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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

John Vincent


PhD student



Project title: The genetics of cognitive biases in the development and treatment of psychiatric disorders

Summary: Both genes and the environment influence the development and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Gene-environment interaction (GxE) studies suggest that genetic variants moderate the effects of negative and positive environments on psychopathology (Belsky and Pluess 2009). These same variants may also be important predictors of response to psychological treatments (Keers, Coleman et al. 2016). However, Little is known about the mechanisms underlying these associations. It has been suggested that genetic variants increase sensitivity to the environment through cognitive biases, such as an increased attention towards emotional stimuli (Fox, Zougkou et al. 2011, Pergamin-Hight, Bakermans-Kranenburg et al. 2012). Nevertheless, this hypothesis has only been tested in a select few candidate genes, and is yet to be explored using genome-wide data.

The broad aims of the project are 1) to use whole-genome data to understand the relationship between cognitive biases and psychiatric disorders and 2) investigate whether genes implicated in cognitive biases moderate the effects of the environment on the development of psychiatric illnesses and response to psychological interventions.