Emotions, the Brain and the Body: The science connecting health and the emotions

Co-presented with Arts and Health Australia, the Brain and Mind Institute and the Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney

Professor Esther M Sternberg MD and Professor Ian Hickie AM
14 October, 2010

Why you should listen

Watch the first part of the Slow TV recording below, or watch the full recording on the Slow TV website.

How do the emotions affect our physical and mental health? What is the science that shows how brain and body interact to make us sick or well? Two of the world’s leading researchers exposed and explored the pathways within the brain through which our emotions connect with our bodies. Professor Sternberg presented the results of her decades of research showing how nerves, molecules, and hormones connect the brain and immune system, how the immune system signals the brain and affects our emotions, and how our brain can signal the immune system, making us more vulnerable to illnesses. She illustrated how these links work and discussed what the implications can be for treatable and chronic diseases. Professor Hickie discussed studies conducted by the Brain and Mind Research Institute that indicate the role the emotions play in the developing adolescent brain and identify, which factors are likely to lead to serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, and the ways in which early interventions might be used to prevent and treat these diseases.

Professor Sternberg and Professor Hickie concluded with a conversation and open forum about the science connecting the emotions, the brain and the body.

Esther M Sternberg, MD is Chief of the Section on Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health, Director of the Integrative Neural Immune Program, NIMH/NIH and Co-Chair of the NIH Intramural Program on Research in Women's Health in the USA. She is internationally recognized for her discoveries in brain- immune interactions and the brain's stress response in diseases including arthritis: the science of the mind-body interaction. She publishes numerous original scientific articles, reviews and textbook chapters in leading scientific journals and has authored two popular books: The Balance Within: The science connecting health and emotions and Healing Spaces: the science of place and well-being.

For those who attended the lecture and were not able to purchase Sternberg's books, they are available at local bookshops, including Gleebooks. Click here to order online

Professor Ian Hickie is Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Sydney and an NHMRC Australian Medical Research Fellow. He is a member of the Foundation Executive Committee of Headspace: the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and is a member of the Australian National Advisory Council on Drugs. In July 2008 Professor Hickie was appointed to the Federal Health’s Minister’s new National Advisory Council on Mental Health. His research integrates clinical and neurobiological research with health service reform and his clinical and health services development work focuses on expansion of population-based mental health research and development of international mental health strategies.