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A digital revolution for mental health science

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Muzaffer Kaser.

Chair: Dr Rudolf Cardinal

Abstract: As our understanding of the neurobiological and cognitive correlates of mental health and illness has grown through decades of research, one thing has become clear: Things are more complicated than we might have hoped. Many small effects, spanning genetic, biological, psychosocial, lifestyle, environmental and psychological levels of analysis, conspire to confer individual risk. These factors interact with one another in ways we are only beginning to understand and have not yet been able to leverage in the clinic – in part due to low power and a preponderance of cross-sectional studies. In this talk, I’ll describe recent efforts to use Internet-based methods to scale up research in mental health, in particular within-subject, longitudinal and treatment-related study designs. I’ll discuss how this involves a challenging but necessary shift from clinician-assigned diagnosis towards self-report assessments and share our experience trialling a range of methods that allow us to follow significant numbers of people through time. These include the analysis of archival twitter data as a proxy for momentary fluctuations in mood, a fully internet-based longitudinal treatment prediction study and the development of a smartphone app ( that aims to achieve a relatively deep characterisation of ‘brain health’ in the population at large.

Biography: Dr Gillan gained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013 under the supervision of Trevor Robbins. She is currently an Associate Professor at Trinity Institute of Neurosciences, Trinity College Dublin. Her lab, Gillan Lab, is interested in developing novel approaches to studying brain health in psychiatric and ageing populations – a key goal is to develop objective tests that can be used to predict who will respond to which treatment. For detailed biography of Dr Gillan, please visit:”

This talk is part of the Department of Psychiatry & CPFT Thursday Lunchtime Seminar Series series.

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