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Marisa Silveri, Ph.D.

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SW: What impact would you say your work has on people's day-to-day lives?

MS: At present, my work, and that of many colleagues conducting research in my area, has had its biggest impact through providing patient education and community outreach – locally, regionally, and nationally – to audiences that include teachers, guidance and adjustment counselors, psychologists, nurses, parents, and students.

My presentations focus on neuroimaging research on the maturation of the adolescent brain and the consequences of quote2early alcohol and drug use. Dissemination through community outreach has been a successful means of increasing public awareness about the vulnerability of the adolescent brain, as a prevention effort to discourage alcohol and drug use during adolescence, but also, to educate the public on the importance of early identification of clinical and behavioral indicators of psychiatric illness in adolescents.

SW: What would you like to see happen with addiction research?

MS: At present, we can collect an abundance of information about the brain using magnetic resonance techniques, from brain structure, to brain function, to brain chemistry and more. Through the integration of data collected using multiple imaging modalities, and integration of brain data with neuropsychological and clinical assessments, a significant step forward for the field of addiction research would be in the area of diagnosis.

quote3

The work currently being conducted in healthy adolescents is allowing for the understanding of normative brain development, so that we can begin to identify risk factors associated with the manifestations of addiction. It is the hope that one day these risk factors can be assessed on an individual basis, and perhaps become a routine assessment that begins in childhood. Given the rapid rewiring of the adolescent brain, it is possible that changes occurring in the second decade of life are so important that they will have an influence on long-term health and well-being of the mind that will last into the final decades of life. Thus, the future of addiction can have an increased focus on prevention.

SW: Any words of advice for future addiction researchers?

MS: Follow your passion, follow your hunches, and don't give up no matter how challenging it may seem; you will make a difference. If you can help one person live a better life, it will be well worth your efforts.

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