Understanding the neural and neurochemical mechanisms of motivation and emotion can help us identify the risk factors for mood disorders, heightened anxiety, compulsive behaviours and addictions, as well as point to possibilities for treatment development.
Department of Psychiatry
Our mission is to conduct world-class research, teach psychiatry to medical students, develop future researchers in our graduate programme, teach doctors in training, promote excellence in clinical practice, and develop and provide innovative clinical services.
We study the symptoms, diagnoses and results of investigations in large cohorts who have been examined over long periods of time to learn more about the causes and effects of psychiatric illness. We are particularly interested in social and biological factors involved in the development of mood, memory and developmental disorders, as well as other major psychiatric illness.
Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience
We research the biological basis of human behaviour and cognition to improve our knowledge of the living functioning brain, so we can understand how things might go wrong in disease, such as depression and schizophrenia.
Our central objectives are to elucidate the environmental mechanisms underlying children’s development in adversity and to use this understanding to develop interventions to enhance children’s development and support their families.
Mood disorders include depressive and bipolar disorders. Our research investigates the causes and symptoms of these disorders and how to prevent them or manage them more effectively by pharmaco- and psychotherapy and practical interventions.
We are running imaging studies in many disorders including: autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, motor neuron disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, gambling problems, as well as investigating many aspects of healthy brain function, including memory and face processing.
Psychiatry and Medicine
We study problems at the interface of psychiatry and other areas of medicine. Specific topics include depression in the medically ill, somatic symptoms, self-harm and suicide and the role of factors such as inflammation and obesity in the causation of psychiatric conditions.
Clinical Neurosciences, including neurology and psychiatry, share many methods, including methods of research. There is thus a large overlap in diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, and in unexplained neurological symptoms.
The aim of the groups in the translational neuroscience theme is to use information from basic science studies to improve therapies for patients. We study the role of key molecules in healthy brain function and psychiatric diseases using wide range of techniques in both in vivo and in vitro experimental models.
Before treatments can be approved and used by the public there must be a scientific understanding of how they work, their benefits and possible risks. Our research explores the mechanisms of mindfulness-based and other cognitive therapies, drug therapies, and even simple interventions, such as exercise.
Schizophrenia and Psychosis
Research in the Department tackles many aspects of schizophrenia, including understanding its neurobiological basis, improving therapies and assessing the impact of legal measures (including Community Treatment Orders) designed to improve adherence to treatment.
We have conducted research on eating disorders in Oxford for the last 30 years !
Global child development and mental health
We develop interventions to enhance children’s early development and support their families in the face of adversity such as family physical illness, poverty and malnutrition, and forced migration.
We measure cognition using laboratory-based tests that can help us understand how it may be disrupted by mental disorders. The study of cognition can help us understand, which brain mechanisms are involved in the symptoms and the possible treatment of illness.
We develop and evaluate psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioural, mindfulness-based cognitive, and practical problem solving therapy, and explore which ones work best for people with depression, health anxiety, somatic symptoms, eating disorders and paranoia.
Trials are important methods for finding out if treatments work, and are the basis for evidence-based clinical practice. We are interested to find out not only whether a treatment works, but also how it works and in whom.
Self harm and suicide
Suicide can often be attributed to an underlying mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, or drug or alcohol problems.
Society and Mental Health
As psychiatric care is increasingly delivered in the community, new forms of mental health services are developing. In order to help and support people with mental health problems, we need to understand how these treatment forms, some of them relying on formal coercion, work.