Fabrice Jollant

Fabrice Jollant

MD, PhD, has studied medicine in Paris (France)


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Toward a comprehensive model of suicidal behavior: can cognitive neuroscience make the link between psychology and biology?

More than 800,000 people die from suicide each year in the world and 10 to 20 times more people attempt suicide. Fifty years of research have shed light on important risk factors of suicidal acts. These factors notably include mental disorders (mood disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenia, personality disorders, among others), recent negative life events (marital discord, interpersonal problems, grief, etc.), a personal history of suicidal acts, and childhood maltreatment. Unfortunately, these factors lack specificity and predictive power. Over the last years, tools of cognitive neuroscience (neuropsychology, neuroimaging) have been used to study suicidal behavior, making the link between social, psychological, clinical and biological levels of understanding. In this talk, I will focus on four cognitive processes: decision-making, social perception, psychological pain regulation, and cognitive inhibition.

I will particularly discuss

  • i) how some of these processes may be cognitive traits (with genetic and developmental perspectives) while others accompany depression and other stressful states; 
  • ii) the link with biological processes previously reported in relation to suicide (serotonergic deficits, cortisol dysregulation); 
  • iii) the brain networks supporting these deficits including the prefrontal cortex and the subcortical structures; 
  • iv) the potential for therapeutic interventions targeting deficient cognitive processes for both during the suicidal crisis and regarding the vulnerability.
Short Bio

Fabrice Jollant, MD, PhD, has studied medicine in Paris (France) and psychiatry in Montpellier (France). He has been a fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (United Kingdom) during one year. After 5 years as a junior faculty at the University of Montpellier, he moved to Canada to be assistant professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal in the McGill Group for Suicide Studies. Since September 2017, he is full professor of psychiatry at Paris-Descartes University and at Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris. His research mostly focuses on suicide, including neurocognition, suicide among a small indigenous group, and more recently epidemiology and therapies.