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Imaging psychosis

Our main research focus is on etiology, neuroanatomy and early risk factors in psychotic disorders.

About the group

We investigate brain structural and functional characteristics using advanced MRI and how it relates to etiology (genes and environmental factors, i.e. alcohol and substance use) and early risk factors (e.g. obstetric complications), exposure to viral or other microbial infections, as well as with the clinical phenotype, immune markers and brain structure plasticity due to antipsychotic medication.

In longitudinal studies, we follow the developmental brain trajectories.


  • Investigate etiological risk factors and pathophysiological mechanisms in severe mental illness (foremost schizophrenia and affective psychosis disorders) from a brain imaging perspective.
  • Continue to develop a cohort of adolescents with early-onset psychosis for studying the brain and cognitive development to shed light on a not very well studied disease in youth.
  • Study how discreet psychotic symptoms, cognition, disease severity and related brain changes are related with exposure to viral agents and a history obstetric complications in severe mental illness.
  • Determine whether the blood brain barrier is compromised and can explain some of the the brain changes.
  • Apply and develop the best MR methodology to for brain and body studies.


  • EOP-study: Adolescent early onset schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A cohort study of adolescent patients followed over time. Since severe psychosis is rare and under-researched among adolescents, we started a Scandinavian multicenter study to reach as many adolescents with diagnosed schizophrenia or affective psychosis. They are studied for brain function and clinical and cognitive development and cardiovascular and metabolic factors, in addition to brain structure. The aim is to increase knowledge about psychosis among young people and contribute to safer diagnosis, improved treatment and possible preventive measures in the future.
  • Brain correlates of persistent apathy, hallucinations and structural plasticity from antipsychotic medication.
  • Cardiovascular MRI and liver fat in patients with long-term treated schizophrenia.
  • Study of obstetric complications and viral exposure to blood brain barrier integrity using biomarkers and brain imaging. Importance of herpetogenic infections exposure to discrete brain structures (e.g. the dentate gyrus), and to cognitive function and symptoms of psychosis.
  • Use of novel MRI methods such as free-water DTI and myelin mapping.
  • Longitudinal follow-up: Cohorts of adult long-term treated diagnosed with schizophrenia or affective psychosis. We examine the brain correlates from a genetic and environmental and clinical perspective.
  • Sensory perception studies in psychosis using EEG/MRI (lead by Professor Erik Jönsson).


The group is actively involved in the TOP-project included in NORMENT and the K.G. Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, led by Professor Ole Andreassen.

Other collaborating research institutions and projects:

  • Scandinavia: Karolinska Institutet (the Human Brain Informatics Project (HUBIN), the Karolinska Schizophrenia Project (KaSP), and the Stockholm Child and Adolescence Psychosis Study (SCAPS)), Uppsala University, and the University of Bergen. 
  • Europe: EURONES.
  • USA: UCLA, UCSD, and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
  • International research consortia: the Psychiatric Genetics Consortium (PGC), Enhancing Neuroimaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA), ImageMend. We direct the ENIGMA adolescent early-onset psychosis studies (ENIGMA-EOP).


  • Norwegian Research Council
  • South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority (Helse Sør-Øst HF)
  • The Swedish Research Council.

Selected publications

Wolfers T, Doan NT, Kaufmann T, Alnæs D, Moberget T, Agartz I, Buitelaar JK, Ueland T, Melle I, Franke B, Andreassen OA, Beckmann CF, Westlye LT, Marquand AF. Mapping the Heterogeneous Phenotype of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Using Normative Models. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Oct 10. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.2467.

Smelror RE, Jørgensen KN, Lonning V, Kelleher I, Cannon M, DeRosse P, Malhotra AK, Karlsgodt KH, Andreassen OA, Lundberg M, Edbom T, Cleland N, Ueland T, Myhre AM, Rund BR, Agartz I. Healthy Adolescent Performance With Standardized Scoring Tables for the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery: A Multisite Study.Schizophr Bull. 2018 Sep 19. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sby131.

van Erp TGM, Walton E, Hibar DP, Schmaal L, Jiang W, Glahn DC, Pearlson GD, Yao N, Fukunaga M, Hashimoto R, Okada N, Yamamori H, Bustillo JR, Clark VP, Agartz I, [...], Thompson PM, Turner JA. Cortical Brain Abnormalities in 4474 Individuals With Schizophrenia and 5098 Control Subjects via the Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics Through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium. Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Nov 1;84(9):644-654. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.023.

Mørch-Johnsen L, Nesvåg R, Jørgensen KN, Lange EH, Hartberg CB, Haukvik UK, Kompus K, Westerhausen R, Osnes K, Andreassen OA, Melle I, Hugdahl K, Agartz I. Auditory Cortex Characteristics in Schizophrenia: Associations With Auditory Hallucinations. Schizophr Bull. 2017 Jan;43(1):75-83. 

Jørgensen KN, Nerland S, Norbom LB, Doan NT, Nesvåg R, Mørch-Johnsen L, Haukvik UK, Melle I, Andreassen OA, Westlye LT, Agartz I. Increased MRI-based cortical grey/white-matter contrast in sensory and motor regions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychol Med. 2016 Jul;46(9):1971-85.

Haukvik UK, Westlye LT, Mørch-Johnsen L, Jørgensen KN, Lange EH, Dale AM, Melle I, Andreassen OA, Agartz I. In Vivo Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 15;77(6):581-8.

Published Nov. 13, 2018 10:59 AM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2022 9:24 AM


Group leader