The team is currently undertaking research projects in the following three areas.
Within our neuropsychopharmacology team we are looking at novel options for treatment for patients with psychiatric disorders. Moreover, studies currently underway have a focus on predicting response to psychopharmacological treatments (such as antidepressants).
In addition, the influence of dietary factors on neurotransmitters and brain function is a topic of particular interest. Dietary components such as amino acids are needed for the human body to develop neurotransmitters that allow signalling between brain cells. Using different dietary strategies this group developed methods to change the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in young people.
Examples of this are new acute tryptophan depletion, acute phenylalanine-tyrosine depletion and combined monoamine depletion protocols. These methods can be combined with behavioural assessments, such as go/no-go tasks to study impulsivity and other research methods like neuroimaging techniques to study brain areas affected by the neurotransmitter in focus. This allows a translational research approach to study relevant neurocircuitries in patients with psychiatric disorders.
Within our neurophysiology team we are looking at neurophysiological aspects of brain function in patients with psychiatric disorders. An example for such an approach is neurofeedback, which is a new way of treatment for ADHD and other neuropsychiatric disorders. Neurofeedback is a physiological method that can allow a subject to learn to regulate his or her own brain activity, and which can be conducted in an EEG or an fMRI environment. Studies have shown that the ability to regulate brain activity related to attention problems (such as so-called slow cortical potentials, or SCPs) can have a beneficial therapeutic effect in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Members of the department have a particular interest in the development of new EEG-neurofeedback related training protocols, and are also part of a large research project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology to develop more user-friendly neurofeedback devices.
Within our developmental psychopathology team we are looking at various aspects of neuropsychiatric disorders (such as psychological, biological and social factors), and how these relate to development of young people. Clinical areas of interest are given below.
Pathophysiology and neurobiology of eating disorders. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are strongly influenced by biological factors. At the Centre and Discipline of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry we have a particular interest in the hormone leptin and how it impacts the physiological regulation of satiety and hunger.
Aspects of emotional regulation in patients with ADHD. Changes in the ability to regulate emotions and feelings are known for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Members of our group aim to study different factors involved in emotion regulation, and how these related to different patient subgroups.
The neurobiological and psychological mechanisms involved in aggressive and impulsive behaviours are of particular interest. Members of the department are part of the large so-called FemNAT-CD research project funded by the European Union (EU), which receives funding close to €6 million.
Team members are working on research projects related to different aspects of Gender Diversity, with a focus on medical, psychological and social needs.