Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders

The Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders Research Unit - with key researchers at the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Northwest University -  researches anxiety and stress disorders. It is also involved in projects in related fields, including the Drakenstein Neurodevelopmental and Neuro-GAP studies.

Key focus areas

  • Promoting the use of basic science and clinical research to improve the diagnosis, prevention and management of mental disorders in South Africa;
  • Prioritising the risk and resilience factors in mental disorders;
  • Applying clinical evidence to real world settings to improve mental health interventions through primary healthcare and community initiatives;
  • Adding to existing research on mental disorders and mental health to benefit South Africans - and Africans;
  • Developing new research programmes focused on studies that can be applied in real world settings;
  • Working with other organisations and groups to address major mental disorders in Africa;
  • Training and supporting Clinician Scientists who specialise in mental disorders and mental health; and
  • Promoting the use of psychiatry and mental health research findings in policy-making and in practice.

I. Clinical & Genetics/neurobiological projects // kliniese & genetiese/neurobiologiese ondersoeke
All of the projects include extensive clinical assessments. Some of the projects also involves a genetic component and/or brain imaging.

Neuro-Gap: Genetic Research on Neuropsychiatric Disorders in African Populations // Neuro-Gap: Genetiese navorsing oor neuropsigiatriese steurings in populasies uit Afrika

See, for example: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4634677/

If you want more information, please contact: Prof Dan Stein: email: Dan.Stein@uct.ac.za or Dr Goodman Sibeko: email: goodmansibeko@gmail.com or Dr Shareefa Dalvie: email: DLVSHA006@myuct.ac.za

II. Neuroimaging projects // Projekte wat breinbeelding insluit

Identifying reproducible brain signatures of obsessive-compulsive profiles

This is the first international NIH-funded project aimed at identifying multiple brain networks that play a role in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) using standardized methods. Locally, the work is done at the MRC Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders (Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town), with Profs Christine Lochner en Dan J. Stein taking the lead.  Persons with OCD are invited to participate.

What does participation entail?: For people who qualify for participation, this project entails a comprehensive diagnostic interview, completion of questionnaires, neuropsychological assessment and brain imaging (MRI). Individuals that have participated in a similar (but smaller) research project at this Unit, may participate again.

Is treatment included in this trial?: There is an optional treatment component. Anyone with OCD who completes the parent study, will be eligible for a taking part in a treatment study.  Treatment will entail a 12 weeks open-label trial of a medication approved for use in OCD and follow-up for 12 months.

Who can participate?: Anyone:

  • with OCD or suspicion of OCD,
  • between 18 and 50 years old,
  • who are right-handed,
  • on no psychotropic medication for at least 2-6 weeks (potential participants currently or recently on psychotropics may still be eligible for inclusion if cessation of medication is followed by a long enough washout period; tapering, cessation and resuming of pharmacotherapy will be done under supervision of the treating clinician),
  • and who are physically healthy.

Who cannot participate?: Anyone:

  • with significant physical or neurological illnesses,
  • who are using psychotropic medication,
  • who have metal prostheses, pacemakers or metal clips (which may interfere with MRI),
  • and who are claustrophobic or with intolerance for MRI-investigations.

Whom can I contact for more information?:
Christine Lochner 021 938 9179; cl2@sun.ac.za
Clara Marincowitz 021 938 9654; claram@sun.ac.za
http://www.mrc.ac.za/anxiety/anxiety.htm
http://mentalhealthsa.org.za/research/


Hierdie is die eerste internasionale NIH-befondste projek wat ten doel het om die veelvuldige brein-netwerke wat ʼn rol in obsessief-kompulsiewe steuring (OKS) speel, te ondersoek, deur van gestandaardiseerde metodes gebruik te maak. Plaaslik word die werk by die MRC Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders (Universiteite van Stellenbosch en Kaapstad) gedoen, onder leiding van Profs Christine Lochner en Dan J. Stein.  Persone met OKS word genooi om deel te neem.

Wat behels deelname?: Vir persone wat kwalifiseer vir deelname, behels hierdie projek ʼn volledige diagnostiese onderhoud, invul van vraelyste, ʼn neurosielkundige evaluasie en breinskandering (MRI). Deelnemers wat voorheen aan ʼn soortgelyke projek deelgeneem het, kan weer deelneem.

Is behandeling ingesluit in die projek?: Daar is ‘n opsionele behandelingskomponent. Enigeen met OKS wat by die groter projek ingesluit word, kan hiervoor kwalifiseer. Behandeling behels ‘n 12 week oop-etiket behandeling met ‘n middel wat goedgekeur is vir gebruik in OKS, en opvolg oor 12 maande

Wie kan deelneem?: Enigiemand:

  • met OKS of vermoede van OKS,
  • tussen 18 en 50 jaar oud,
  • wat regshandig is,
  • op geen psigotropiese medikasie vir ten minste 2-6 weke is nie (potensiële deelnemers wat tans of onlangs nog psigotropiese medikasie gebruik het, kan steeds kwalifiseer vir insluiting as staking van medikasie deur ’n lang genoeg uitwas-periode gevolg is; vermindering, staking en hervat van medikasie sal onder supervisie van die behandelende algemene praktisyn of psigiater moet geskied),
  • en wat fisies gesond is.

Wie kan nie deelneem nie?: Enigiemand:

  • met beduidende fisiese of neurologiese siektes,
  • wat psigotropiese medikasie gebruik,
  • wat metaalprosteses; hart-pasaangeërs of metaalknippe het (wat met MRI skandering kan inmeng),
  • en wat kloustrofobies is of intoleransie vir MRI-ondersoeke het.

Wie moet ek kontak vir meer inligting?:
Christine Lochner 021 938 9179; cl2@sun.ac.za
Clara Marincowitz 021 938 9654; claram@sun.ac.za
http://www.mrc.ac.za/anxiety/anxiety.htm
http://mentalhealthsa.org.za/research/

ENIGMA-studies - Enhancing neuroimaging genetics through meta-analysis

The ENIGMA Network brings together researchers in imaging genomics to understand brain structure, function, and disease, based on brain imaging and genetic data.

There are now over 30 active ENIGMA working groups! This refers to the so-called ENIGMA collaboration, particularly ENIGMA-HIV, ENIGMA-OCD and ENIGMA-Anxiety, which is focused on neuroimaging research.

See, for example:
http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/about-2/
http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/ongoing/enigma-ocd-working-group/
http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/ongoing/enigma-hiv-working-group/
http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/ongoing/enigma-anxiety/

If you want more information, please contact: Prof Dan Stein: email: Dan.Stein@uct.ac.za or Dr Nynke Groenewold: email: nynke.groenewold@uct.ac.za.

Press release cortical ENIGMA OCD paper: Dec 2017

Neuroimaging research in social anxiety disorder (SAD) // Breinskandering-navorsing oor sosiale angssteuring (SAS)

Stellenbosch University is conducting neuroimaging research in social anxiety disorder (SAD)

Brain imaging research in the past has largely been focused on looking at regional differences in activity in the brain. So for example, researchers demonstrated that in the brains of people with SAD, there might be more activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain involved in anxiety) than would be expected in people without the disorder. While this work remains important, such regional differences only represent part of the picture!

Functional connectivity research is a recent method of brain analysis that allows scientists to examine how multiple, widespread connections in the brain result in these regional differences in activity. Groups of these connections form what are known as ‘neural networks’ and several of such networks have so far been detected. There is some evidence that one network in the brain (called the default mode network) may play a role in how social information is processed (social information includes our perceptions and thoughts about other people and how they perceive us).

We are interested in networks in the brains of SAD sufferers and whether they differ from those without the disorder. We want to investigate whether network differences can be linked to how people with SAD process social information. We also want to see the effect of treatment (using an established treatment for SAD – moclobemide) on these networks.

The project has been ongoing since 2015, and is progressing well.

All participants undergo two types of brain scan (FDG PET/CT and fMRI) and a series of psychological tests. SAD volunteers then receive an 8-9 week course of moclobemide followed by repeat testing and scanning. Excluding the initial (screening) visit, SAD participants attend 8 study visits over the course of 9 weeks, while healthy volunteers (without SAD) attend 4 study visits over the course of 1-2 weeks. Participants are reimbursed for their food and travel costs.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Between the ages of 18 and 55
  • Fluent in English (the psychological tests are only available in English)
  • Right-handed (left-handed people’s brains are different)
  • Not pregnant or breastfeeding
  • No dominant psychiatric conditions other than Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD participants)
  • No significant psychiatric conditions at all (volunteers without SAD)
  • Not currently on any medications for a psychiatric condition, or willing to temporarily interrupt medications to participate in the study.
  • A few other medications might interfere with the study: the study doctor will check this provided you meet the other criteria.
  • No previous or current medical conditions that directly affect the brain, (including previous head injury with loss of consciousness or brain surgery), no metal implants in the skull, no diabetes (affects the scan)
  • Able to lie still in a scanner for up to an hour at a time

If you suspect you have SAD or have been diagnosed with SAD and are interested in taking part in the study; or if you are willing to volunteer as a healthy control (without SAD), please contact any of the following:

Prof Christine Lochner (cl2@sun.ac.za ): Tel: 021 – 938 9179
Dr Alex Doruyter (doruyter@sun.ac.za): Tel: 021 – 938 5290
Mr Lian Taljaard (liant@sun.ac.za): Tel: 021 – 938 9654


Stellenbosch Universiteit is besig met breinskandering-navorsing oor sosiale angssteuring (SAS).

Wat behels hierdie navorsingsprojek? U het dalk al van neurale netwerke gehoor. ‘Neurale netwerke’ verwys na die manier waarop verskillende dele van die brein saamwerk om spesifieke dinge te doen. Verskillende areas in die brein is byvoorbeeld betrokke by die verstaan van wat ’n mens met sy oë sien. Al dié areas is saam bekend as die ‘visuele netwerk’. ʼn Ander netwerk is dalk betrokke by die manier waarop sosiale situasies verstaan word - bv. die identifisering van ander mense se emosies terwyl jy by ʼn partytjie met hulle praat. Ons vermoed dat hierdie ‘sosiale netwerk’ anders is in mense met SAS en ons wil dit ondersoek. Ons wil ook sien watter effek behandeling van SAS op hierdie netwerk het.

Hoe word die studie gedoen? Ons beplan om twee tipes breinskandering te doen (om die netwerk te bestudeer) asook toetse van sosiale funksie in pasiënte met en sonder SAS. Vir mense met SAS sal ons dieselfde toetse na ’n kursus van behandeling (moklobemied) herhaal om te sien of daar enige verandering was.

Ons benodig vrywilligers met SAS om deel te neem. Met uitsluiting van die aanvanklike (siftings-) besoek, sal SAS vrywilligers 8 studie-besoeke (oor ʼn tydperk van 9 weke) moet bywoon, terwyl vrywilligers sonder SAS 4 studie-besoeke (oor ʼn tydperk van 1-2 weke) moet bywoon. Vrywilligers sal vir hulle kos en reiskoste vergoed word.

Die projek is reeds sedert 2015 aan die gang en vorder fluks.

Kwalifiseer ek? Vir verskeie redes moet u voldoen aan al die onderstaande kriteria om aan die studie deel te neem:

Ouer as 18 jaar

  • Vlot in Engels (vraelyste en video’s is slegs in Engels beskikbaar)
  • Regshandig (linkshandige persone se brein is anders)
  • Nie swanger of borsvoed nie
  • Geen ander psigiatriese toestande (bv. depressie, skisofrenie) behalwe SAS nie (SAS deelnemers)
  • Geen beduidende psigiatriese toestande nie (gesonde vrywilligers)
  • Nie tans op enige medikasie vir 'n psigiatriese toestand nie, of is bereid om medikasie tydelik te onderbreek om aan die studie deel te neem.
  • Geen vorige of huidige mediese toestande wat die brein direk beïnvloed nie, (bv. vorige kopbesering met bewussynsverlies of breinoperasies), geen metaal-inplantings in die skedel, geen suikersiekte (diabetes) nie
  • In staat om in 'n breinskandeerder stil te lê vir tot 'n uur op 'n slag

Indien u belangstel (óf as 'n SAS deelnemer óf as 'n gesonde vrywilliger), kontak asseblief enige van die ondersoekbeamptes:

Prof Christine Lochner (cl2@sun.ac.za ): Tel: 021 – 938 9179
Dr Alex Doruyter (doruyter@sun.ac.za): Tel: 021 – 938 5290
Mnr Lian Taljaard (liant@sun.ac.za): Tel: 021 – 938 9654

Gambling disorder and methamphetamine ("tik") use disorder (MUD) // Dobbelsteuring en metamfetamien ("tik-") gebruiksteuring

A project on gambling disorder and methamphetamine (“tik”) use disorder: (MUD)

Do you suffer from gambling disorder (also known as compulsive or pathological gambling) or do you use methamphetamine (“tik”) regularly? You can take part in an important new study on these conditions that is conducted by the SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town.

The study covers many aspects of these conditions – symptoms, illness severity and impact on the quality of life, while also looking at genetics and the structure of certain brain regions that are implicated.

Gambling disorder (GD) is characterized by the inability to resist gambling despite severe disruption to work, social and family life. Individuals with GD may continually chase their losses, hide their behaviour, tell lies about where they go, how much they spend or owe, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to continue gambling. There is no single known cause of GD, but there is evidence suggesting involvement of both genetic and environmental factors.
“Tik” is highly addictive and one of the most common drugs used in the Western Cape. Chronic tik abusers show symptoms that can include violent behaviour, anxiety, confusion and sleep disturbances. They can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, “hearing voices” (auditory hallucinations), mood disturbances and disturbed thinking (i.e. “delusions”, e.g. the sensation of insects creeping on the skin, called "formication"). MUD is also accompanied by functional and molecular changes in the brain.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Should be between 18 and 65 years old
  • Right-handed
  • Diagnosed with or suspect they have one of the above conditions
  • Preferably not be on any chronic psychiatric medication at the time of participation

What does participation involve?
3 sessions:

  1. Undergoing a screening interview and diagnostic assessment, filling out of self-report questionnaires and taking a blood sample for genetic analysis.
  2. If suitable for the study, participants undergo brain scanning during the next session.
  3. Completion of a number of computerised and paper-and-pen brain tasks.

Participation is cost-free.
This is not a treatment study. However, if you are interested in treatment, options will be discussed with you, and referral arranged.

If you want more information or want to participate, please contact:
Prof Christine Lochner, tel: 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za


‘n Projek oor dobbelsteuring en metamfetamien (“tik-“) gebruiksteuring

Ly u aan dobbelsteuring of gebruik u gereeld “tik”? U kan deelneem aan ‘n belangrike nuwe navorsingsprojek van die SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders.

Die projek dek verskeie aspekte van hierdie toestande, insluitend die simptome en erns daarvan, die impak op persone se lewenskwaliteit, en sluit ook ondersoeke na die genetiese onderbou en die struktuur en werking van sekere brein-areas wat betrokke kan wees by hierdie toestande in.

Kwalifiseer ek? Vir verskeie redes moet u voldoen aan al die onderstaande kriteria om aan die studie deel te neem:

  • Tussen 18 en 65 jaar oud
  • Vlot in Engels (vraelyste en video’s is slegs in Engels beskikbaar)
  • Regshandig
  • Verkieslik nie tans op enige psigiatriese medikasie nie, of is bereid om medikasie tydelik te onderbreek om aan die studie deel te neem.
  • Voldoen aan ʼn diagnose van dobbelsteuring of metamfetamien (“tik-“) gebruiksteuring

3 sessies:

  1. ‘n Volledige siftings- en diagnostiese onderhoud, met selfrapporteringsvraelyste en die trek van bloed vir genetiese analise.
  2. Indien iemand kwalifiseer om deel te neem, word ‘n breinskandering gedoen.
  3. Voltooiing van ‘n aantal rekenaar-gebaseerde en papier-en-pen take.

Deelname is gratis en persoonlike inligting sal streng vertroulik hanteer word.

Dit is nie 'n behandelingstudie nie. Indien u belangstel in behandeling, sal opsies bespreek kan word en ‘n verwysing kan gereël word.

Vir meer inligting, kontak:
Prof Christine Lochner, tel: 021 – 938 9179, e-pos: cl2@sun.ac.za

Obsessive-compulsive and hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania) // Obsessief-kompulsive steuring (OKS) en haar-uittreksteuring (trichotillomanie)

A project on obsessive-compulsive and hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania)

This is an important clinical, genetics and brain-imaging study conducted by the SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders in conjunction with researchers at Cambridge University in the UK. The study covers clinical aspects of these disorders – symptoms, illness severity, impact on the quality of your life, treatment history and childhood trauma history, while also looking at genetics and the structure of certain brain regions implicated in these conditions.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)? In DSM-IV (which is one of the major diagnostic tools used in practice), OCD was categorized as one of the anxiety disorders. In DSM-5 however, OCD now falls under a grouping of obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. OCD is a psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are persistent, “self-generated” (i.e. not delusional or psychotic) thoughts or mental images that are time-consuming, cause significant distress or functional impairment. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive mental (e.g. counting, repeating words) or behavioural (e.g. hand-washing, checking) acts that the person feels obliged to perform in an attempt to reduce the anxiety or distress or to prevent some dreaded event. However, compulsions are not inherently enjoyable, are often extremely time-consuming and do not result in the completion of a useful task.

What is hair-pulling disorder (HPD)? HPD is also now categorized as an obsessive-compulsive related disorder. It is characterized by recurrent pulling out of one’s hair resulting in hair loss, with repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair-pulling. The hair-pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

How prevalent are these disorders in SA? OCD, together with other mental disorders like HPD, account for the 2nd largest portion on our national burden of disease after HIV/AIDS. The causality or “working” of these conditions is not yet fully established. It can therefore be argued that it is necessary to do research on disorders such as OCD and HPD, so that the symptomatology and the neurobiological underpinnings can be better understood and that improved treatments can be found.

Who can volunteer?

  • Volunteers who are right-handed and aged between 18 and 65 years
  • Persons with OCD or HPD
  • First-degree relatives of persons diagnosed with OCD
  • Healthy controls

How will it work? Participation involves attendance of 2 sessions, with the first session comprising of a screening interview, filling out of self-report questionnaires and taking a blood sample for genetic analysis. If suitable for brain imaging, participants are scanned during a subsequent session. Participants also complete a number of neuropsychological tasks in the form of computerized games. Participation is cost-free and participant information will be kept confidential.

Who to contact to take part? If you want more information or want to participate, please contact: Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za or Me Clara Marincowitz 021 – 938 9654, e-mail: claram@sun.ac.za.


‘n Projek oor obsessief-kompulsive steuring (OKS) en haar-uittreksteuring (trichotillomanie)

Navorsers van die SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders is steeds op soek na vrywilligers om deel te neem in ‘n kliniese, genetiese brein-beelding studie oor OKS en haar-uittreksteuring (trichotillomanie).

Drie “tipes” vrywilligers word benodig vir deelname:

  1. Regshandige persone (tussen die ouderdomme 18 en 65 jaar) gediagnoseer met OKS;
  2. Regshandige persone (tussen die ouderdomme 18 en 65 jaar) gediagnoseer met haar-uittreksteuring (trichotillomanie);
  3. Gesonde regshandige eerste-graad familie (tussen die ouderdomme 18 en 65 jaar) van persone gediagnoseer met OKS.

Deelname behels bywoning van 3 sessies. Die eerste sessie bestaan uit ‘n onderhoud, die invul van vraelyste en die neem van’ n bloedmonster vir genetiese analise.

Indien die persoon kwalifiseer, sal die daaropvolgende twee sessies ‘n breinskandering en ‘n aantal neurosielkundige take op ‘n rekenaar insluit.

Die studie sluit nie behandeling in nie maar verwysings kan op versoek gereël word.

Deelnemer-inligting sal vertroulik gehou word.

As u meer inligting wil hê, kontak:
Prof Christine Lochner 021-938 9179, e-pos: cl2@sun.ac.za of Me Clara Marincowitz 021 938 9654; claram@sun.ac.za

Parkinson’s disease // Parkinson se siekte

A project on Parkinson’s disease (PARK)

This is an important clinical, genetics and brain-imaging study conducted by the SA MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders. The study is linked to work on impulsivity and compulsivity (where we focus on obsessive-compulsive disorder and trichotillomania).

We need the participation of right-handed persons (between the ages of 18 and 65 years) who has been diagnosed with PARK.

How will it work? Participation involves attendance of 3 sessions, with the first session comprising of a screening interview, filling out of self-report questionnaires and taking a blood sample for genetic analysis. If suitable for brain imaging, participants are scanned during a subsequent session. Participants also complete a number of neuropsychological tasks in the form of computerized games. These sessions can be exhausting, and researchers will be on the look-out for signs of fatigue. Participation in even just one aspect of the above, is still of worth to the researchers.

The study does not include treatment but referral to suitable clinicians can be arranged if requested.

Participation is cost-free and participant information will be kept confidential. Travel expenses will be reimbursed as far as possible.

Who to contact to take part? If you want more information or want to participate, please contact: Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za or Ms Clara Marincowitz 021 – 938 9654, e-mail: claram@sun.ac.za  for more information.


‘n Projek oor Parkinson se siekte (PS)

Navorsers van die SA MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders is steeds op soek na vrywilligers om deel te neem in ‘n kliniese, genetiese brein-beelding studie oor PS. Hierdie projek sluit aan by die werk oor impulsitiweit en kompulsiwiteit (waar daar ook gefokus word op obsessief-kompulsiewe steuring en trichotillomanie).

Ons benodig die deelname van regshandige persone (tussen die ouderdomme 18 en 65 jaar) wat met PS gediagnoseer is.

Deelname behels bywoning van 3 sessies. Die eerste sessie bestaan uit ‘n onderhoud, die invul van vraelyste en die neem van’ n bloedmonster vir genetiese analise. 

Indien die persoon kwalifiseer, sal die daaropvolgende twee sessies ‘n breinskandering en ‘n aantal neurosielkundige take op ‘n rekenaar insluit. Omdat baie hiervan uitputtend kan wees, sal die navorsers sensitief wees vir die behoeftes van die deelnemers. Deelname aan selfs net een aspek sal van waarde wees.

Die studie sluit nie behandeling in nie maar verwysings na gepaste klinici kan op versoek gereël word.

Deelnemer-inligting sal vertroulik gehou word. Deelname is gratis. Vervoerkostes van deelnemers sal sover moontlik gedek word deur die navorsers.

As u meer inligting wil hê, kontak:

Prof Christine Lochner 021-938 9179, e-pos: cl2@sun.ac.za of Me Clara Marincowitz 021 – 938 9654, e-pos: claram@sun.ac.za.

III. Intervention/clinical trials // Intervensies/kliniese proewe

Cognitive training in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) // Kognitiewe opleiding of onderrig ("cognitive training") vir persone met obsessief-kompulsiewe steuring (OKS)

Cognitive training in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD is a condition that is known to be associated with problematic functioning of certain regions of the brain. One such problem relates to a concept called “working memory”. Working memory is linked to a person’s control over his/her thoughts and behaviour. Research suggests that greater activation of specific parts of the brain is associated with improved working memory, and thus improved self-control. This study involves a simple “brain game” (i.e “cognitive training” with the so-called n-back working memory task) that trains this specific part of the brain, to test whether this method can improve self-control in people with OCD.

What will your responsibilities be?
In order to participate, you need to have a Smartphone on which the study application will be loaded. If you do not, cognitive training would have to be provided by the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health on a loan phone which you will be responsible for. You will undergo a comprehensive screening interview with a clinical psychologist to see whether you qualify for participation. The interview also includes the assessment of OCD symptoms and severity.

If you do qualify for participation, you will be asked to do the following things:

  1. Attend a screening procedure at Tygerberg Medical School.
  2. Attend one session at the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town where you will:
    1. Have the study procedures explained to you in detail,
    2. Be given a brain scan that will take about 1 ½ hours, and
    3. Be asked to answer questionnaires on impulsivity, anxiety, depression and self-regulation.
  3. Engage in cognitive training (i.e. the n-back working memory task) daily for 8 weeks (i.e. 20 sessions, Monday to Friday) on the Smartphone App at home.
  4. The task will also be fully explained to you by instructions provided on the App. You are required to concentrate and respond at the appropriate moment as explained by the instructions.
  5. You will be required to email your data file to the researcher daily by activating an icon which will be available on the App.
  6. Another brain scan that will take about 1 ½ hours post-training, and
  7. Attend a post-training interview to assess change in your OCD profile, brain scan and change in neuropsychological functioning.

Will you benefit from taking part in this research?
Based on results from previous research in other psychiatric disorders, we know that it is highly likely that doing brain training in this way will alter the way your brain functions, in a healthy way, so that you can use more self-control to decrease obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. If this can be proven, your participation will help to increase the number of possible effective treatment options for patients with OCD.

Will you be paid to take part in this study and are there any costs involved?
We will provide a Pick n Pay food voucher to the value of R150 at the end of the 8 week cognitive training period.

If you want more information or want to participate, please contact: Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za or Ms Clara Marincowitz 021 – 938 9654, e-mail: claram@sun.ac.za


Kognitiewe opleiding of onderrig (“cognitive training”) vir persone met obsessief-kompulsiewe steuring (OKS)

Ons het onlangs met 'n nuwe projek, wat 'n behandelingskomponent insluit, begin. Hierdie studie word gedoen deur die SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders.

Hierdie projek is gebaseer op die bevinding dat die versterking van daardie dele van die brein wat verantwoordelik is vir gefokuste denke 'n positiewe impak het op die regulering van sekere gedragswyses. Versterking van hierdie dele van die brein word bereik deur 'n proses genaamd kognitiewe opleiding (“cognitive training”). Ons is geïnteresseerd om te sien of kognitiewe opleiding van persone met OKS kan help om hul obsessies / kompulsies (d.w.s. problematiese gedrag tipies van OKS) te verminder.

Ons kognitiewe opleidingsprogram maak gebruik van 'n taak wat die “n-back” genoem word. Hierdie taak maak staat op die geheue, en behels die vordering tot meer uitdagende vlakke. Die taak word gedoen deur 'n aflaaibare toepassing (App) op jou selfoon. Ons is tans besig om die program so aan te pas dat dit versoenbaar is met die meeste selfone. Ons sal u kan bystaan om die program toeganklik te maak, indien nodig.

As u graag wil deelneem, sal u die volgende moet doen:

  1. ‘n Siftings- (diagnostiese) onderhoud by Tygerberg Mediese Skool.
  2. Deelname aan 1 sessie by die Departement van Psigiatrie by die Universiteit van Kaapstad waar:
    1. Deelname en prosedures in detail verduidelik sal word,
    2. ‘n Breinskandering van ongeveer 1h30min sal plaasvind (voor die onderrig begin), en
    3. U gevra sal word om vraelyste oor impulsiwiteit, angs, depressie en selfregulering te voltooi.
  3. Deelname aan die “cognitive training”, daagliks, vir 8 weke (d.i. 20 sessies, Maandag tot Vrydag) op die selfoon-toepassing, by die huis.
  4. Die taak sal in detail aan u verduidelik word.
  5. U sal gevra word om daagliks u “telling” aan die navorsers te stuur (via die selfoon-toepassing).
  6. ‘n Breinskandering van ongeveer 1h30min sal plaasvind (na afloop van die 8 weke van opleiding), en
  7. U sal gevra word om ‘n post-kognitiewe opleiding onderhoud by te woon om enige verandering in u simptome, breinskandering, en neurosielkundige funksionering te bespreek.

Sal u betaal word om deel te neem aan die studie en is daar enige onkoste vir u?
Ons sal ’n Pick ‘n Pay koskoepon ter waarde van R150 aan die einde van die 8 weke kognitiewe opleiding aan u verskaf.

Vir meer inligting, kontak:
Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-pos: cl2@sun.ac.za
Clara Marincowitz 021 938 9654; claram@sun.ac.za

Other studies, including neurodevelopmental projects

There are other ongoing research projects. These include: 1) the World Mental Health-International College Survey (WMH-ICS) project; and 2) the Drakenstein Child Health Study, which includes a wide range of translational neuroscience research relevant to neurodevelopment. 3) This Unit is also strongly affiliated with the Mental Health Information Centre of Southern Africa (MHIC) - see below for more detail.

International Study on Students Health and Wellness // Internasionale Studie oor Studentegesondheid en -welwees

International Study on Students Health and Wellness

Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for mental health problems. This includes, but is not limited to, psychopathologies such as anxiety and mood disorders, substance use and sexual and gender identity disorders. Although in many educational institutions treatment and support services are available, not many students access these. Also, although there is scientific knowledge of current risk factors for mental health problems, there is a lack of evidence-based methods for using this knowledge to identify those at risk and refer them to appropriate services.

This research is part of an international study, headed by Professor Bruffaerts, at Leuven University in Belgium.

This is a four-year longitudinal study at SU and UCT, in which we administer a baseline assessment of lifetime history of risk factors for negative outcomes, such as academic-, mental and health problems to university students during their first year, and then collect follow-up data at the start of each subsequent year (academic years 2-4).

Therefore this collaborative, international research project proposes to examine health and wellness of students at participating institutions and aims to utilize an e-survey to identify (i) university students at risk for mental health problems, (ii) disorders and dysfunctional behaviours that should be targeted by prevention and treatment programs, and (iii) types of mental health / wellness services utilized by students.

If you want more information, please contact: Ms Janine Roos 021 938 9229, e-mail: jroos@sun.ac.za, Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za, or Ms Clara Marincowitz 021 – 938 9654, e-mail: claram@sun.ac.za


Adolessente en jong volwassenes het ‘n verhoogde risiko vir geestesgesondheidsprobleme. Dit sluit psigopatologie soos angs- en gemoedsteurings, middelmisbruik, seksuele- en geslagsidentiteitsprobleme in. Alhoewel daar behandelings- en ondersteuningsdienste by baie opvoedkundige instellings bestaan, maak baie studente nie daarvan gebruik nie. En, alhoewel daar wetenskaplike kennis bestaan oor die risikofaktore vir geestesgesondheidsprobleme, is daar ‘n tekort aan wetenskaplik-bewese metodes om hierdie kennis te benut om sodoende hoë-risiko studente te identifiseer en hulle na toepaslike dienste te verwys.

Hierdie navorsingstudie is deel van ‘n internasionale studie onder leiding van Professor Bruffaerts van Leuven Universiteit in België.

Dit is ‘n vier-jaar longitudinale studie by die Universiteite van Stellenbosch en Kaapstad, waar ‘n basislyn assessering gedoen word by eerstejaar universiteitstudente oor ‘n geskiedenis van risikofaktore vir negatiewe uitkomste, soos akademiese-, gesondheids- en geestesgesondheidsprobleme. Hierna word data aan die begin van elke daaropvolgende jaar (akademiese jare 2-4) ingesamel.

Hierdie gesamentlike, internasionale navorsingsprojek poog om die gesondheid en welwees van studente by deelnemende universiteite te ondersoek en ʼn e-opname te gebruik om die volgende te identifiseer: (i) universiteitstudente met ʼn hoë risiko vir geestesgesondheidsprobleme, (ii) versteurings en disfunksionele gedrag wat deur voorkomings- en behandelingsprogramme geteiken behoort te word, en (iii) tipes geestesgesondheids- / welweesdienste wat deur studente benut word.

Indien u meer inligting verlang, kontak: Mev. Janine Roos 021 938 9229, e-pos jroos@sun.ac.za; Prof Christine Lochner 021 938 9179, e-pos cl2@sun.ac.za; of Me Clara Marincowitz 021 938 9654, e-pos claram@sun.ac.za

The Drakenstein Child Health Study // Die Drakenstein Kindergesondheid-studie

See: http://www.paediatrics.uct.ac.za/scah/dclhs

If you want more information, please contact: Dr Annerine Roos 021 – 938 9756, e-mail: aroos@sun.ac.za, Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za or Prof Dan Stein: email: Dan.Stein@uct.ac.za or Dr Nastassja Koen: email: nastassja.koen@gmail.com

The Mental Health Information Centre of Southern Africa (MHIC) // Die Geestesgesondheid Inligtingsentrum van Suidelike Afrika (GGIS)

The MHIC is an important part of the SU/UCT MRC Unit on Risk & Resilience in Mental Disorders.  It is able to provide a mechanism for recruiting subjects for our protocols, for informing mental health professionals and the public about our research, and for liaising with the increasingly strong consumer lobby that focuses on anxiety disorders and other mental health issues.  It also aims to undertake research on community and clinician's attitudes towards psychiatric disorders including the anxiety disorders.

See: www.mentalhealthsa.org.za

If you want more information, please contact: Mrs Janine Roos 021 – 938 9229, e-mail: jroos@sun.ac.za, Prof Christine Lochner 021 – 938 9179, e-mail: cl2@sun.ac.za or Prof Dan Stein: email: Dan.Stein@uct.ac.za

This unit serves as a central structure providing oversight and coordination of several studies in mental disorders and mental health and will provide the nucleus for the further development of these and for capacity development through training of clinician-scientists. Students, post-doctoral fellows and any others should contact the Unit if interested in our work: tel nr: 021 938 9229; Prof Dan J. Stein: Dan.Stein@uct.ac.za; Prof Christine Lochner: cl2@sun.ac.za.

Director: Prof Dan Stein
Email: dan.stein@uct.ac.za
Co-director: Prof Christine Lochner
Email: cl2@sun.ac.za
For more information, visit the Mental Health Information Centre's Website.