"The clinical and functional imaging effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on illness awareness in schizophrenia"
This study seeks to explore the clinical and functional imaging effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on illness awareness in schizophrenia, arguably the most treatment-resistant manifestation of the disorder. Schizophrenia is ranked 5th among leading causes of disability in industrialized countries and is estimated to cost Canada over $7 billion per year. Impaired awareness of illness, occurring in up to 95% of patients with schizophrenia, is associated with medication non-adherence, poorer functioning and higher risks of relapse, re-hospitalization and violence.
"The role of microglia in synapse refinement during the neuroendocrine adaptation to stress"
Chronic stress is a major risk factor for serious mental illnesses including major depression, posttraumatic stress disorders and memory impairment. Indeed, stress-related disorders have emerged as "epidemic," estimated to cost $31 billion a year in lost productivity, and billions more in direct medical costs in Canada. How does chronic stress impair our mental health? A common theme in stress-related disorders is that persistent activation of the stress response rewires our brain (known as neuroplasticity) and causes maladaptive forms of neuroplasticity that underlie various disease symptoms.
"A Multiple Biomarker Approach to Investigating Psychosocial Treatment Response in Justice-involved Youth with Conduct Disorder"
Some youth who are in conflict with the law have a history of violence. Many also display conduct disorder, which is a serious behavioural and psychiatric illness associated with disruptive and aggressive behaviour. Fortunately, talk-based therapies have been shown to reduce violence and aggression in these youth. The Stop Now And Plan (SNAP) model is one of the best-studied treatment for aggression and violence in youth. SNAP teaches youth to make better choices in the moment and works to reduce impulsive behaviour, a strong risk factor for violence in this population. The SNAP Youth Justice model has been developed for youth in conflict with the law. We propose using a state-of-the-art brain-imaging technique, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to learn how this SNAP Youth Justice model impacts brain function in treated youth. We also propose studying how it affects morning cortisol levels, a stress hormone. We will recruit justice-involved youth with conduct disorder and a history of violent behaviour from the Youth Justice Clinic at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
"Self-critical perfectionism in the transition to university: Identifying links to depression and anxiety and designing a targeted intervention"
The transition to university is a stressful time for new students; many develop mental health problems that can interfere with their schoolwork, social life and general functioning. The study's first goal is to determine whether self-critical perfectionism represents a risk factor for experiencing increased depression and/or anxiety in the first year of university. Incoming undergraduate students will complete questionnaires reporting on their levels of perfectionism, depression, anxiety and stress at three points: before the start of the semester (July-August); halfway through the semester (in mid-October); and at the end of the semester (mid-December). This data will be used to identify a cut-off score for self-critical perfectionism above which a person is at higher risk of developing depression or anxiety; and to determine the level at which self-critical perfectionism becomes a real clinical concern. The study's second goal is to design and test an intervention for people with high levels of self-critical perfectionism. Two different components of an intervention will be tested. First, cultivating self-compassion, which is an attitude of kindness and sensitivity towards one’s distress and shortcomings. This may be especially effective in reducing shame and guilt, which are the hallmarks of self-critical thinking. A second intervention will teach students how to cope with stress.
"Toddler Negative Affect Regulation: Understanding the Role of Caregiver, Child, and Relationship Factors Across High, Moderate, and Low Distress Contexts"
Child and adult mental health challenges are believed to develop in part when individuals don't acquire the abilities to adequately cope with emotional, stressful or painful experiences in the first years of life. Young children primarily learn these abilities through repeated, high-quality interactions with caregivers. To best understand how young children learn to cope with distress and ultimately avoid mental health challenges, it is important to study the relative influences of caregiver, child and caregiver-child (dyadic) dynamics. While key child and dyadic relationship variables will be integrated in this research, the main focus will be to examine which caregiver characteristics result in the largest deficits in children’s emotional coping by studying dyads across high, moderate and low distress contexts. Pushing the boundaries of this innovative approach even further, emotional coping will be considered from behavioural and biological (heart rate changes) perspectives.
"Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Inflammation and White Matter Integrity in Youth with Mood Disorders"
"Dissecting Functional Role of Cholinergic Transmission in Pre-Attentive Sensory Filtering Critical for Cognitive Functions"
"Facilitating Treatment Response and Engagement in Anorexia Nervosa: Towards an Empirical Rationale for the Integration of Compassion-Focused Therapy"
"The SUPPORT Studies - Schizophrenia Understood in the Perinatal Period: Psychiatric Outcomes and Reproductive Trajectories"