Dr Xavier Caseras
Senior Lecturer, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
My main research interest is in vulnerability and resilience to mental disorders. I am particularly interested in investigating the factors that might predispose some people to develop affective and anxiety disorders as well as the factors that might protect at risk populations from developing these disorders. Among those predisposing/protecting factors my research mainly deals with emotion processing and regulation, brain functional and structural neuroanatomy and genetic makeup.
My research aims to investigate how learning and emotion processing and regulation might predispose some people to suffer from mental disorders or make others resilient to the same conditions. My research focuses mainly on anxiety and affective disorders and uses functional and structural neuroimaging, psychophysiological (mainly startle reflex) and neuropsychological techniques. We conduct our research in healthy participants in order to better understand basic processes associated with learning and emotion processing and regulation that might be associated with mental illnesses, in clinical populations in order to investigate what makes them different from healthy controls and therefore is potentially associated whit their psychiatric condition, and in at risk populations (eg. young people with specific personality traits associated with vulnerability to anxiety, or first degree relatives of psychiatric patients and therefore at a major genetic risk for the disorder) in order to explore potential vulnerability, but also resilience, factors.
I am also interested in investigating how genetic factors are expressed in the brain and in cognitive/affective processes. To this aim I investigate for example how participants carrying different allelic variations differ in their brain functional responses or in their ability to process or regulate emotions. My research mainly focus on those genes that have shown association with anxiety disorders, depression or bipolar disorder.