The growing gap between biological and environmental evolution presents a unique opportunity for exploring the human brain, its strengths, and vulnerabilities in an interactive and stimulating way. To really understand substance use disorders (and begin to increase resiliency and understand how to prevent them) we must first understand the brain, especially the evolutionary constraints that have shaped its fundamental structures and functions. This presentation has been developed and repeatedly tested with different audiences by the presenter as a friendly yet rigorous science-based prevention tool. The presentation builds on the growing neuroscientific understanding of human behavior to explain the intrinsic vulnerabilities that emerge from the interaction between biological and environmental factors, the impact that drugs of abuse have on brain circuitry and behavior, and opportunities to engage in primary and secondary prevention of substance use disorder.
- Participants will understand the properties that make the brain a robust, yet fragile organ, and the influence of substances on the properties of the brain.
- Participants will develop an initial understanding of the neuroscience of addiction, including the impact of drugs on the reward circuits, addiction as a brain disease, inter-individual differences, and the increased vulnerability of the brain during adolescence, a particularly active developmental phase.
- Participants will be able to identify risks and protective factors, as well as evidence-based strategies to inject resilience (and support prevention) in the system.
About the Presenter
Dr. Ruben Baler received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from the University of Miami. As a postdoc he worked on the genetics of the biological clock at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH). In October 2004 he joined the National Institute on Drug Abuse as a Health Scientist. Dr. Baler has focused on writing about the neurobiology of addiction, presenting at community outreach events and teaching teens and parents about the brain and the consequences of substance use and other risky behaviors.
This webinar is part of a series on the current science of cannabis, for more information on the other webinars in the series view the series homepage.