Project area or title
Computational Approaches to Improve Stratification of Individuals at Clinical High-Risk for Psychosis Using Inflammatory and Neurobiological Profiles
Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, affect over 3% of the population and cost the UK economy £12billion per year. Increasing lines of evidence suggests that immune dysfunction may be causally linked to psychiatric disorders, including young people at a clinical high-risk (CHR) of mental health conditions such as psychosis. The effect of ‘peripheral’ inflammatory responses, such as elevated interleukin-6 (IL-6) and related cytokines in the blood, have been associated with specific symptoms seen across psychotic disorders including cognitive dysfunction (e.g. attention, working memory) and negative symptoms (e.g. anhedonia, avolition). Yet, few studies have explored the associations between inflammatory markers and negative symptoms in CHR individuals. Increased peripheral cytokines have also been associated with grey matter volume loss in CHR populations, with studies supplementing clinical ratings with structural neuroimaging (measured using MRI) shown to improve predictive accuracy for functional outcomes in CHR individuals. Studies using computational modeling of neurophysiological data using electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) have revealed aberrant excitatory-inhibitory synaptic processes within frontal and temporal brain regions associated with psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia.
This project will use multivariate (i.e. multiple assessment domains/levels of analysis) data-driven computational modeling approaches of neurobiological outcomes (MRI, EEG, MEG) to improve predictive insight in to immune-active CHR young people, and better understand how immune markers such as IL-6 are related to brain structure and function. This project will benefit from extensive clinical and neuroimaging expertise as part of the supervisory team, with the main objectives leveraged by established national/international networks of early psychosis research and neuroimmunology.
Severe Mental Health (covering psychosis, forensic)
University of Birmingham