Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Ingmar Franken
Research Program “Cognitive aspects of Psychopathology”
The mission of our research program “Cognitive aspects of Psychopathology” is to conduct research on the (neuro)cognitive factors that contribute to the etiology and maintenance of psychopathology. The dominant approach to achieve this goal is experimental, although also longitudinal and correlational designs are used. We investigate various types of psychopathology, but members in the research program tend to focus on three main disorders: addiction, anxiety and depression. In our research program we focus on three related areas which are organized in subprograms: The clinical, developmental and neurocognitive perspective. We are particularly interested in studies covering all three of these areas and stimulate close collaboration between these subprograms.
Subprogram 1. Clinical perspective
This subprogram examines cognitive processes in emotional disorders in a clinical context. Research is two-fold: a) fundamental research into the basic cognitive mechanisms underlying psychopathology (in clinical and non-clinical samples), intended to advance theories of the etiology and maintenance of psychopathology, and b) clinical intervention studies to develop new ways of treating emotional disorders. Overall, the main purpose of this subprogram is to bridge the gap between cognitive science and clinical treatment, thereby providing effective new ways of treating emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. This is done by collaborating with mental health institutions as well as medical centres. Moreover, there are plans to start an Erasmus University Research Polyclinic in which patients will receive experimental treatments, in collaboration with PsyQ.
Subprogram 2. Developmental perspective
The aim of this subprogram is gaining a better understanding of the pathways by which maladaptive cognitive processes develop, and may lead to psychopathology. The focus of this subprogram is on the development of processes involved in emotion regulation and internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety disorders). This requires consideration of a wide range of influences and, most importantly, their potential for complex, dynamic, transformational interactions (i.e., transactions) across development. There are collaborations with Erasmus MC – Sophia and Yulius.
Subprogram 3. Neurocognitive perspective
This subprogram investigates the neurocognitive aspects of psychopathology. This subprogram focuses on psychopathology that is associated with the brain's reward system, with special focus on addiction, anhedonia, eating disorders, and impulsive behaviors seen in personality disorders. Techniques such as ERPs, fMRI, and psychopharmacological challenges are used to elucidate abnormal neurobiological, cognitive, motivational, and affective processes involved in these disorders. There is close collaboration with Bouman GGZ (Addiction Care) and PsyQ (Mental Health Care).