Stéphan Eliez Group
Project at a glance
The laboratory seeks to understand the cerebral, cognitive and psychiatric development of youths affected psychiatric disorders.
Specifically, our expertise in children and adolescent psychiatry includes disorders such as schizotypy and schizophrenia, autism, and emerging personality disorders. Our scientific activity is further grounded on expertise in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS), a homogeneous neurogenetic disease that provides the opportunity for longitudinal examination of risk for psychosis. Throughout these projects, we seek to identify endophenotypes related to the unfolding and conversion of these psychiatric disorders.
Over the past 10 years, we have developed and employed a methodology that combines magnetic resonance imaging, experimental and developmental psychology together with psychiatric and psychometric assessments to map developmental trajectories of psychopathology in youths. The pursuit of three cohort studies (22q11DS, schizotypy and autism) has enabled us to examine our multi-factorial dataset using cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Specifically, we include a number of analyses that examine cerebral structure and function, cognitive development and symptomatic expression in our cohort. With regards to structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), our image analysis techniques include parcellation and estimations of regional cerebral volumes, cortical folding and cortical thickness analyses, quantification of white matter characteristics (fractional anisotropy, tractography, and connectome analyses). Using functional MRI, we target cognitive domains known to carry predictive value in the onset of key psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and social cognition impairments. These include face and emotion processing, source memory and self-monitoring as well as cerebral connectivity analysis through resting-states fMRI. Our behavioral protocol includes experimental designs that address executive and memory functions, as well as social cognitive skills using an eyetracking device. Finally, our clinical expertise employs traditional semi-structured diagnostic interviews combined with the most recent psychometric tools designed to assess domains of general psychopathology, prodromal syndromes of psychosis, autism, dimensional measures of psychopathology as well as adaptive behaviors and social adaptation measures.
Our future interests are directed towards the identification, at different stages of the child’s development, of risk and protective factors for the unfolding of these psychiatric disorders. Furthermore, we look to integrate our methodology with other groups investigating endophenotypes at the genetic, molecular and animal model levels of investigations in order to contribute to an integrative neuroscientific model of pediatric psychiatric disorders.