You are here : Home > Research entities > NeuroSpin > Translational and Applicative ... > Psychiatry Team


Psychiatry Team

Published on 28 November 2017

Team Leader: Dr Josselin Houenou


The UNIACT Unit's Psychiatry Team aims to identify markers in neuroimaging of the major chronic mental illnesses in adults: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism.

These three pathologies are frequent; around 700,000 people suffer from bipolar disorder in France, 600,000 schizophrenia and 300,000 autism.

Remember that mental illnesses are the second most important handicap.

One of the objectives of NeuroSpin is to translate the development of new imaging techniques and methods, as well as the models of human pathologies, into progress for patients.

We use for this purpose different brain MRI techniques:

  • diffusion MRI
  • functional MRI
  • anatomical MRI

For these diseases, our objectives are:

  • a better understand of their mechanisms in order to envisage new avenues of treatment;
  • to develop markers allowing a diagnostic and prognostic aid

This team is conducting studies as part of the Fondation FondaMental's network, bringing together several clinical teams and research laboratories to improve treatment, understanding and prevention of mental illnesses.

She is also part of the laboratory of excellence of biological psychiatry "Bio-Psy".

His work is carried out in close collaboration with the various Neurospin laboratories and also with foreign partners in Germany (Pr Michèle Wessa University of Mainz), Ireland (Pr Colm McDonald, Galway University), and in the USA (Pr Mary Phillips, University Pittsburgh) so that the skills specific to each group are shared.

Team members

Psychiatry Team of the UNIACT Laboratory is composed of members of Inserm U955 Equipe 15 (Institut Mondor de Recherches Biomédicales, Créteil, director Pr Marion Leboyer), based in NeuroSpin.

Its members are :
Dr Josselin Houenou, psychiatrist, team leader.

Psychiatrists :
Dr Marc-Antoine d'Albis
Dr François Eric Vederine
Dr Samuel Sarrazin
Dr Emeline Marlinge
Dr Julien Katz
Dr Charles Laidi

Jennifer Boisgontier PhD student
Julia De Souza Queiroz post-
PhD student.

Ongoing projects

  • Exploration of MRI correlates of immuno-inflammation in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are currently increasingly considered to be aggravated by inflammatory, immunological and infectious processes.

We use MRI to study the impact of inflammation and infections on brain anatomy and function in these two diseases.

We have already been able to show a link between immunological response to a very common virus (cytomegalovirus), hippocampal anatomy and memory performance.

If the results of this current study are positive, they will open new therapeutic perspectives by suggesting to act directly on the immunological and inflammatory processes in these patients.

  • Biomarkers of bipolar disorder

We continue to research diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in Neuroimaging of bipolar disorder (White matter alterations in bipolar disorder: potential for drug discovery and development. (2014) Marlinge E, Bellivier F, Houenou J., Bipolar Disord)

We are particularly interested in abnormalities of the cerebral white matter that could cause abnormalities of connectivity (or "synchronization") between different brain areas. These abnormalities are at the origin of the lack of emotional regulation in these patients then depressive or manic relapses.

The ultimate goal is to use brain MRI to help the clinician diagnose bipolar disorder and select the most appropriate treatment. Indeed, for example, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made 10 years after the onset of symptoms, which causes a significant delay in the care and care of these patients. One of the obstacles to early diagnosis is the absence of a laboratory or radiological test to assist in the diagnosis.

  • Study of biomarkers of high-level autism (Asperger syndrome).

The group is currently starting a study in neuroimaging in high-level autism without mental retardation (Asperger syndrome). It is also based on the cohort "Psy-COH" ("Investments of the Future", Cohortes Call for Tenders).

This project aims to understand how changes in anatomy and brain function in patients with Asperger's syndrome are involved in the symptoms and disabilities that these patients experience.