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Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation (ICPE)


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Body and mind are one. Mental problems, such as fear and depression, are closely linked to physical and biological factors. That is the basis for the research of the Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), bringing together researchers who link mood disorders and biological factors connecting body and mind.

Programme Leaders   Mission and Description of the Programme  

The Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE) aims to perform high-quality interdisciplinary research on psychobiological processes involved in the onset and course of mood-related problems, in order to develop effective personalized interventions to improve social-emotional functioning.
Major objectives are: (1) To better understand which factors contribute to the onset and course of mood-related problems, and how these factors vary across individuals; and (2) To use this knowledge to develop effective personalized interventions to prevent and treat emotional dysregulation.

The ICPE is a highly interdisciplinary program, encompassing researchers with various backgrounds, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, family medicine, neuroscience, mathematics and philosophy. The program focuses on the research theme described above, and adopts various approaches to achieve its goal. Large longitudinal epidemiological surveys (for example, TRAILS, NESDA, LifeLines) are complemented with more in-depth studies in smaller groups, including neuroimaging, psychophysiological, and intensive time-series studies, thereby enabling the elucidation of underlying endophenotypes and temporal patterns. The study designs are both observational and experimental, and involve a variety of (neuro)psychological, social and biological measures.

Specific research subthemes within the program include questions regarding mental health trajectories, person-environment transactions and interactions, emotional stability and reactivity, and psychopathology in the context of somatic conditions. The ultimate goal is to identify high-risk groups as well as underlying risk or protective factors in order to develop more effective, personalized prevention and intervention strategies for mood-related problems.

The ICPE seeks to offer its staff members the best possible opportunities to carry out outstanding research. This is facilitated by weekly research meetings organized by PhD students; meetings twice a month for postdocs and senior staff to critically discuss ideas, plans, and strategic issues; and grant proposal writing groups. This approach has been quite successful, as evidenced by the award of two Veni grants, three Vici grants, an ERC grant and a fellowship from the Dutch Brain Foundation. Moreover, the ICPE has gained a reputation for being not only a productive program but also a highly inspiring research environment with high ethical standards, and has proven to be attractive to excellent researchers from other institutes.

Relevance to Healthy Ageing  

The ICPE has adopted a life course perspective on the development of mental health problems, implying that they are considered the consequence of a continuous interplay of genetic or acquired person characteristics and environmental factors. Besides having a major impact on quality of life, mental health problems also mark an increased risk of future physical health problems and aggravate disabilities, and are thus of crucial relevance for healthy ageing.

An example of ICPE’s research projects   

MOOVD: on the road to personal lifestyle advice
Researchers: Mara Bouwmans and Sanne Booij

Depression is a rapidly increasing health problem. Some 121 million people suffer from this disease around the globe. Various underlying factors influence the course and the severity of a depression. These factors are not always the same for each individual under all circumstances. The most common research method in psychiatric epidemiology is cross-sectional research taking measurements in large groups of people. This method gives insight into the connections between variables on a group level. However, the results in the case of depression are most probably hardly relevant for the individual.
With the MOOVD (Mood and Movement in Daily Life) study we use a method aimed at the individual to gain insight into the aetiology and course of the mood problem. Participants, both with and without depression, use diaries and saliva samples and wear an accelerometer three times a day for thirty days in a row. This gives detailed information on thoughts, behaviour and depression related physiological markers. Using time sequence analyses we then test which variables influence the day to day mood and vice versa, how strong the connections are between the variables and on what time scale they exert their influence. We take into account that there can be other mutual connections for each individual and that there may be complex interactions between various factors.
Beside gathering knowledge on the cause and course of mood problems, we also hope to provide each participant with a tailor-made (lifestyle) advice to improve their day-to-day mood. This way we hope to create a bridge between research and practice.

Principal Investigators / nr of PhD students