Professor David Linden

1) Biomarkers for mental disorders

Mental disorders are defined at the level of phenotypes/ clinical presentation but relatively little is known about the underlying biological mechanisms. At the same time, there is a huge interest in biomarkers of mental disorders such as schizophrenia to improve diagnosis and treatment monitoring. We aim to identify such biomarkers by combining the tools of cognitive neuroscience (behavioural paradigms, functional imaging, non-invasive electrophysiology) with molecular genetics, for example using the genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies. This research programme is embedded in the activities of the University's Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI). We also collaborate with the Schizophrenia Research Groups at the Dept. of Psychiatry, Frankfurt University Medical School and at Erasmus Medical College, Rotterdam.

2) Neurobiology of cognition/emotion interactions

Our cognitive performance is greatly influenced by the emotional salience of the processed material and our motivational states. We investigate such emotion-cognition interactions in the domain of visual working memory, focusing on threat-cues such as angry faces. We combine behavioural and imaging techniques with molecular genetics, pharmacology and patient studies (e.g. in Parkinson's disease). This research is funded by a BBSRC grant in conjunction with Bangor University (Prof Jane Raymond, Dr John Hindle, Dr Margaret Jackson).

3) Social cognitive neuroscience

Humans are prototypically social animals. One aspect of our social fabric is that we constantly compare ourselves with other conspecifics. We investigate the neural mechanisms and consequences of such comparisons on judgements and decision making with behavioural, imaging and genetic methods. This research is funded by a bilateral ESRC/DFG grant in conjunction with Cologne University (Prof Thomas Mussweiler, Dr Gayannee Kedia). Local collaborator is Dr Niklas Ihssen. We also collaborate with the Social Cognition and Affective Neuroscience group at the Dept. of Psychiatry of the Charite Medical School, Berlin (Dr Ullrich Wagner, Prof Henrik Walter).

4) Clinical applications of functional imaging

We develop protocols for the clinical application of real-time fMRI. Through this method patients can be trained in the self-regulation of brain networks, which may help overcome dysfunctional or impaired physiological processes. We are piloting this technique in affective disorders, movement disorders and addiction. This work is partly funded by a NIHSCR PhD studentship to Isabelle Habes. We collaborate with Maastricht University (Prof Rainer Goebel, Dr Bettina Sorger) and Bangor University (Prof Miles Cox).