Led by Joaquim Raduà, the IDIBAPS group Imaging of mood- and anxiety-related disorders (IMARD) works to identify the changes in the brain involved in these disorders, and to determine the best treatment for each sufferer using neuroimaging techniques. In recent years, the group has published many high-impact articles in leading neuroscience journals. One such journal, Molecular Psychiatry, published by Springer Nature, recently listed two of the group’s papers among the best twelve to appear in the journal in 2022.
The first of these, signed by Raduà as joint first author, is a systematic review and meta-analysis of the age of onset of mental disorders. The study, based on data from more than 700,000 patients, concludes that nearly half of all mental disorders begin appearance before the age of 18 years. “At that time, the brain is undergoing major maturational changes”, says the researcher. These results have important implications, as they can help to better orient work in mental health prevention and provide guidance in the transition from child and adolescent mental health to adult mental health. “To ensure that a prevention programme is effective, it must be implemented at the specific age at which each mental disorder begins. Moreover, the current separation between mental health provisions for under-18s and over-18s fragments the care that people need when they reach the age of majority”.
The second article, whose authors include Miquel A. Fullana, a researcher in the team led by Raduà, focuses on the contribution of a brain region, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, in fear learning: “This is a region that has usually been associated with fear inhibition or extinction. The data collected by our team and collaborators suggest that it is vital to study the anterior and posterior sub-regions of this area, as they could play a different role”, says Fullana. “The anterior sub-region may inhibit fear, but the posterior sub-region could accelerate the onset of this emotion”. One of the implications of the group’s findings is that lesions in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex have different effects on fear depending on which of the two sub-regions are affected. Moreover, brain stimulation techniques, which are used to treat certain mental disorders, would have different effects according to whether they were applied to one sub-region or the other. This article took third place in the list of twelve selected high-impact papers.