Clinical Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Research Program (CCNP)

Scientific explanation of disturbances in cognition and social cognition, as an end in itself or as possible underlying mechanisms of psychopathology are central in our research. We aim to improve the prognosis of patients and reduce the very considerable burden of disease due to psychological and cognitive disorders.

We will develope more effective, personalized treatments for psychiatric disorders that tie in with the various stages of development of these disorders. We look at all the different aspects from prevention and early intervention to tertiary treatment.

Such an approach requires knowledge about:

  • risk factors and protective factors
  • pathophysiological and psychosocial mechanisms
  • design and implementation of Randomized Clinical Trials and clinical cohort studies
  • innovative research methods, including neuroimaging, virtual reality, Ecological Momentary Assessment, and various (other) types of biomarkers.
Because cognitive and psychiatric disorders strongly overlap with possible disease mechanisms, the program is not limited to specific diagnoses; our design is explicitly transdiagnostic. In line with the long-term course of mental disorders and age-related patterns of vulnerability, we choose the entire life course as our perspective.

Life course perspective

At present, most expertise of adult and elderly psychiatry researchers lies in psychotic disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and in children and adolescents in the field of developmental and tic disorders. We emphasize overlap and continuity over the life course, and cooperation between researchers who specialize in research in different life phases.​

Our research aimed at prevention and early intervention includes the development of early detection programs, effect research of interventions at early stages of psychiatric disorders, relapse prevention and research into interventions in children of parents with psychiatric disorders.

  • We are working on systematically applying clinical staging and profiling in clinical trials and cohort studies, but also in daily patient care. A good integration of research / monitoring modules in the electronic patient dossier (EPD) is a basic condition for this. Innovative methods of diagnosis and treatment are also being investigated in clinical studies, such as Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), Virtual Reality (VR) and the further development of a diagnostic lab for patients (iLab).

  • Researchers link research into effectiveness to research into underlying mechanisms (genetics and imaging techniques such as fMRI, EEG and psycho-physiological measures such as pupil dilatation deconvolution, ECG, blood / CSF biomarkers) which are also studied in the healthy population. The resulting indicators are used to predict the response to interventions. We also collaborate with statisticians for more data-driven approaches.

  • We focus on both psychotherapeutic or cognitive interventions, as well as biologically targeted interventions such as

    • new medication strategies , psychedelics, anti-inflammatory drugs
    • and neuromodulation, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation rTMS, tACS, tDCS and Deep Brain Stimulation DBS.

    We also conduct research into combination treatments, such as psychotherapeutic treatments supported by EMA or Virtual Reality.

  • We collaborate with various departments and disciplines: Family medicine, nuclear medicine, neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, pharmacology, clinical chemistry, genetics and statistics.

    We also set up collaborations with other faculties of the RUG, including via Healthwise, Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, Faculty of Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Applied Linguistics and Health Economics.

    The research of the new program will focus in particular on the theme Brain & Cognition (formerly Aging Brain) and the interfaculty research school BCN.

    Our research group is multidisciplinary and has a strong clinical signature with an emphasis on applications relevant to practice in children, adults and the elderly. We  distinguishes ourselves from the Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (ICPE) by the more clinical and transdiagnostic approach. A number of researchers may be affiliated with both programs, depending on the subject of specific research projects that they are engaged in.