Investigating neuropsychological mechanisms and antidepressant efficacy
Since antidepressant drugs were first discovered in the 1950s, research has sought to understand how their pharmacological effects translate into clinical benefits. These questions still remain unanswered but the recent discovery that the NMDA antagonist, ketamine, has rapid and sustained antidepressant effects has provided new avenues to explore. In this talk, I will discuss our work investigating possible neuropsychological mechanisms which could explain the clinical effects of both conventional delayed and rapid-acting antidepressants. I will specifically focus on the phenomenon of affective bias, when the emotional state of the individual impacts on their cognition. Affective biases are thought to play an important role in the development and perpetuation of major depressive disorder and recent animal and human research suggests that modulation of these biases occurs with antidepressant drugs and psychological interventions. Using our rodent model of affective biases associated with learning and memory we have been able to observe dissociable effects with different classes of antidepressants and now have the opportunity to explore novel drug targets.