Bienvenue sur le site de l’Unité INSERM 1000

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Institut Inserm de rattachement : Neurosciences, Neurologie, Psychiatrie


Over the past 4 years, researchers of our unity have studied psychiatric disorders and addictions with a high prevalence and social cost. They used magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography in the Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot (SHFJ), Orsay, in collaboration with a network of psychiatrists within the Paris area, or data transfers from North Europe research teams.

Brain images in patients severely impaired and effects of treatments on brain function were studied.


During the last decade, our laboratory has described brain abnormalities in depression, schizophrenia, and autism, using non-invasive multimodal brain imaging techniques in adults. Over the past 5 years, the we focused on the multimodal brain imaging features of psychiatric conditions with a developmental component. We extended our activities to cohorts of typically developing juveniles, to individuals at risk for mood disorders and addiction, and abnormalities of the social brain in autism.

At-risk behaviours in adolescents: We reported that early deviations in the adolescent brain are a risk factor not only for drug abuse, but also for mood disorders. Indeed, the mediation of transition risk for mood disorders involves circumscribed brain regions during early adolescence. Our unit is the first to use a longidudinal design in at-risk adolescents to demonstrate variations in the ventromedial prefrontal, striatum and cingulate regions and in the microstructure of the adjacent white matter tracts. Further, we reported that these changes bear a prediction value in individuals. This should foster new intervention designs for targeted prevention.

These informations contributed to the rationale cited in a bill to the French National Assembly (13 février 2013, proposition de résolution 716). Recently, the information gathered in our unit on the adolescent brain, emotion dysregulation, and transition to mood disorders, highlighting the vulnerability of neuro-affective systems in early adolescents, fueled the rationale to stratify the age of protection in adolescence in a law adopted by the French parliament, loi n° 2018-703 du 3 août 2018.

Neuromodulation of superior temporal cortex modifies a modelized social behaviour. Eye-tracking research platform was set up in our laboratory, dedicated to children and adults with TD and with ASD. We demonstrated that transitory inhibition of the right posterior superior temporal region with rTMS decreased the gaze social perception. This finding paves the way for future cognitive – behavioral research on interventions and neuromodulation for personalized remediation in ASD.

Correlation between dopamine regulation and regional function correlated with the neural response in a core region of the reward system, despite the heterogeneity of the psychiatric disorders examined.

Brain structure abnormalities were detected in pharmaco-resistant depression (TRD), 

Brain changes during Withdrawal of cocaine addiction were investigated during therapeutic trial In collaboration with the addictology department of Paul Brousse Hospital.

Prospects for the years to come

 Research will involve clinical departments in Paris Descartes / Paris Centre University (e.g. radiopaediatry in Necker hospital; adult, child and adolescent psychiatry departments), in Paris Sud University (e.g. addictology), and in Orsay hospital.

  1. Risk factors.The laboratory coordinates an international consortium Eranet-Neuron targeting adolescent neurocognitive processes in depression to promote intervention response :

    At-risk adolescents, young adults, and patients hospitalized for disorders tacking on emotional dysregulation or addiction will be investigated with respect to developmental databases. 

    Since some mental disorders might be linked with measurable changes in brain structure development, investigations will focus on young subjects with autism spectrum disorder, or at risk for affective disorders, or for addictions (e.g. binge drinking). This objective will be pursued through joint research projects with teams experienced in genomics or epidemiology, in order to tackle relationships between neuroimages and genetic variables.

  2. Pharmaceutics & drug response. Objective brain descriptors of drugs effects will be searched . Based on our experience of controlled therapeutic trials involving imaging patients with depression or schizophrenia.

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