Mental Illness and Addiction

Unravelling pathophysiology to design novel therapeutics is a priority for modern psychiatric research and a key goal of this research axis. The emphasis of this group is to investigate the behavioural and brain correlates of neurotransmitter dysfunction, using functional neuroimaging techniques, genetic dissection and pharmacological manipulations, while ensuring continuous dialogue between basic and clinical research and rapid knowledge transfer from the bedside, to the bench and back.

The Mental Illness and Addiction Axis research team has significant expertise in the social and translational neuroscience of mental disorders and utilizes a wide array of complementary state-of-the-art behavioural and biological tools to define specific proof-of-concept hypotheses of pathophysiology.

The addiction program combines the strengths of a well-established hospital-based treatment unit and an emerging translational neuroscience program. The research program covers many important concerns ranging from behavioural neuroscience and neurophysiology, to pharmacology, the genetic risk for developing addiction, and hospital and community-based treatment programs in addiction. Mood disorders studies involve the research of novel antidepressant treatments, such as compounds that act on the cannabinoid systems, and high frequency deep brain or vagus nerve stimulation in treatment-refractory depressed patients.

Autism research within the axis is world renowned, and involves identification of environmental risk factors, secular trends in incidence, and efficacy of psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions. The autism research program is supported by a strong clinical program recognized as a major tertiary and quaternary center for the province of Quebec. Research on Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) involves evaluating the efficacy of novel interventions combining psychopharmacology and psychotherapeutical techniques across age ranges. Pharmacogenetic studies are also being pursued to understand better mechanisms which underlie response to drug treatment in this disorder.