Experimental manipulation of cognitive processes

Theme Mental health

Workstream Psychological interventions

Status: This project is ongoing

This project aims to build on our previous work around mental health interventions that target mental functions such as attention, memory and emotion perception. We want to explore new therapeutic possibilities focussing on these cognitive processes and find the best ways of delivering them.

Studies have shown that cognitive processes associated with attention, memory and emotion perception may play a part in the development and/or maintenance of mental health disorders. However, such studies are often small, and it has been hard to establish whether these processes are genuine therapeutic targets, cognitive biomarkers or have no impact on how diseases develop.

The term therapeutic target refers to something that we think is likely to be causing or contributing to how an illness develops. Targeting this process through a specific intervention could potentially help us change how the disease progresses. Cognitive biomarkers are objective measurements that we can track to see how a disease is progressing or whether treatment has worked. They don’t, however, contribute to how the disease develops.

During this project we will use existing cognitive data from cohort studies such as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) or Born in Bradford (BiB). We will also collect new data and combine this with looking at experimental medicine techniques to discover and validate both cognitive therapeutic targets and cognitive biomarkers. We will use this to co-produce psychological interventions with user groups in later projects.