Professor Essi Viding

Talk: Why should neuroscientists studying psychiatric disorders care
about gene-environment correlation?

Much of the neurocognitive research into various psychiatric disorders has been cross-sectional and often focused on affective processes that are atypical in a given disorder. To progress our understanding of how psychopathology develops, we need to combine different analytical approaches within a longitudinal, developmental, genetically informative framework. This can help us understand phenomena of gene-environment correlation.

In this talk I will provide a brief overview of neurocognitive and genetically informative research into conduct problems. I will use this overview as a framework for considering how atypical neurocognitive functioning may serve to generate and maintain maladaptive social interactions. I will argue that neurocognitive studies can inform our understanding of individuals as active agents in the generation of particular social ecologies and that unlocking the mechanisms of gene-environment correlation will be of key importance. Advances in this area of research have scope to inform theoretical understanding, as well as interventions designed to help children at risk of developing a disorder and their families.

Essi Viding is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at UCL where she co-directs the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit. Her research utilises multiple methodologies to investigate different developmental pathways to disruptive behaviour disorders and poor mental health. She has received several prizes for her work, including the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award and the British Psychological Society Spearman Medal. She is a fellow of the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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