Neural Basis of Emotion Regulation of relevance to our understanding of the aetiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
Project ID: NMH23
Supervisor: Prof. Angela Roberts
Psychiatric disorders such as depression are poorly treated and even when treatments are effective we don't know why, and thus cannot target therapies effectively. To address these issues we need a better basic understanding of the brain circuitries involved in emotion and its regulation. Whilst the subcortical mechanisms underlying the generation and expression of positive and negative emotions are relatively well described, their regulation by higher-order cortical brain regions, in particular the prefrontal cortex, is not. This project will determine how distinct regions of prefrontal cortex contribute differentially to the regulation of both positive and negative emotions. Focal, temporary manipulations will be investigated on various aspects of the emotional response, both behavioural and autonomic, and the efficacy of a range of current therapies at reversing the effects investigated, including SSRI’s, SNRI’s, dopamine agonists and glutamatergic agents. In addition, the effects of such manipulations on circuit activity will be investigated using PET imaging and in vivo microdialysis. Together, findings from this research will contribute to the better stratification of mood and anxiety disorders and help the individual targeting of treatment
This research project has a strong translational component. It is focusing on specific symptoms of depression including anhedonia, the loss of pleasure and anxiety. It aims to determine which of the array of functional changes described in imaging studies of patients suffering from depression may underlie the different symptoms and how current therapies may act to have their efficacious effects. Professor Roberts is on the executive committee of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and interacts with psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and neurologists on a regular basis including Professors Ed Bullmore, Barbara Sahakian and James Rowe. Through these interactions opportunities are always being looked for to translate experimental findings from basic research into the clinic and for clinical findings to inform the experimental model. Students are also encouraged to attend sessions organized by the clinical school in which researchers and patients can come together and discuss important issues.