James Russell
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA, USA

A Dimensional Representation of Emotion

Abstract: The heterogeneous set of events called emotion are often thought to divide into discrete categories, but the categories have been shown to have degrees of membership, fuzzy boundaries.  Scientific theories based on categories of emotion are not faring well.  Scientists have also used an alternative, dimensional representation of those events.  Here evidence is presented favoring that alternative.

Dr. James A. Russell is a professor of psychology at Boston College.  He is known for his proposal of a dimensional account of emotion as an alternative to the prevalent taxonomy of discrete basic emotions.  In this pursuit, he and his colleagues have studied self-reports of emotion, facial expressions of emotion, and emotion concepts, especially as they develop during childhood.  Rather than prefabricated, emotion episodes are constructed on the fly to suit immediate circumstances.  The episode consists of multiple components such as core affect (dimensions of valence and arousal), appraisals (dimensions of evaluation of current circumstances), attributions, and goals and plans for behavior – all potentially independent.  His current project is a joint effect to test in remote indigenous societies the claim that certain facial expressions universally signal the basic emotions (results so far go against that claim).

James Russell


Tanzeem Choudhury
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, USA

Abstract: TBD

Tanzeem Choudhury

Tom Insel
Mindstrong Health
Palo Alto, CA, USA

Digital Phenotyping: Can It Reduce Morbidity and Mortality?

Abstract: Digital technologies are being developed to address a broad range of health challenges.  Mental health challenges may seem particularly suited for a digital solution.  As mental disorders are experienced as behavioral or cognitive problems, digital phenotyping based on smartphone sensor data, keyboard performance, and voice/speech is especially promising for detecting and diagnosing anxiety, mood, or psychotic disorders.  In contrast to traditional assessments which are subjective, episodic, and clinic-based; digital phenotyping can deliver objective, continuous, and ecological assessments of behavior.  Because the assessment is passive and the technology is ubiquitous, there is understandable enthusiasm about this new approach to measuring behavior and cognition.  But will better measurement result in better outcomes?  We do not yet have the evidence to answer this question.  This lecture will explore the promise and problems of digital phenotyping, arguing that better measurement will be fundamental to better management of mental disorders and describing the studies necessary to prove the clinical value and ensure the public trust for this new technology.

Thomas R. lnsel, M.D., a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, is a co-founder and President of Mindstrong Health.  From 2002-2015, Dr. Insel served as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) committed to research on mental disorders. Prior to serving as NIMH Director, Dr. lnsel was Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University where he was founding director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience in Atlanta.  Most recently (2015 – 2017), he led the Mental Health Team at Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) in South San Francisco, CA.   Dr. Insel is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous national and international awards including honorary degrees in the U.S. and Europe. 

Tom Insel