mental health issues. This project seeks to explore the neurobiological substrates of stigma with the aim of aiding the development of evidence-based anti-stigma actions. In particular, we are interested in whether individual’s stigmatizing attitudes are permanent traits or whether negative biases are flexible in terms of brain activity, structure and/or connectomics. Our work, done in the framework of global mental health, specifically aims to address the UN’s Sustainability Development Goal 4 (Good Health & Wellbeing). It applies analytical tools from neuropsychology, socioeconomic-cultural sciences, neuroimaging and electroencephalography (EEG) to study differently aged cohorts in Portugal and Mozambique.

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Main Project Outcomes

S. Queirós, “Right ventricular segmentation in multi-view cardiac MRI using a unified U-net model”, in E. Puyol Antón et al. (eds) Statistical Atlases and Computational Models of the Heart. Multi-Disease, Multi-View, and Multi-Center Right Ventricular Segmentation in Cardiac MRI Challenge. STACOM 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 13131, pp. 287-295, Springer, Cham, 2022.

“Best Paper Award in the M&Ms-2 Challenge”, by M&Ms2 Challenge organizers and the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) Society.

Main Project Outcomes

Almeida OFX and Sousa N (2022) Leveraging Neuroscience to Fight Stigma Around Mental Health. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 15:812184. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2021.812184