Our research is aimed at enhancing our understanding of psychiatric and cognitive disorders by investigating underlying mechanisms. Our ultimate goal is to reduce disease burden and improve prognosis of patients suffering from psychological and cognitive disorders.

Cognitive and psychiatric disorders  have overlapping disease mechanisms. Therefore, within our research programme we do not limit ourselves to specific syndromes, but our study designs are explicitly transdiagnostic and innovative. We focus on the entire life course, because psychological and cognitive disorders often show age-related patterns of vulnerability and can be long lasting.

In our studies, we focus on cognition and social cognition, as an end in itself or as possible underlying mechanisms of psychopathology. We perform our research by using innovative research methods, such as virtual reality, ecological momentary assessment, and advanced neuroimaging.

We study

  • 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, we focus on prevention, early intervention and tertiary treatment.

With our studies, we emphasize the continuity over the life course through the cooperation between experts specialized in research in different phases of life. Only through this collaboration, we will be able to develop effective, personalized prevention and early interventions programs.

Our approach includes

  • the development of early detection programmes,

  • study of interventions at early stages of psychiatric disorders,

  • study of interventions in children of parents with psychiatric disorders,

  • optimizing brain stimulation treatments, so efficacy is increased and more patients can benefit,

  • relapse prevention.


 

  • 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 programme will focus in particular on the theme Brain & Cognition (formerly Ageing 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 elderly. We distinguish 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 programmes, depending on the subject of specific research projects that they are engaged in.