About the EDIT Lab
The Emotional Development, Interventions and Treatment (EDIT) lab consists of a group of researchers led by Prof Thalia Eley, Dr Tom McAdams, and Dr Kate Lester. We are based at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London.We study the role of genetic, cognitive and environmental factors in the development and treatment of emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression. At present we have three main themes in what we do: Therapygenetics, Children of Twins and Information processing.
Therapygenetics is an exciting new research field in which we are using genetic markers to predict response to psychological therapy outcomes. Understanding why psychological therapies work well for some people, but not for others, is important because it may help guide treatment selection and improve treatment outcomes. To date we have explored this question using two samples: children being treated with CBT for an anxiety disorder at one of 10 different anxiety specialist centres across the world (GxTc) , and adults being treated with exposure based CBT for Panic or a Specific Phobia at one of three clinics in Germany (GxTE).
Currently we are running a new study called BioPoRT (Biomarkers and Prediction of Response in Psychological Therapy). We are recruiting participants who have accessed psychological treatment through the NHS initiative “Increasing Access to Psychological Treatment” and are collecting information about how they feel after the treatment has ended as well as saliva samples. We hope this will enable us to better predict who benefits from which types of psychological treatment.
Dr Thalia Eley, professor of developmental behavioural genetics, was recently interviewed by Motherboard, on the EDIT Lab's work on therapygenetics.
Children of Twins
The Children of Twins design is used to explore the transmission of traits within families. As the adult parents are twins, we are able to disentangle whether traits run in families because of genetic inheritance, or because of living together, or both. The Children of Twins design makes use of adult twin pairs and their children.
This is because when identical twins have children those children are as just as genetically related to their parents’ twin brother or sister as they are to their own parent. Parents always pass 50% of their genes on to their children, so children of identical twins share 50% of their DNA with their parent and their parents’ twin. However, it is only their parent that provides each child with their rearing environment.
This quirk of nature gives researchers an opportunity to distinguish whether transmission within families is due to genes, the environment or both. Identifying the ways in which emotional problems are transmitted from one generation to the next provides clues for the best places to focus efforts on intervention and early treatment. We have been analysing data from a previously existing Children of Twins study, and are now embarking on a new study “CoTEDS” in which we will recruit children of the large UK based Twins Early Development Study (TEDS).
The way we attend to, interpret and think about our environments can have considerable impact on how our environments affect us. For example, individuals with higher levels of emotional symptoms tend to be more likely to interpret ambiguous information as negative or to focus on threatening rather than neutral aspects of the environment. We are particularly interested in whether these aspects of information processing might be mechanisms through which genetic influences on anxiety and depression operate.
Previous studies we have run that explore these issues include ECHO, CATS and PAWS. Currently we are working on a new study focused on understanding the processes by which individuals learn to fear or not fear specific images or objects.