Affective disorders typically have their onset in adolescence or young adulthood and often take a persisting or recurring course with considerable impact on functioning. It is well established that affective disorders result from complex vulnerability and risk factor constellations including family-genetic, individual (neurobiological, cognitive-emotional, behavioural), and environmental factors. Affective disorders often evolve from unspecific symptoms or preceding conditions such as anxiety disorders, ADHD and impulsivity, or substance misuse. There is also some evidence that immune biomarkers predict the development of affective disorders in children and adolescents. The exact underlying mechanisms of symptom development and progression, however, remain far from conclusive and there are currently no transdiagnostic models describing symptom development and outcome throughout adolescence and early adulthood. Transdiagnostic models of symptom development will not only inform our understanding of disorder mechanisms but might also be helpful to further improve prediction of symptom progression which in turn could help to guide early interventions. In order to establish these models, we plan to apply multivariate analysis techniques allowing to combine fMRI measures, cognitive/behavioural metrics, psychopathology assessments, and immune/genetic biomarkers into one analysis. Specific aims are (i) to identify links between psychopathological symptom clusters, patterns of functional dysconnectivity, and cognition first cross-sectionally and in a later step longitudinally; (ii) to investigate associations of structural and functional properties of the brain in early affective disorders and in subclinical populations; and (iii) to research the influence of environmental/ life style factors, immune, and genetic biomarkers on trajectories of brain development throughout adolescence.
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- Barnes J, Mondelli V, Pariante CM. Genetic contributions of inflammation to depression. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(1):81-98.4.
Skills/qualities required especially for this project:
- Interest in working interdisciplinary across the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and medicine
- Experience with neuroimaging data analysis; programming skills are favorable (Matlab, python, R, STATA)
- Interest in learning assessment techniques, comfortable to interact with people
- German and English language proficiency