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Biological Psychiatry (Module)

Module description

What are the changes in brain function that underlie common psychiatric disorders? How might genetic and environmental factors interact to lead to poor mental health? Is it possible to use brain scans or blood tests to predict those at risk for developing psychiatric disorders, or select the most effective therapy? How might we use biological knowledge to develop new and more effective treatments?

These are just some of the questions that will be addressed in the Biological Psychiatry module. In this module, students will develop an advanced knowledge of the biological basis of the psychiatric disorders. Using current examples, students will learn about how research can reveal the processes that lead to poor mental health and how this knowledge can inform interventions to improve health outcomes.

Specific topics include:

  • Interactions between pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and brain function.
  • Neuroimaging: Principles, techniques and applications of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to measure brain structure, activity and neurotransmission and applications in psychiatric research.
  • Psychiatric Genetics: principles, limitations and application of Behavioural Genetics in psychiatry (Family, Twin and Adoption Studies).
  • Gene-Environment Interactions: The interplay between genetic and environmental factors in different stages of development, from infancy to old age.
  • Application of cellular and animal models, neuropathology, neuroimmunology and neuroendocrinology in psychiatric research.

The emphasis throughout the module is on developing a critical understanding of the possibilities and limitations of these approaches to psychiatric research, together with practical skills in these research methods. This is a rapidly developing field that often uses cutting-edge technologies to develop innovative approaches. The content is written and presented by expert staff from across the IoPPN, often using examples from their own research.

Staff information

Dr Valeria Mondelli

Teaching pattern

Not applicable

Module assessment - more information

Not applicable

Key information

Module code 7PCSBPSY

Credit level 7

Assessment coursework written examination/s

Credit value 30

Semester Semester 2 (spring)

Study abroad module No