Andrew Watson

Andrew Watson
Dr Andrew Watson is a clinical research fellow in psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently involved in studies using brain imaging to try and understand more about mental health problems. He enjoys trying to explain the relevance of exciting new neuroscience and hopes that he can give you a little fix of this as part of the Mental Elf team.


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Imaging genomics: can we link genes to brain structure and function?


Linking brain scans with genetic information offers a powerful way to further our understanding of how the brain works, but to do this properly many researchers from around the world need to collaborate. Fortunately, the ENIGMA Consortium are leading the way in this emerging field of imaging genomics.

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Antidepressants work by changing emotional processing

The road to recovery can be long and people need time and space to

For people who are suffering from a severe depression, antidepressants are a very effective treatment, but how they work is still not fully understood.  The basic biochemistry of how one dose of the drug affects one part of the nervous system is known, e.g. increasing serotonin levels at the synapse by preventing it from being [read the full story…]

Super Mario changes your brain


Some of the elves in our neck of the woods like to go on a trip to Mushroom Kingdom from time to time, just to relax and boost their abilities you understand.  Unfortunately being able to double in size or become invincible hasn’t happened in real life yet, but a recent study has looked at [read the full story…]

Are humans like monkeys? MRI scanning suggests similarities and differences that might help future research


Does a mouse think like a human? Does a cat? Does a macaque monkey? These are fascinating questions to ask on a philosophical level, but they are also of immense practical importance. Current regulations on drug development mean that animal research plays a huge role in deciding what substances might be safe and beneficial to humans.  [read the full story…]

Trying to understand brain networks associated with depression is hampered by how variable the condition is


At the start of using neuroimaging to try and understand mental health problems, the focus was on a specific area of the brain that might be different.  As the methods have become more sophisticated, the ability to look at how different areas of the brain are linked into functional networks has developed.  Whilst damage to [read the full story…]

Can MRI scanning help diagnose autism in infants?


After recent posts delving off into dark woodlands of some methodologically challenging brain imaging studies, we are coming back to a more simple idea: repeatedly scanning the same people from before they develop a disorder through to receiving a diagnosis.  What is different about this study is that it was done with infants aged 6-36 [read the full story…]

Do antipsychotics cause progressive brain changes in schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia taking antipsychotics saw a reduction in grey matter

For over 30 years researchers have found that people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have, on average, differences on brain scans compared to people without.  Not everybody with a diagnosis of schizophrenia will have these differences and it has not yet been possible to use brain scanning as a test to work out whether someone [read the full story…]

Can brain imaging help predict who will respond to CBT versus antidepressants?


A major challenge in the treatment of depression is that only a proportion of people respond to the first treatment they try.  For example, with antidepressants only 40% of people will see their symptoms fall to a level that can be considered a recovery.  Trying further treatments after the first one does not work can [read the full story…]

Brain imaging suggests that differences in emotional processing are present before developing depression

Three generations of women

When trying to understand more about about mental health problems one of the big questions is: are the results of a study due to how the person is currently feeling or are the results due to a predisposition to how they are feeling now? While often the answer will be a bit of both, researchers [read the full story…]

Brain imaging reveals different pattern of activity in ADHD, which is partly normalised by medication

An image of a brain

How brain imaging can help us understand mental health problems and their treatment is another service that the mental elf team will hopefully be able to offer.  By blogging about interesting new studies we hope to help you pick up a wee bit of how MRI, CT, EEG and MEG adds to our understanding.  While [read the full story…]