Scanning the brain for transference

New York, NY -- A unique new study that aims to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in the brain when transference occurs is the subject of a symposium at the American Psychoanalytic Association's 2007 Winter Meeting. "Scanning the Brain for Transference: Using fMRI to Explore the Neurobiological Underpinnings of the Core of Psychoanalysis" will be held on Friday, January 19, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Members of the media are invited to attend.

Transference is a universal psychological phenomenon in which a person's relation to another person has elements which are based on or influenced by his earlier attachments, especially to early life figures. While transference, in particular its exploration with regard to the psychoanalyst, is a central concept in the psychoanalytic model of treatment, nothing is currently known about its neurological basis. This new study introduces a cognitive neuroscience approach for testing psychoanalytic hypotheses about transference and could someday help guide modifications to treatment interventions. It spans the fields of psychoanalysis, cognitive neuroscience, social psychology, and psychotherapy with a goal of providing greater inter-disciplinary knowledge.

Andrew Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., and Bradley S. Peterson, M.D., are co-principal investigators of the new study and Gerber will present the project goals and scientific plan at the APsaA symposium. Dr. Gerber is a post-doctoral research fellow in the division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, as well as a psychoanalytic candidate at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Dr. Peterson is Deputy Director of the Division of Child Psychiatry; Director Pediatric Neuropsychiatry Research; and Suzanne Crosby Murphy Professor in Pediatric Neuropsychiatry at Columbia University.

Dr. Gerber will be joined by discussants Glen Gabbard, M.D., the Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and Baylor College of Medicine Professor of Psychiatry, and Kevin Ochsner, Ph.D., a Columbia University Assistant Professor of Psychology.

For more information regarding the "Scanning the Brain for Transference" symposium or other scientific sessions at the American Psychoanalytic Association's Winter Meeting, please call 212-752-0450, ext. 21, or email [email protected]. Members of the media should direct their inquiries to Dottie Jeffries.


Founded in 1911, APsaA is a professional organization of psychoanalysts throughout the United States. The Association is composed of Affiliate Societies and Training Institutes in many cities and has approximately 3,500 individual members. APsaA is a Regional Association of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
    Published on All rights reserved.