Brain Sciences


Dr Quentin Huys awarded Wellcome Investigator Award

21 January 2021

Dr Quentin Huys, from the Division of Psychiatry and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, has received a Wellcome Investigator Award to study the neurobiology of maladaptive thinking patterns in people with depression, and how they increase the risk of relapse.

wellcome centre neuroimaging

In England, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem, with depression being one of the most frequent.

Depression is amongst the most burdensome disorders worldwide due to the high risk of relapse. Relapse risk is increased by maladaptive thinking patterns, and by stopping antidepressants, which in turn increases maladaptive thinking patterns.

In the project, Quentin will first study how maladaptive thinking patterns arise and cause emotions. He will do this by asking individuals to perform tasks that evoke emotions while recording their brain activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG). He will then look in the MEG data for signatures of task stimuli to try and understand how what they think about relates to the emotion they report.

In the second part, he will study how psychotherapy and antidepressants influence MEG signatures of maladaptive thinking. Finally, he will examine whether these brain measures predict depression relapses. These studies will use brain imaging and computational modelling to understand how thoughts relate to emotions and establish whether this could help us prevent relapses.

Dr Huys said: “I am most grateful to have been awarded the prestigious Wellcome Trust Investigator Award in Science. After relocating back to UCL from Switzerland, this grant will give me the opportunity to build a research group around the problem which has most intrigued me, namely how neurobiology relates to thinking patterns and thereby shapes the course of mental disorders. I am particularly keen to use this research to attempt to design novel tools that may be useful in the clinic.”

Professor Cathy Price, Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging where Dr Huys will now take up a position as Principal Investigator, added: “We are delighted to congratulate Quentin on being awarded a Wellcome Investigator grant – and joining the executive team for the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging.”

This research project is based on the results of Dr Huys previous research and clinical experience and attempts to advance our understanding of neurobiological processes which are directly relevant to a specific clinical problem – management of depression relapses.