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Mood & Development Lab

About Us


Human mood is fascinating yet still poorly understood. What makes young people experience several days of euphoria with racing thoughts or go through months of low mood and lose interest in life’s pleasures? What brain mechanisms underlie the intense anger of some young people and why are irritable youth at higher risk for depression? 

Led by Argyris Stringaris MD, PhD, MRCPsych, the laboratory uses epidemiological, neuroimaging, and genetic methods to try to answer these questions. 

What we study

Bipolar disorder across development

Our research ranges from epidemiological studies about the prevalence of bipolar in young people to pharmacological imaging to help us understand the mechanisms of drug action in bipolar depression. We have a particular interest in dimension of manic symptoms and, especially, how symptoms of exuberance may be related to above-average cognitive achievements and creativity. 

Depression and irritability

We have identified irritability as a developmental trajectory to depression and have investigated the genetic underpinnings of this relationship. Most recently, we have shown the importance of irritability as a symptom of depression in adolescents and young adults. We now work on understanding the neural mechanisms of depressed and irritable mood. 

Mood regulation: measurement and brain mechanisms

We want to improve the way mood states and mood fluctuations are measured in young people. We have recently developed the Affective Reactivity Index, a concise instrument to measure irritability. Also, we have recently published about the importance of positive attributes on reducing risk for mental health. One of our key aims is to develop reliable markers of mood states using arterial spin labeling (ASL). This method is robust to small frequency fluctuations and may therefore allow us to understand the mechanisms of sustained mood changes. 

Recent Output

Stringaris A & Taylor E (2015). Disruptive Mood: Irritability in Children and Adolescents. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Disruptive Mood Book Image

Abnormal states of anger are a common reason for referral to child health services, and cause concern in clinics, schools, and families. Misdiagnosis and treatment can stem from a lack of understanding of the mechanisms involved in high levels of anger in children, and this book provides clear guidance on the development of abnormal states of anger, their consequences for later development, and how to assess and make differential diagnoses between them. A useful resource for clinical practice, this book is concise and accessible, and offers tools for evaluating treatments. 

Mikita N, Mehta MA, Zelaya FO, Stringaris A (2015). Using arterial spin labelling to examine mood states in youth. Brain and Behaviour [epub ahead of print].

Stringaris A*, Vidal-Ribas Belil P*, Artiges E*, Lemaitre H, Gollier-Briant F, Wolke S, Vulser H et al. (2015).  The brain's response to reward anticipation and depression in adolescence: dimensionality, specificity and longitudinal predictions in a community-based sample. American Journal of Psychiatry [in press]. *The first three authors contributed equally to this work.

Recent recognition and support for our work

  • Disruptive Mood: Irritability in Children and Adolescents has been “Highly Commended” in the Psychiatry category of the 2016 BMA Medical Book Awards, and shortlisted for the BMA Medical Book of the Year Award 2016.

  • Aleksa Kaurin, an alumna of the Mood and Development Lab, has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship.

  • Our recent paper The Brain's Response to Reward Anticipation and Depression in Adolescence: Dimensionality, Specificity, and Longitudinal Predictions in a Community-Based Sample featured in the July 2015 issue of Psychiatry News, the newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association.

  • 2014 Best Paper in Suicide and Depression Prize published in JAACAP, awarded by the Klingenstein Foundation to Dr Stringaris for the paper Irritable Mood as a Symptom of Depression in Youth: Prevalence, Developmental, and Clinical Correlates in the Great Smoky Mountains Study.

  • 2014 Wellcome Trust Enhancement Award and award by the Biomedical Research Centre to Dr Stringaris to conduct the study Brain effects of lurasidone: a randomized placebo controlled acute-dose study. 


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