New research centre to focus on the function of the human mind

October 30 2014

A new Centre of Excellence has been unveiled by the Institute of Mental Health in Nottingham, a partnership between Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and The University of Nottingham.

The Centre for Translational Neuroimaging for Mental Health aims to translate the wealth of new information about the function of the human mind and brain obtained from neuroimaging into clinically relevant applications.

The Centre brings together the world-renowned expertise of the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Centre, the Institute of Mental Health and clinicians at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to translate research into practice to improve mental healthcare.

The formal launch took place on Thursday 30 October at the Institute of Mental Health at The University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus.

The event included speeches from John Crace, Guardian feature writer and author, Professor Sir Robin Murray, Kings College London and Professor Barbara J Sahakian, University of Cambridge. There was also a presentation from Martha Rhodes, a Patient Advisory Council Member who devotes her time to patients and healthcare professionals throughout the United States and Europe as an advocate for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy for depression.

Martha spoke about her challenges with untreated, drug resistant depression and her road back to health after pursuing TMS therapy.

Professor Peter Liddle, Director of the new centre, said: “I am delighted to be able to launch a new dedicated centre for translational neuroimaging research. Despite major advances in our understanding of the brain and mental disorders over the past 20 years, the long term outcome of these disorders remains only marginally better than a century ago.

Research staff within the Centre will work hard to develop and implement practical procedures to utilise what we already know about brain structure and function of the brain in psychotic disorders to improve the reliability of diagnosis and prediction of future treatment needs.

We now have a real and exciting prospect of neuroimaging enhancing clinical practice in a way that substantially improves mental healthcare.”

The launch event showcased a number of mental health research projects and activities linking into the Centre. Current projects are focussed on specific clinical needs for improving care of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, depression, and developmental disorders such as Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

One of the projects that the Centre is currently working on is the development of a computer game that aims to help children with ADHD. Neuroimaging studies suggest that weak signalling of success or failure within the brain may make children with ADHD slower than their peers to master control over their attention and actions.

Using eye-tracking technology, the computer game (RECOGNeyes), is controlled by the child’s own eyes. Their progress in the game is linked to increased control over their direction of gaze and early pilot data suggests that this may provide the strong and immediate rewards that people with ADHD need for such skills to become habitual.

The new Centre will join other specific Centres of Excellence hosted at the Institute covering areas such as health and criminal justice, ADHD, advancing social interventions that promote mental health recovery and address inequalities, dementia and education.

Further information is available on the Institute of Mental Health website —

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