Neuroscience and Mental Health
Neuroscientists at Karolinska Institutet strive to make fundamental discoveries about nervous system function, to teach and train the next generation of scientists and clinicians, and to translate research findings into improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
StratNeuro at KI
The Strategic Research Area Neuroscience (StratNeuro) at Karolinska Institutet, Umeå University and KTH has the mission to integrate clinical and basic research and to foster a new generation of leaders and scientists in translational neuroscience. For researchers and postgraduates interested in what KI has to offer in the field of neuroscience and mental health, StratNeuro is a good place to start.
Interviews and features
Why a higher IQ means a longer life
Having a high IQ at a young age increases the likelihood of leading a long and healthy life. But it’s not just down to genetics. Our cognitive abilities are not static – starting school early, having a long education and physical activity are best for training the brain.
The language of the eyes
You can drown in someone's eyes, or they might burn a hole right through you. The gaze is a shortcut to people's inner world, something researchers try to exploit to learn more about, for example, autism. Read an in-depth article about the language of the eyes from our popular science magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap.
She wants to decode the brain
Sherlock Holmes was an idol when she was a child and her mother suggested the research profession early on. But it was not a straight path to science for Marie Carlén. Today she leads advanced studies on the part of the brain that shapes us as individuals.
She studies rude behaviour at work
Previous studies indicate that rude behaviour at work is a growing problem. Karin Villaume intends to survey the current situation in the Swedish retail trade.
The fragile memory
Do you and your brother have different recollections of which one of you knocked over the Christmas tree when the cat ran away and the Christmas porridge got burnt? Perhaps you are both wrong. This according to researchers who study how we remember our lives.
The reawakening of depression research
The antidepressant ketamine has lead to a reawakening within the field. This according to Johan Lundberg who sees new possibilities to find a cure for one of the world’s most widespread disorders.
When you blow a fuse
Why do some people get angrier than others in the same situation? And why do some people go far beyond the social boundaries, causing harm to others and to themselves? There are no simple answers – but we have talked to some of the people who know the most about aggression.
Exploring the feeling of jealousy
Most people know what jealousy feels like. But science has not given this feeling much attention. There is an almost total lack of research on jealousy in clinical psychology, says researcher Johan Åhlén, who has now started an exploratory study on the subject.
Are you dead tired?
Tiredness can be completely normal or a symptom that turns life into an ordeal. Researchers at KI want to find out more about what happens when our energy runs out.
Can AI be useful to psychologists?
Within psychological treatment, it is important to determine if the patient is receiving the right kind of therapy early on. Viktor Kaldo is set to study if artificial intelligence, AI, can help us with this.
How is the brain affected by culture?
Fredrik Ullén is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and an internationally recognized concert pianist. He is also the Scientific Director of a new centre for Culture, Cognition and Health.
A picture is worth a thousand words
Internal mental images could have a strong influence on our emotions. Emily Holmes is using this knowledge to develop psychological treatments that can reach sufferers of trauma.
Supporting those with chronic pain
Thanks to research by Eva Kosek, there has been an increased understanding of the pain disorder fibromyalgia – and patients today encounter less suspicion.
ADHD and autism
ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis – MS
Obsessive-compulsive disorder – OCD
Treatment for depression
The art of keeping calm
Everyone worries at times, but when thoughts of disaster get the upper hand, it might be a good idea to seek help. Researchers at KI knows how to become a little calmer.
Who do you believe?
A cordial smile and a warm gaze – yep, that’s enough for us to make an immediate assumption that someone is trustworthy. However, some find it easier to trust than others. Researchers are trying to find out why.
Loneliness a danger to our health
Feeling alone is tough, and it also appears to be detrimental to our physical health, possibly to the same extent as smoking. Now, research shows that loneliness can be beaten.
Severe grief can lead to poor health
Deep grief has both mental and physical health consequences for the sufferer that can take decades to heal. People can even die of grief. It is therefore important to try to alleviate the effects of severe grief, something that we in Sweden aren’t particularly good at.
News in neuroscience
Some of our professors in this area
Neuroscientist with an interest in technology
Neuroscientist Ola Hermanson aims to both understand the development of the healthy brain and lay the groundwork for improved treatments for serious diseases. He is also keen to drive technological developments in bioprinting, amongst other areas.
Epigenetics answers questions about multiple sclerosis
Maja Jagodic studies how the disease MS arises and why it affects people so differently. Research at an epigenetic level is appropriate both for understanding the disease and for finding new ways to treat it, she says.
Mapping fundamental brain functions
Evaluating options and making decisions are two of the brain’s most fundamental functions in all animals. Konstantinos Meletis studies brain processes, using new technologies to understand how this works.
Studies language impairment in children and adults
Christina Samuelsson is hoping to make life easier for children and adults with communicative disabilities. Her research ranges from the importance of gestures for children with developmental language disorders to digital conversational support in elderly care homes.
Changing the image of ALS
Much of Fang Fang’s research concerns ALS. Although her background is in epidemiology, she likes to integrate other types of research. In her view, multidisciplinary collaboration is key to understand and, in the long run, to cure the disease.
The power of imagery over the psyche
Emily Holmes is passionate about better psychological treatments based on science. Her research concerns how we think and remember in mental images and developing new treatments based on this knowledge.
Establishing optometric education and research
Rune Brautaset has modernised optometry studies at KI and laid the groundwork for an optometric research environment at the university. He is currently researching how neurodegenerative diseases can be detected in the retina.
Studying neuronal activity in real-time
The prefrontal cortex is the centre for advanced cerebral function – it is here our impressions of the world are formed, plans forged and decisions made. By studying the real-time activity of neurons, Marie Carlén maps the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
Investigating affective learning
When we draw conclusions in our everyday lives, what we learn is often linked to emotions – such as that a particular matter is important, a person has a high status, or that an environment is frightening. Andreas Olsson studies how this learning takes place in social situations.
Changing our view of persistent pain
Living with chronic pain is challenging – not least because of the limited number of good treatments. Camilla Svensson is researching the mechanisms behind persistent pain in rheumatic diseases and how it can be tackled in new, more effective ways.
Insurance medicine and mental disorders
Mental disorders, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, can lead to long-term sick leave – but excessively prolonged sick leave can also aggravate the illness. Ellenor Mittendorfer-Rutz conducts research on the links between mental disorders and social insurance.
Optogenetics to understand complex brain function
Ole Kiehn's research is about understanding how neurons and neural networks operate to generate complex brain function. In his lab, researchers combine electrophysiology and anatomy with molecular mouse genetics, optogenetics and behavioral analyses.
Multisensory mechanisms of body self-perception
Henrik Ehrsson's research is centered on the question of how we come to perceive ownership over our bodies – how visual, tactile and proprioceptive information are combined to obtain a single coherent object that is one's own body.
Combining various kinds of data for more knowledge about MS
Ingrid Kockum is researching into multiple sclerosis, MS, and is leading the major international collaboration MultipleMS. By combining many different types of data, the project will generate increased knowledge on various types of MS.
His findings shed light on MS
Gonçalo Castelo-Branco investigates the cells that produce myelin, the vital insulation that ensheathes our nerve cells. He has made unexpected findings that might help to explain what causes MS and eventually give rise to novel treatments.
Developing online CBT for somatic diseases
Brjánn Ljótsson researches cognitive behavioural therapy , CBT. He has helped to develop and establish online CBT, and researches how CBT can improve the lives of people with physical disease.
Developing online treatments for OCD
Christian Rück is a psychiatrist who researches different types of obsessive-compulsive disorders – both causes and treatments. He has developed Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is currently used in psychiatry in Sweden as well as abroad.
Seeking mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disorders
Eric Westman combines brain imaging with machine learning to search the whole brain for the mechanisms behind neuro-degenerative disorders. An important element of his research is to identify different subtypes of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Noticing patients with obsessive compulsive disorders
Obsessive-compulsive disorder and related conditions are more common than many other mental disorders but have long been neglected by both research and psychiatric care. David Mataix-Cols wants to change that.
Studying the brain's neural code
Gilad Silberberg's research focuses above all on the basal ganglia and how they form the fundamental link between sensory perception and motor function.
Identifying mechanisms of prenatal damage
Sandra Ceccatelli's research aims at identifying mechanisms of prenatal damage in the nervous system that trigger behavioral impairment later in life.