Neuroscience in Mental Health

(15 credits; PSYCG021)


This module will provide students with an introduction to the principles, scope and applications of genetics and other biological research methods currently used in mental health research. The module is organised by the members of the Mental Health Neuroscience Research Department in the UCL Division of Psychiatry. The Head of Department is Elvira Bramon. Active researchers in neuroscience and biological psychiatry will teach all sessions in the module. There is a focus on psychiatric genetics, which is an area of expertise of the department, and crucial in mental health.

Module Leaders

Dr Zuzana Walker

Dr Zuzana Walker is a Reader in the Division of Psychiatry and a lead consultant in the Essex Neurocognitive Clinic which is linked to a number of research projects. Her main areas of research are Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), functional and molecular neuroimaging in subjective and mild cognitive impairment, and new treatments in cognitive disorders and dementia. She has published a number of key papers on neuroimaging of the dopamine transporter in DLB & Parkinson's disease.


Prof Elvira Bramon

Elvira Bramon is a Professor of Neuroscience and Mental health. Elvira investigates biomarkers of psychosis risk and their genetic influences, in particular using EEG to study the genetics of psychosis. She is also interested in pharmacogenetics of psychotropic medications. She works part time as a consultant psychiatrist in psychosis rehabilitation at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

Elvira Bramon_Profile-Pic-List

Vaughan Bell

Vaughan Bell works between UCL as deputy course director and specialist psychosis services in the NHS. He is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist working on understanding the cognitive neuropsychiatry of psychosis.

On Twitter: @vaughanbell

Vaughan Bell

Dr Nick Bass

Nick Bass is a Clinical Senior Lecturer based in the Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory, UCL Division of Psychiatry and honorary consultant old age psychiatrist for the Tower

Hamlets Diagnostic Memory Clinic. He is generally interested in the genetics of human disease but particularly genetic effects on mental disorders. He is involved in a number of projects which aim to improve our understanding of the genetic architecture of intellectual disabilities, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia.

Nick Bass

Module Contents

The module will cover:

  • Genetic research and its relevance for mental disorders. We cover human genetics, bioinformatics, statistical genetics and implications for mental health and disease.
  • Neurophysiology (EEG/ERP/MEG) and neuroimaging (MRI/SPECT/PET) research applied to mental health.
  • Cognitive neuroscience, psychopharmacology of illegal drugs and animal models in mental health.
  • A half-day conference with short presentations showcasing the current research we do in the Mental Health Neuroscience Research Department.

Learning Outcomes

The intended learning outcomes are:

  • Students will demonstrate understanding of genetics and other biological approaches to investigate the aetiology and management of mental health problems.
  • Students will be able to appraise papers on genetics, neuroimaging, cognition and other neuroscience methods applied to mental health research.
  • Students will be able to suggest approaches to test biologically-based hypotheses in mental health research.


Through an essay that covers genetics and other neuroscience methods in mental health.