Plasticity – the capacity for change – is increasingly recognized as an intrinsic property of the adult brain and may play important roles in the etiologies and treatments of neurological and psychiatric illnesses.
Neuropsychiatry recognizes that the brain and mind are one, that mental illnesses are disorders of the brain, and that psychiatric symptoms are commonly found in neurological disorders.
One important goal of neuropsychiatric research is to bridge the gap between neurology and psychiatry.
Among the main aims of our current research are:
- To increase our knowledge of the genetic architecture of brainstem and thalamus structures and their roles in neurological and psychiatric disorders
- To assess whether structural and functional brain plasticity are core characteristics of the human sleep-wake cycle
- To increase our under understanding of neurobiological mechanisms underlying the acute antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation
- To examine whether recently identified schizophrenia- and bipolar disorder-associated genetic variants affect synaptic function and neuronal excitability
Our research group is currently working on three main projects:
The genetic architecture of human brainstem and thalamic structures and their involvement in neurological and psychiatric disorders
Brainstem and thalamic regions are implicated in the pathophysiology of common brain disorders. However, the structure and genetic architecture of these regions remain understudied.
Using magnetic resonance imaging, we examine volumes of brainstem and thalamic structures in healthy individuals and participants with neurological or psychiatric disorders. We conduct genome wide association studies of these volumes in healthy individuals and assess the polygenic overlap with common brain disorders.
We also examine volumes of brainstem and thalamic structures in individuals with neurological and psychiatric disorders and compare these to volumes of healthy individuals.
Sleep-wake-dependent brain plasticity in health and depression
Sleep insufficiency is prevalent, impairs human functioning, and causes vast negative health effects and societal costs. Sleep disturbances are also common in individuals with neurological and psychiatric disorders.
In addition, one night of sleep deprivation has robust antidepressant effects in major depressive disorder, yet the majority of sleep deprivation-responders relapse after recovery sleep.
The overall goals of this project are A) to clarify whether structural and functional brain plasticity are characteristics of the human sleep-wake cycle and B) to reveal neurobiological mechanisms underlying the acute antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation and relapse of depressive symptoms after recovery sleep in major depressive disorder.
Genes, synaptic functiona and neuronal excitability in severe mental disorders
The clarification of central pathophysiological mechanisms, identification of patient subgroups with distinct neural abnormalities, and development of novel diagnostic tools are critical steps towards personalized medicine and improved outcomes in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The present project is conducted at the Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT), where glutamatergic neurotransmission and neuronal excitability will be examined across genetics, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons, and in vivo electrophysiology in healthy individuals and individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorders.
We collaborate with research groups in Norway and abroad.
- Prof. Ole A. Andreassen, NORMENT, UiO/OUH
- Prof. Erik Jönsson, NORMENT, UiO
- Prof. Srdjan Djurovic, NORMENT, UiO
- Prof. Lars T. Westlye and Prof. Tobias Kaufmann, NORMENT, UiO and University of Tübingen
- Prof. Bjørn Bjorvatn, Norwegian Competence Center for Sleep Disorders, Bergen
- Dr. Stine Knudsen, C. of Exp. For Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Hypersomnias, OUH
- Prof. Gaute Einevoll, NMBU/UiO
- ENIGMA (Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) consortia for sleep and bipolar disorders
- EURONET-SOMA: European Research Network on somatoform disorders; group leader: Prof. Bernd Löwe, Uni Hamburg-Eppendorf, Abt. Für Psychotherapie und Psychosomatische Medizin, Germany
- Dr. Mirjana Maletic-Savatic, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA
- Tuomo Mäki-Marttunen, Tampere University of Technology, Finland
As part of the clinical part of our research, we have founded two research networks in Norway. These networks have resulted in several Ph.D.s and publications on mood disorders.
- Norwegian research network for mood disorders (NORMOOD)
- Bipolar research and innovation network (BRAIN)