The University of Southampton

Research Group: Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (CiMH)

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The Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (CiMH) is a major new initiative that unites psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists with our partners in local schools and NHS services to deliver translational mental health research across the life span. The CiMH combines our expertise in child development, psychological interventions and affective neuroscience to deliver cutting edge research that has the potential to transform people’s lives. The Centre hosts research facilities in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Southampton, and provides postgraduate research training opportunities for students on our Doctoral Programmes in Clinical Psychology (DClin), Educational Psychology (DEdPsyc), MSc Foundations in Clinical Psychology, Academic Fellowships in Psychiatry (ACF) and CBT courses.

Group Overview

CiMH research is focused around three themes:

  1. Developmental and Applied Psychopathology.
  2. Therapeutic Innovation Across the Life Span.
  3. Clinical and Affective Neuroscience.
Image of themes
Focusing on three distinct themes


Our research is supported by research grants from major UK and International funders, including: Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, EU-FP7, pharmaceutical industry and charitable partners.

CiMH - Developmental Laboratory

The developmental laboratory is made up of a range of professionals and academics, including developmental psychologists, child psychiatrists, as well as clinical and educational psychologists.  Research in our group focuses on the identification of basic risk and resilience mechanisms that inform our understanding of development and developmental outcomes in typical populations of children and adolescents, as well as those diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental (including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Tourette’s Syndrome), or mental health disorder (anxiety and depression).  In addition, we aim to identify commonalities and differences between comorbid developmental disorders.  Research in the group is closely allied to work in CAN through its focus on pathogenesis and feeds into the TIAL theme by identifying new treatment targets and potential mechanisms that represent the focus for treatment in development.

Our research programmes utilise diverse methodological approaches (cognitive, neuropsychological, neurobiological, epidemiological, meta-analyses, qualitative) and research designs (longitudinal and experimental) to consider the role of childhood environmental experience on cognitive, social and academic outcomes in neurodevelopmental disorders and mental health conditions.

Specific projects focus on:

Understanding the correlates and impact of environmental risk:

  • Understanding social, emotional and behavioural development following early institutional rearing
  • Investigating family relationships as contexts for understanding developmental outcome and intervention
  • Identifying risk and protective factors in displaced and refugee families

Identifying neurological and cognitive risk mechanisms:

  • Exploring the neural basis of Tourette's syndrome
  • Investigating premonitory urges and attentional processes as drivers of tics
  • Developing cognitive frameworks of attention in childhood and adolescent anxiety

Exploring risk and resilience in comorbid disorders in children and adolescents:

  • Exploring the association between ADHD and somatic conditions using large population based samples
  • Using eye movement indices to explore cognitive and behavioural risk in comorbid ADHD and anxiety
  • Understanding the impact of the treatment on comorbid ADHD on obesity outcome in children and adolescents

Understanding the impact of childhood and adolescent disorders in education

  • Developing research priorities in education for children and young people on the autism spectrum via the Autism Community Research Network at Southampton (ACoRNS)
  • Investigating the role of cognitive and motivational factors on educational achievement in anxiety in children and adolescents
  • Measuring neurophysiological indices of emotional dysregulation in typically developing children and adolescents and young people diagnosed with ASD to understand experience in school

Developing effective intervention and prevention methods:

  • A synthesis of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments of ADHD and related disorders via advanced meta-analytic techniques (e.g., network meta-analysis).
  • Developing interventions to improve outcomes for children and young people diagnosed with ADHD and to support the parent-child relationship
  • Linking the cognitive and behavioural phenotype of anxiety to inform the development of interventions for mental health difficulties in children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD

Therapeutic Innovation Across the Life Span

Therapeutic Innovation Across the Life Span focuses on the generation of research grounded in basic science and its translation into applied research that promotes therapeutic innovation across the life span. The focus is broad incorporating i) early identification and assessment, ii) innovative therapeutic interventions (behavioural, cognitive, parent-focused, and pharmacological) for conditions in infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood, including persistent, complex and difficult to treat disorders, and iii) evaluating health technologies to enhance the effectiveness of existing treatments. We are conducting trials across all phases of therapeutic development– ranging from experimental and proof of concept studies to large scale-multi-centre trials.

Research priorities include –

  • Identification, and prevention, of childhood conditions in infants and children at high risk through screening and psychological interventions (including parent training and cognitive training).
  • Experimental investigations of the role of imagery in cognitive models of disorder.
  • Imagery-based interventions for mood disorders, anxiety and paranoia. 
  • Psycho-social interventions for difficult to reach and treat populations (e.g. homeless, prisoners, alcohol misuse).
  • Treating repetitive patterns of negative thinking across disorders (e.g. mindfulness-based interventions).
  • Evaluating the therapeutic potential of novel pharmacological drug targets using healthy volunteer models.
  • The assessment and treatment of adult ADHD.
  • On-line delivery of assessment and treatment.  

Promoting ‘recovery-based practice' in NHS Trusts across England to prioritise personal as well as clinical outcomes for people with serious mental ill-health

Clinical & Affective Neuroscience

Clinical & Affective Neuroscience (CAN) combines advanced experimental methods in neuroscience (i.e., structural and functional neuroimaging, electroencephalography, transcranial stimulation), psychophysiology (autonomic markers) and psychopharmacology to identify brain systems that i) increase risk and resilience to mental illness (in collaboration with DAPs) and ii) reveal novel therapeutic treatment targets (in collaboration with TIALS). Research priorities include –

  • Identifying neuropsychological treatment targets in mental health and neuropsychiatric conditions.
  • Predicting treatment response with neuropsychological and biological markers, and computational models.
  • Developing translational experimental medicine models for pharmacological treatment development (e.g. carbon-dioxide experimental model of anxiety).
  • Understanding inflammatory mechanisms in the aetiology and treatment of mood and anxiety disorders.
  • Bio-psycho-social models of mental health conditions and comorbid alcohol misuse.
  • Evaluating the effects of transcranial brain stimulation (e.g. direct-current stimulation) on neuropsychological function and emotion, and as adjunct treatments.

Research Staff

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