Neural and cognitive processes in depression


  • Dr Jonathan Roiser

    University College London

Project summary

Depression is a debilitating illness and represents a major public health problem, with a heavy economic and social burden. Dr Roiser will use neurochemical, neuroimaging and behavioural techniques to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying depression, which his previous work suggests exist prior to the onset of symptoms and independent of medication effects. Dr Roiser aims to examine how abnormal processing of positive outcomes ('rewards') and negative outcomes (‘punishments’) contributes to particular depressive symptoms, whether this processing is also abnormal before and after an episode of depression, and how it is affected by levels of the brain chemical dopamine. His long-term goal is to provide a testable neuroscientific account of the brain mechanisms underlying depression. In the long term this approach has the potential to improve patient outcomes by moving away from a descriptive level of diagnosis towards a mechanistic approach to classification and treatment.