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Neuropsychiatric imaging

Brain scans

We investigate the effects of genes on brain structure and function and on behaviour, as well as their interaction with the environment.

Our work cuts across the Centre's three primary research themes of neurodegenerative disorders, developmental disorders and psychosis and major affective disorders.

Non-invasive neuroimaging enables us to explore brain anatomy and function in considerable detail using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG).

These techniques are available to us through the Cardiff University Brain Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), where we conduct imaging studies on patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, addiction, developmental disorders and dementia as well as healthy volunteers.

This work is highly collaborative, involving physicists and computer scientists as well as psychiatrists, neuroscientists and psychologists. 

The interaction with psychology is important to define behavioural effects, for example altered memory or decision making, that may be closely linked with particular genes but not normally part of the diagnostic criteria for a clinical phenotype ("endophenotypes").

We work closely with the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), through which we also support clinicians across Wales who have an interest in neuroimaging research. 

The group's work at CUBRIC also involves close collaboration with neurology and old-age medicine services across Wales, mainly in the areas of Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease and stroke.

Our research is highly translational in that we seek applications of genetic findings in clinical diagnosis and treatment and to compare effects of genetic variants with those of relevant pharmacological agents.

Neurofeedback

We are working on new clinical applications of functional neuroimaging, using neurofeedback to train patients to regulate their own brain activity. We are evaluating protocols to help treat depression and substance use disorders and we are currently developing neurofeedback tools to aid neurorehabilitation in conditions including Parkinson's disease.

We also lead the Braintrain project, a European consortium that develops neurofeedback tools and transfer technologies for mental and behavioural disorders.

Theme lead