I am the director of the Psychopharmacology and Emotional Research Lab (PERL) based at the University Department of Psychiatry in Oxford. This forms a multi-disciplinary team and includes graduate research assistants, DPhil students, post-doctoral researchers, Psychiatrists and Pharmacologists. The research of the group focuses on the psychological mechanisms of antidepressant drug action by exploring drug effects on human models of emotional processing. A range of methodologies are used, including neuropsychological testing, transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional neuroimaging with fMRI and PET in healthy volunteers and patient samples. This research has the potential to integrate psychological and pharmacological views of depression and treatment and has challenged the way in which we typically consider drug treatment for depression to work (see Harmer et al 2009). In addition this research has led to the development of human experimental models to explore the effects of established and novel drugs for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Such results therefore have implications both for how we understand antidepressants to work but also in the identification and development of new treatments for depression and anxiety.
Catherine Harmer summarises a recent network meta-analysis relating to her own Wellcome Trust funded research into antidepressants for young people with anxiety or depression.[read the full story...]