The Brain, Poverty & Mental Health

Dr Michael Meaney and Dr Sonia Lupien discuss the impact and programs aimed at diminishing childhood stress.

The brain, especially the circuitry governing emotion, attention, self-control and stress, is shaped by a complex interplay of genes and early-childhood experiences.

Childhood adversity, of which poverty has been identified as a significant factor, can result in deficits leading to a range of mental-health issues that can diminish social, educational and employment opportunities.


  • Dr Michael Meaney, C.M., PhD, C.Q., FRSC
    Co-Director & Primary Investigator, Ludmer Centre
    Researcher & Laboratory Director, Douglas Mental Health University Institute
    James McGill Professor, Dep. of Psychiatry and Neurology & Neurosurgery, McGill University
    Director, Program for the Study of Behaviour, Genes & Environment, McGill University

    Dr Michael Meaney presents the neurobiology and epidemiology evidence demonstrating how early exposure to childhood adversity can become biologically embedded, effectively switching genes “on or off”.

  • Dr Sonia Lupien, Ph. D.
    Researcher, Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal
    Full professor, Department of psychiatry, University of Montreal
    Director, Centre d’études sur le stress humain

    Dr Sonia Lupien discusses how we secrete stress hormones when faced with (or anticipating) a situation that is either Novel, Unpredictable, Threatens-our ego, or lowers our Sense of control (NUTS). She then presents the DeStress for Success Program which educates and helps youth manage stress.