Neuroimaging Studies and Neuromodulation Treatment

Major depressive disorder, or depression, can have a devastating effect not only on individuals but on society at large. Despite its high toll, there has been little improvement in treatment efficacy for this disorder. Recently, the Department has established navigated neuromodulation treatment facilities. It has also conducted clinical trials, funded by the Research Grants Council (RGC) and Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF), of neuromodulation interventions such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treatment-resistant depression, bipolar affective disorder, and neurocognitive disorders. Within the Department and in cooperation with the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht), we have embarked on several synergistic neuromodulation research projects. The objective of these projects is to devise clinical interventions for mood-disordered patients and examine the structural connectivity map that explains the functional connectivity and treatment response trajectory of their illness. By combining neuroimaging and navigated neuromodulation, this research approach has the potential of identifying network-based neural biomarkers. The latter can then be utilised in hypothesis-driven treatment studies that target TMS on selected biotypes of depression.

In addition, the Department has begun a multimodal research programme — Prospective Evaluation of Affective Complex symptoms and Etiological Factors (PEACE) — to study the relationships of brain energy metabolism, structure and functional connectivity in bipolar and related disorders. This programme involves the prospective evaluation of young adults with unipolar and bipolar disorders, using systematic phenomenological evaluation, neuropsychological assessment, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and functional magnetic resonance imaging.