Here are the slides for the invited lecture at the University of Sussex, 11/02/2017, entitled “Symptomics: a novel research framework to study mental disorders”.
Abstract: Why has biological psychiatry been unable to identify biomarkers reliably associated with common psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression—despite three decades of intense research efforts? And why do pharmacological treatments only slightly outperform placebo in many controlled trials? Part of the explanation may be that almost all research studies analyze symptom sum scores instead of data on individual psychiatric symptoms. Another explanation is that heterogeneous conditions with blurry boundaries are essentialized and studied as discrete disease types. In this talk I provide an introduction to the new research framework Symptomics, and summarize a number of studies that provide insights into the symptom structure underlying psychiatric diseases, with a focus on major depressive disorder. Symptomics is focused on (1) the analysis of individual psychopathology symptoms and (2) their causal associations in dynamic networks.