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TRAUMA & PSYCHOSIS

Learn more about the Translational Psychiatry Research Group's research in trauma and psychosis.

AIMS

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Advance knowledge on psychosis, and its relationship with trauma.

 

Attain a mechanistic understanding on how trauma induces a vulnerability to mental illness, specifically psychosis.

 

Understand the effects of trauma, particularly developmental trauma, on the brain and cognitive function.

CURRENT RESEARCH

IMPACT

Through IMPACT (Investigating Mechanisms of Psychosis Associated with Childhood Trauma), we are investigating an array of neurocognitive domains – such as reward processing, working memory, and threat processing – to identify candidate vulnerability mechanisms to psychosis. We are specifically exploring the ways in which these domains are affected by experiences of developmental trauma. In doing so, we hope to attain a mechanistic understanding on the specific pathways through which developmental trauma induces a vulnerability to psychosis.

PREVIOUS RESEARCH

Bloomfield, M. A. P., Yusuf, F. N. I. B., Srinivasan, R., Kelleher, I., Bell, V., & Pitman, A. (2020). Trauma-informed care for adult survivors of developmental trauma with psychotic and dissociative symptoms: a systematic review of intervention studies. The Lancet Psychiatry. 

Developmental trauma is associated with an increased risk of psychosis and predicts poor prognosis, however little is known about which treatments work best for survivors of developmental trauma with psychosis. This is the first review, to our knowledge, to study treatments for people with psychotic and dissociative symptoms who have a history of developmental trauma. Our findings of potential  treatment  targets,  including  emotion  regulation,  acceptance,  interpersonal  skills, trauma  re-processing,  and the integration of dissociated ego states, could guide future work in this area, particularly observational and interventional research.

Bloomfield, M. A. P. (2019). Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder: children should be seen and heard. The Lancet Psychiatry.

Experiencing trauma in childhood and adolescence—crucial periods for our developing brains and self-identity—has long been recognised as a risk factor for the development of psychopathology. This editorial discusses current steps and future directions required to support survivors of developmental trauma.

Froudist-Walsh S., Bloomfield M.A.P., Veronese M., Kroll J., Karolis VR., Jauhar S., Bonoldi I., McGuire PK., Kapur S., Murray RM., Nosarti C., Howes O. (2019). The effect of perinatal brain injury on dopaminergic function and hippocampal volume in adult life. eLIFE.

Perinatal brain injuries, including hippocampal lesions, cause lasting changes in
dopamine function in rodents, but it is not known if this occurs in humans. We found dopamine synthesis capacity was reduced in the perinatal brain injury group relative to those without brain injury and the control group. Hippocampal volume was reduced in the perinatal brain injury group relative to controls and was positively correlated with striatal dopamine synthesis capacity. This is the first evidence in humans linking neonatal hippocampal injury to adult dopamine dysfunction, and provides a potential mechanism linking early life risk factors to adult mental illness.

To learn more, browse through our publications.

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