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The Applied Computational Psychiatry lab focuses on developing computational tools with real potential for clinical applications.

Computational Psychiatry is a multidisciplinary field of research at the intersection of psychiatry, neuroscience, machine learning and statistics. The aim of the field is to harness advances in these fields to advance treatments for mental illnesses. For overviews over computational psychiatry, see Huys et al., 2016 Nature Neuroscience and Huys et al. 2020 Neuropsychopharmacology

When an organ is unable to meet the demands placed on it, illness can arise. As the main functions of the brain are to compute and learn, an understanding of mental illnesses will benefit from an understanding of the computational and learning functions the brain performs, and how these are affected in states of ill-health.

Latest Publications

Heuristics in risky decision-making relate to preferential representation of information. Russek, Evan; Moran, Rani; Liu, Yunzhe; Dolan, Raymond J; Huys, Quentin JM (2024). Nature Communications. In Press

When making choices people differ from each other, as well as from normativity, in how they weigh different types of information. One explanation for this deviance relates to selective prioritization of what information is considered during choice evaluation.

We employed a risky decision-making paradigm to examine the relationship between individual differences in neural representation of information and behavior. Individual differences in a tendency to neurally represent reward- versus probability-informative stimuli explained differences in weighting of either information type in choices.

Our overall results suggest that differences in the information individuals consider during choice shape their risk-taking tendencies.

Emotion-induced frontal α asymmetry predicts relapse after discontinuation of antidepressant medication. Berwian, Isabel M; Tröndle, Marius; Miquel, Carlota ; Ziogas, Anastasios; Stefanics, Gabor; Walter, Henrik; Stephan, Klaas E; Huys, Quentin JM (2024). Biological Psychiatry. In Press.

One in three patients relapse after antidepressant discontinuation. However, no clinical or other predictors are established. Frontal reactivity to sad mood as measured by fMRI has been reported to relate to relapse independently of antidepressant discontinuation. Patients who had remitted from a depressive episode while taking antidepressants underwent EEG recording during a sad mood induction procedure prior to gradually discontinuing their medication.

Sad mood induction was robust across all groups. Reactivity of α-asymmetry to sad mood did not distinguish healthy controls from patients with remitted MDD on medication. However, the 14 (25%) patients who relapsed during the follow-up period after discontinuing medication showed significantly reduced reactivity in α-asymmetry compared to patients who remained well.

Latest Preprints

Exploring the Unexplored: Worry as a Catalyst for Exploratory Behavior in Anxiety and Depression. Kristin Witte and Toby Wise and Quentin J. M. Huys and Eric Schulz (2024). PsyArxiv

In our studies, we investigate the link between anxiety, depression, and exploration behaviour using a multi-armed bandit task that simulates real-world risks. The study consists of two parts: one correlational and the other experimental, involving an intervention to reduce worry. Findings indicate that worry may causally lead to increased exploration, suggesting that anxious and depressive traits, through worrying, can encourage seeking new experiences rather than reducing exploration.

Learning training boosts causal attribution tendencies similarly to brief cognitive restructuring, depending on individual differences in learning rate. Norbury, Agnes; Hauser, Tobias; Dolan, Raymond; Huys, Quentin J. M. (2024). PsyArXiv, 2024.

A core part of cognitive therapy for low mood is learning to identify and challenge negative beliefs. However, it is currently unclear whether improved ability to recognise such beliefs is a mechanism of symptom change during treatment.

Here, we investigated the effects of both a learning task and a brief cognitive restructuring intervention on a task-based measure of causal attribution tendencies. We found that both learning training and the restructuring intervention decreased tendencies to make unhelpful attributions and increased tendencies to make self-enhancing attributions.