Funding boost for research into improving psychosis treatment outcomes

Wednesday, 03 May 2023

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have been awarded over £700,000 for research into improving treatment outcomes for psychosis.

Cognitive impairment – like memory loss or reduced social perception – is one of the hardest symptoms to measure and manage for people experiencing, or at risk of, psychosis. Nottingham is one of 7 research projects sharing £16.8 million funding from Wellcome to address this.

Psychotic disorders affect around 1% of the population worldwide. They are amongst the most severe and disabling of all mental disorders.

Finding ways to intervene as early as possible is one of the most effective ways to reduce the burden of psychosis.

While psychosis is commonly associated with hallucinations and delusions, one of the most challenging symptoms for people experiencing psychotic disorders is the impact it can have on cognition. This can range from difficulty in identifying emotions in other people to memory loss or challenges with decision-making.

These symptoms often appear well before the first psychotic episode and continue as the condition develops. This can have a severe and disabling impact on someone’s life, impacting their relationships, employment and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

Very few options exist to predict, assess or treat cognitive impairments. Wellcome is funding research that both tests new treatments and explores future opportunities for interventions.

Current interventions aiming to improve cognitive functioning in psychosis are beneficial for some individuals but not others. Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology will be investigating the role of a neurotransmitter called glutamate on treatment outcomes. The team will be investigating if changes in glutamate levels could act as a new marker for cognitive treatment outcomes in individuals with first-episode psychosis. They will measure alterations in brain glutamate levels while participants complete a cognitive task and examine if it can predict changes in cognition.

We are excited to start this project investigating cognitive processes in early psychosis by using new brain imaging techniques. The University of Nottingham provides an excellent environment for this research with the ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging scanner located at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre. Guided by a group of lived-experience experts, this project will be taking the next steps towards developing personalised treatments in mental health conditions.
Dr Claudia Danielmeier, School of Psychology and research lead

Miranda Wolpert, Director of Mental Health at Wellcome said: “We are facing a serious challenge in predicting, assessing and treating cognitive impairments in people with, or at risk of, psychosis. That’s why I am excited we have funded grants that both test new treatments and explore future opportunities for interventions. I am proud to say that all projects will be closely collaborating with individuals who have lived experience in psychosis to co-develop their research, ensuring that their voices and perspectives are central to the research.

Our team is looking forward to working with this diverse portfolio of projects ranging from sleep therapy, virtual reality, pharmacological treatments, transcranial magnetic stimulation to smartphone apps.”

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More information is available from Claudia Danielmeier on

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked in the Top 100 globally and 17th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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