The 2023 winners of the Sloan-Menninger-Shevrin Prizes are Cristina Alberini (established researcher) and Jessica Tran The (emerging researcher). The 2023 prizes were made possible thanks to gracious gifts from Mr Bob Berry and Mrs Aliza Shevrin.
Cristina Alberini is currently Julius Silver, Roslyn S. Silver & Enid Silver Winslow Professor of Neuroscience at the Center for Neural Science, New York University. Alberini received her PhD in Immunological Sciences from the University of Genoa (Italy), and then trained in neurobiology as a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University with Eric Kandel. From 1997-2000 she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University and then Associate and Full Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York from 2001 to 2011. In 2011 she joined the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Alberini trained as a psychoanalyst at NPAP in New York starting in 2002 and became licensed in the state of NY in 2012. Alberini’s research is focusing on elucidating the molecular and brain plasticity mechanisms underlying long-term memory formation and retrieval using rodent models. Her studies target different ages of the lifespan with particular attention to the understanding of the temporal window during which memories are fragile and therefore can be strengthened or weakened. Two of these temporal windows are called consolidation and reconsolidation, which, respectively, take place after learning and memory recalls. Understanding the features of these processes and their underline mechanisms is key for understanding how memories are laid out, change with new experience, and influence new behavior throughout life. Elucidating mechanisms of memory consolidation and reconsolidation also informs about when it is possible and optimal to employ certain interventions for therapeutic purposes. Alberini’s studies on memory processes have been of interest in psychoanalysis because the goal of the therapeutic process is to help the subject to become aware (or conscious) of the underlying sources of his or her unconscious behavior, both intellectually and emotionally, by re-experiencing them and by redirecting the emotions toward the analyst and then reprocessing them in a new mode. Thus, remembering and elaborating memories in the new analytic setting, via processes of new learning, consolidation and in certain cases reconsolidation, is a key component of the psychoanalytic process, whether used to learn about the mind and its functioning or to alleviate disturbances in therapeutic processes. A more recent research focus for Alberini, which has sparked from her psychoanalytic training, is the understanding of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory in infancy. Her hypothesis is that the unconscious forms through early developmental experiences, which biologically and structurally shape the developing brain. Her work has shown, in fact, that early life experiences, despite being rapidly apparently forgotten, result in persistent biological maturation of the brain through specialized modifications that stored memories up to adulthood and guide adult behavior. These special biological changes taking place through in early life learning occur within a critical period, which guide the development of the abilities to learn and remember. The results of Alberini’s lab studies also provide information for developing potential therapeutics against cognitive impairments and psychopathologies. Alberini received the Hirschl-Weill Career Scientist Award, NARSAD Independent Investigator Award, Golgi Medal, Athena Award, NIH MERIT Award, the 2018 Jacob K. Javits NYU Award, NYU Silver professorship, and was elected in 2022 Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
JESSICA TRAN THE
Jessica Tran The is a clinical psychologist, lecturer at the University of Caen in the Unité Inserm 1077 “Neuropsychologie et neuroimagerie de la mémoire humaine” (Neuropsychology and neuroimaging of human memory). After studying psychology at the University of Paris 7, and philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris, she completed her thesis under a joint supervision coordinated between the Centre de Recherches Psychanalyse, Médecine et Société (Paris Cité) and the Faculty of Biology and Medicine of the University of Lausanne, under the direction of professors François Ansermet and Alain Vanier. Jessica Tran The continued her postdoctoral research at the Agalma Foundation in Geneva, where she is currently an associate researcher. Her fields of study focus on the dialogue between psychoanalysis and neuroscience from both an epistemological and a clinical perspective, with particular attention to the applications of this dialogue in the psychopathology of psychosis. Jessica Tran The combines this theoretical work with her clinician practice in adult psychiatry. Within the Unité Inserm 1077, she is currently working on the “November 13” programme, studying the impact of the 2015 attacks in Paris on individual and collective memory.