Mental Health & Neurology

Post-Doctoral Fellowships

United Kingdom

A neurocomputational framework for mental health maintenance

Everyone reacts differently to winning and losing. Controlling this process is key to our mental health – placing too little importance on positive outcomes could contribute to low mood, while placing too much could drive impulsive behaviors. Learning to regulate emotional states is thought to drive the effectiveness of psychological therapy, but to date, the neurocomputational mechanisms involved are relatively unknown.
Dr. Camilla Nord, an AXA Fellow at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge (UK) will investigate the ability to regulate emotional responses to good and bad outcomes. “There is an explanatory gap between effective psychological interventions and our understanding of their neural and cognitive mechanisms”, she says. Her approach will consist of using techniques from computational psychiatry and data science to better understand these important treatment avenues. “It is important for me to develop a project that cuts across diagnostic boundaries", she explains. "I think a key challenge in mental health research is the limitations of diagnostic categories.”

Dr. Nord aims to build a neurocomputational framework to better understand how humans regulate and maintain their mental state, which is a key aspect of successful psychological interventions. She then wants to use this framework to evaluate, test and develop novel treatment approaches for mental health disorders. Her primary objective will be to develop a specific, quantifiable measure of mental health maintenance - or regulation - via a computerized task. In follow-up experiments, Dr. Nord will explore the translational validity of this approach, and, most importantly, its relevance for particular mental health symptoms, adopting a transdiagnostic approach which measures symptoms such as mood, anxiety, and eating disorders...

These experiments will provide a window into the process of mental health maintenance across different conditions, potentially revealing clusters of symptoms where a better regulation via interventions could result in mental health improvement. “My research will increase our understanding of a key psychological process across many mental health disorders. This could improve our development of new treatments targeting this mechanism in those patients who would benefit most.”

Overall, Dr. Nord’s research aims to harness the capacity of cognitive computational neuroscience to shed light on a highly promising treatment avenue, priming the field for the development of innovative, targeted mental health interventions in future. The framework developed, she points out, could be extended in the future to evaluate public health, as well as psychological and pharmacological interventions for wellbeing.



University of Cambridge


United Kingdom



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