Cerebral Imprints of Gender, Development and Pathology

Where we are

Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu

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In a spirit of inquiry, our group adopts a basic approach to the characterisation of the brain in various diseases. One of our main objectives is to apply new functional and structural neuroimaging techniques to various biomedical disciplines.

Our researchers continually collaborate with physicians and researchers on projects such as neonatal brain inflammation and its sequelae, or how the brain changes in the early stages of schizophrenia or Alzheimer's disease.

We are currently recognised as an emerging group by AGAUR (Government of Catalonia, 2017-SGR-1297). We also form part of the Centre for Biomedical Network Research on Mental Health (CIBERSAM), under the group led by Dr Josep Maria Haro.

Dr Stephan-Otto is an active member of the CIBERSAM Neuroimaging Platform and is currently working on an intra-CIBER project based on investigating brain imaging of first-episode psychosis.

Research lines

  1. Brain function in severe mental health disorders: we study the effect of symptomatology and cognitive alterations in patients with disorders such as schizophrenia, depression or anxiety.
  2. Inflammatory footprints on the brain: we examine the changes in brain morphology of patients with neurological and psychiatric diseases that could be due to inflammatory processes.
  3. Gender differences in brain structure: we quantify differences in brain morphology between men and women and the possible impact of a higher/lower concentration of sex hormones on both healthy populations and pathologies with sexual dimorphism.
  4. Characterisation of cerebral stroke in newborn infants: our aim is to better describe the stroke in order to improve both the diagnosis and prognosis in this clinically vulnerable population.

Scientific objectives

  1. To identify new biomarkers of cerebral function and structure for the clinical characterisation of severe mental health disorders.
  2. To identify new biomarkers of cerebral function and structure for the clinical characterisation of various neurological pathologies.
  3. To deepen our understanding of inflammatory mechanisms observed in both neurological and psychiatric cerebral pathologies.
  4. To develop prognostic-diagnostic tools in neonatal stroke that would facilitate more targeted therapeutic strategies (e.g., speech therapy in cases in which the verbal region is affected).

Area/Field of expertise

Our group's research is based on the use of neuroimaging to investigate pathologies of a very diverse nature. In particular, we have studied schizophrenia and depression using cognitive assessment protocols and functional neuroimaging which our group developed. We also carry out structural characterisations to study neurodevelopment and pathology. We have developed a new brain asymmetry measure with greater sensitivity than existing measures. This has enabled us to distinguish differentiated brain asymmetry patterns when comparing healthy men and women and also when comparing schizophrenia patients with a healthy population.

Our group is made up of professionals with a multifaceted profile, as the very nature of the group is to be markedly innovative and original. For example, we study body asymmetry as an indicator of neurodevelopmental alterations in the context of propensity to certain psychiatric symptoms. We also seek to investigate the effects of gender on pathology and neurodevelopment, an approach that has been identified as necessary in all biomedical research but which is still very scarce.

As an emerging group, we already have an outstanding track record in scientific production. We have published several articles over the past few years in first decile journals in different areas of research. We expect, in the years to come, that we will continue to grow and gain greater consolidation as a research group and that the impact of our various lines of research will gain international prominence.

Group members

Last Publications

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Projects

Project name:
COGNIVITRA: COGNItive VItality TRAining at home
Leader
Antonio Callen Soto
Funding entities:
Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII)
Code
AC18/00015
Starting - finishing date:
2019 - 2021
Project name:
RGS@HOME: The RGS@home project: Scaling ICT based neurorehabilitation to personalized 24/7 home care
Leader
Antonio Callen Soto
Funding entities:
EIT Health e.V
Code
RGS@home
Starting - finishing date:
2019 - 2021
Project name:
Diferencias de asimetría cerebral global entre personas con síntomas de depresión y de ansiedad.
Leader
Christian Núñez Leánez
Funding entities:
Instituto de especialidades neurológicas
Code
Beca Dr. Pedró Albert 2016
Starting - finishing date:
2017 - 2017
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Theses

  • Bases neurofuncionales de los déficits cognitivos asociados a las alucinaciones verbales
    Institution
    UNIVERSIDAD DE BARCELONA
    01/07/2018
  • Neurociencia de las alucinaciones: mecanismos neurocognitivos, neurofuncionales y neuroestructurales.
    Author
    Siddi, Sara
    Institution
    UNIVERSIDAD DE BARCELONA
    31/07/2017
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