Cognitive Neuroscience in Developmental Psychiatry (Deserno) 

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Cognitive Neuroscience in Developmental Psychiatry

We investigate how young individuals learn and make decisions and how this is linked to the function and structure of their brains. On the one hand, we aim to understand the motivation underlying approach and avoidance behaviors and how they can lead to rigid and psychopathological behavioral patterns. On the other hand, we are interested in understanding flexible and goal-directed cognitive control that enables behavioral change. Our research aims to identify neurocognitive developmental trajectories to understand the transdiagnostic emergence of impulsive and compulsive symptoms. Exemplary diagnostic entities in developmental psychiatry are ADHD, substance abuse, excessive and restrictive eating disorders and anxious-compulsive disorders. We are particularly interested in dissociating common and distinct neurocognitive processes underlying these symptom dimensions. Empirical and theoretical insights on the role of the neuromodulator dopamine in learning play a central role in our research. The long-term goal of our work is to test the clinical applicability of cognitive and computational neuroscience methods, for example by trying to understand the heterogeneity in treatment responses of our patients to established psychopharmacological agents.

Our research methods range from questionnaires, behavioral experiments (in the lab, online and on the smartphone) to neural measures (functional und structural MRI, EEG, PET) as well as pharmacological manipulations. We use computational models of learning and decision-making (‘reinforcement learning’) for a detailed understanding of neurocognitive processes and to inform the analysis of neural data (‘computational neuroimaging’). These methods are part of the larger agenda of ‘Computational Psychiatry’.

 

Find our publications on GoogleScholar

 

Our research is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) und the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). We are part of the Collaborative Research Centre TRR 265: Losing and Regaining Control over Drug Intake (Charité Berlin, TU Dresden, ZI Mannheim).

© 2020 by Philip Tovote

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last update: 10/12/2020