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Early onset depressions: Can neuroscience aid clinical decision making?

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  • UserProfessor Ian Goodyer, Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Developmental Psychiatry
  • ClockTuesday 29 September 2009, 16:45-17:15
  • HouseWest Road Concert Hall.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Hannah Critchlow.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health Symposium, 29th – 30th September 2009 at West Road Concert Hall. This event is free to attend for cambridge neuroscientists although registration is required. To register, and for further information, please visit:

Abstract: In a prospective study of well adolescents at risk for clinical depression we determined if the known association between morning waking cortisol levels and the subsequent onset of an episode of major depression was moderated by the short (‘s’) allele in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTTLPR). We showed that ‘s’ carriers (s/l and s/s) had a significantly different distribution of morning cortisol compared to l/l carriers. There was a significant gene x hormone interaction predicting episode onset [ ‘s’ x morning cortisol, odds ratio = 10.2 (se 10.6) Z= 2.23, p= 0.026, 95% CI = 1.3-78.4]. The marginal predicted probability of being depressed for those with one or both copies of the short ‘s’ allele begin to increase from the 50th centile (log level>=1.03ng/ml) of morning cortisol upwards. Above this level 21 (68%) of the 32 cases occur and of these 17 (81%) carry one or both ‘s’ alleles.

Biography: Professor Ian Goodyer is professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He conducts research in the fields of emotional and behavioural disorders in childhood and adolescence. He has focussed on psychoendocrine and neurocognitive components of risk for mental illnesses that emerge in the second decade of life. His research group utilize genetically and developmentally sensitive prospective and experimental designs and undertake randomized controlled trials in depression and conduct disorders. He is particularly interested in determining the role of early experience on the cognitive control of emotions, the effects of cortisol hypersecretion on the developing brain, the biological basis of resilience in the face of adversity and the effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatments on depression in the medium as well as the short term. He has contributed to the UK National Institute of Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the treatment of child and adolescent depression.

This talk is part of the Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health Symposium series.

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