The CCNP research programme is aimed at gaining more insight into psychiatric and cognitive disorders by investigating underlying mechanisms. The overall aim is to reduce disease burden and improve the prognosis of patients suffering from psychological and cognitive disorders.

Cognitive and psychiatric disorders have overlapping disease mechanisms. Therefore, the CCNP research programme does not only focus on specific syndromes but also develops transdiagnostic and innovative study designs. The CCNP research covers all stages in life because psychological and cognitive disorders often show age-related patterns of vulnerability and can be long-lasting.

The research focuses on cognition and social cognition, as a primary end point or as potential underlying mechanisms of psychopathology. The research programme makes use of innovative research methods, such as virtual reality, ecological momentary assessment, and advanced neuroimaging.

The research topics include:

  • Design and implementation of innovative, randomized clinical trials and clinical cohort studies;
  • Pathophysiological and psychosocial mechanisms;
  • Risk factors and protective factors.
Relevance

Better treatments for patients with psychiatric disorders

To develop more effective, personalized treatments for the various stages of psychiatric disorders, the focus is on prevention, early intervention, and tertiary treatment.

In the CCNP research programme, experts specialized in research on different stages in life collaborate. Therefore, it is possible to develop effective, personalized prevention and early intervention programmes.

The CCNP approach includes:

  • Developing early detection programmes;
  • Studying interventions at early stages of psychiatric disorders;
  • Studying interventions in children of parents with psychiatric disorders;
  • Optimizing brain stimulation treatments to increase efficacy and the number of patients who may benefit;
  • Relapse prevention.
  • The CCNP programme intends to systematically apply clinical staging and profiling in clinical trials and cohort studies, as well as in daily patient care. Good integration of research/monitoring modules in the Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD) is essential to achieve this. The clinical studies also focus on innovative methods of diagnosis and treatment, such as ecological momentary assessment (EMA), Virtual Reality (VR), and the further development of a diagnostic laboratory for patients (iLab).

  • Researchers combine research on the effectiveness with research on the underlying mechanisms. This research, therefore, includes genetics and imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG, as well as psychophysiological measures such as pupil dilation deconvolution, ECG, and blood/CSF biomarkers, which are also studied in the healthy population. The resulting indicators are used to predict the response to interventions. Collaborations with statisticians take place to adopt data-driven approaches.

  • The CCNP research programme focuses on both psychotherapeutic and cognitive interventions, as well as on biologically targeted interventions such as:

    • New medication strategies, psychedelics, and anti-inflammatory drugs;
    • Neuromodulation, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS), Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS), Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

    The CCNP research also focuses on combination treatments, such as psychotherapeutic treatments supported by EMA or Virtual Reality.

  • Collaborations take place with various departments and disciplines, including general practice medicine, nuclear medicine, neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, pharmacology, clinical chemistry, genetics, and statistics.

    Collaborations are also being set up with other faculties at the University of Groningen, including the centre of expertise Healthwise, the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, the departments of Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, and Applied Linguistics, and Health Economics (a subfield of Economics).

    The research conducted in the new programme will focus on the theme Brain & Cognition (previously: the Ageing Brain) and the interfaculty Research School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences (BCN).

    The CCNP research group is multidisciplinary with a strong clinical signature that focuses on applications relevant to clinical care for children, adults, and the elderly. In contrast to the Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (ICPE), the CCNP research group uses a more clinical and transdiagnostic approach. Some researchers may be affiliated with both programmes, depending on the subject of the research projects that they participate in.