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Clinical Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Research Program (CCNP)

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​​​​Research of the research program Clinical Cognitive Neuropsychiatry (CCNP) focuses on scientific explanations of disturbances in cognition and social cognition, as an end in itself or as possible underlying mechanisms of psychopathology. The research therefore also focuses on developing more effective, personalized treatments for psychiatric disorders that tie in with the various stages of development of these disorders; from prevention and early intervention to tertiary treatment. This is aimed at improving the prognosis of patients and reducing the very considerable burden of disease due to psychological and cognitive disorders. The program is therefore fully in line with the UMCG mission Healthy Aging.

Such an approach requires knowledge about:

  1. risk factors and protective factors
  2. pathophysiological and psychosocial mechanisms
  3. design and implementation of Randomized Clinical Trials and clinical cohort studies
  4. innovative research methods, including neuroimaging, virtual reality, Ecological Momentary Assessment, and various (other) types of biomarkers.


Because cognitive and psychiatric disorders strongly overlap with possible disease mechanisms, the program is not limited to specific diagnoses; the design is explicitly transdiagnostic. In line with the long-term course of mental disorders and age-related patterns of vulnerability, the life course perspective is chosen. At present, most expertise of adult and elderly psychiatry researchers lies in psychotic disorders, mood and anxiety disorders and in children and adolescents in the field of developmental and tic disorders. Emphasis will be given to overlap and continuity over the life course, and cooperation between researchers who specialize in research in different life phases.​

Regarding diagnostics, the research group works on systematically applying clinical staging and profiling in clinical trials and cohort studies, but also in daily patient care. A good integration of research / monitoring modules in the electronic patient dossier (EPD) is a basic condition for this. Innovative methods of diagnosis and treatment are also being investigated in clinical studies, such as Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), Virtual Reality (VR) and the further development of a diagnostic lab for patients (iLab).

Regarding treatment research, the research group focuses on both psychotherapeutic or cognitive interventions, as well as biologically targeted interventions such as new medication strategies (psychedelics, anti-inflammatory drugs) and neuromodulation (including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation rTMS, tACS, tDCS and Deep Brain Stimulation DBS ). Research is also being conducted into combination treatments, such as psychotherapeutic treatments supported by EMA or Virtual Reality.

Researchers link research into effectiveness to research into underlying mechanisms (genetics and imaging techniques such as fMRI, EEG and psycho-physiological measures such as pupil dilatation deconvolution, ECG, blood / CSF biomarkers) which are also studied in the healthy population. The resulting indicators are used to predict the response to interventions. We also collaborate with statisticians for more data-driven approaches.

The research aimed at prevention and early intervention includes the development of early detection programs, effect research of interventions at early stages of psychiatric disorders, relapse prevention and research into interventions in children of parents with psychiatric disorders.

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For the present research questions, UCP researchers within the UMCG collaborate with various departments and disciplines; Family medicine, nuclear medicine, neuroscience, neurology, neurosurgery, pharmacology, clinical chemistry, genetics and statistics. There are also collaborations with other faculties of the RUG, including via Healthwise, Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, Faculty of Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Applied Linguistics and Health Economics. The research of the new program will focus in particular on the theme Brain & Cognition (formerly Aging Brain) and the interfaculty research school BCN. The research group is multidisciplinary and has a strong clinical signature with an emphasis on applications relevant to practice in children, adults and the elderly. It distinguishes itself from the Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (ICPE) by the more clinical and transdiagnostic approach. A number of researchers may be affiliated with both programs, depending on the subject of specific research projects that they are engaged in.

For adult psychiatry, many long-term multi-center treatment studies are being conducted in close collaboration with the five major northern mental health institutions, united in the RGOc. This is a joint venture between GGz Friesland, Lentis, GGz Drenthe, Dimence Groep, Mediant and the UCP / UMCG. The research area of the RGOc comprises the four Northern Provinces with a small 3 million inhabitants. Thanks to a long-term investment from the GGz institutions, the RGOc has been able to build up a sustainable research structure for the Northern Netherlands, particularly with regard to mood and anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders and elderly psychiatry. There is intensive collaboration with RoQUA, the jointly developed Routine Outcome Monitoring and research system that is integrated into the EPDs of ten large mental healthcare institutions and the UCP. This gives researchers access to a well-functioning central database for the four northern provinces, the so-called Datawarehouse. The RGOc also manages the Psychiatric Case Register Northern Netherlands (PCRNN) with healthcare consumption data. The unique combination of a good GGz network, intensive monitoring of outcomes in healthcare through RoQUA and the case register guarantees an excellent infrastructure that facilitates proper inclusion and adequate data collection for a variety of (cost) effectiveness studies. This also applies to Accare, the largest youth mental health institution in the four Northern provinces.

Participating researchers

  • A. Aleman
  • A.A. Bartels-Velthuis
  • R. Bruggeman
  • B. Curcic-Blake
  • H.W. Hoek
  • P.J. Hoekstra
  • J.A.J. van der Krieke​
  • R.C. Oude Voshaar
  • R.A. Schoevers
  • I.E.C. Sommer
  • M.J. van Tol
  • W.A. Veling
  • K​.J. Wardenaar
  • J.T.W. Wardenaar-Wigman