Miriam Melis of the University of Cagliari in Italy will present a lecture entitled: Weeding child psychopathology out.
Abstract: With the expanding recreational cannabis legalization and permissive sociocultural attitudes worldwide and given that the use of cannabis among pregnant women is on a sharp rise, concern increases regarding the long-term negative impact on next generation health (i.e., pediatric concern). According to epidemiological data, prenatal cannabis exposure (PCE) is a predictive factor for deficits in sensory information processing (SIP), a neutral cross-disorder trait. Such deficits in children are transitory phenomena, which may lead to clinically relevant symptoms when they persist, thereby evolving into mental illness. Of note, common and severe mental disorders are associated with abnormal SIP in preadolescence, especially in males. Thus, understanding the mechanisms underlying interindividual variability in sensitivity and responsiveness to environmental stimuli is imperative. Since in humans the determination of causality is very difficult to establish, we developed an animal model of PCE, which offers a sex bias in the mechanisms regulating the selection of relevant environmental stimuli. Advancing our mechanistic inferences will enable precision medicine approaches to intervene before the cross-disorder trait evolves into mental illness, particularly in PCE children.