Currently, our research topics are mainly in 3 fields: 1. Clinical neuroimaging and neurophysiology, particularly using MRI and NIRS; 2. Epidemiology focused on adolescence; and 3. Mental health-related stigma. All of the research topics are also investigated as part of domestic and international collaborative study projects.
1. Clinical Neuroimaging and Neurophysiology
Although the causes of mental illness and mental health problems have not been fully established, impairment of brain function is thought to be one of the causes. We intend to investigate the pathology of mental illness and the development of biological markers in clinical settings using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).
The onset and prognosis of mental illness are known to be associated with various environmental factors such as low birthweight, parental divorce, traumatic experiences, and bullying. Recent cohort studies have shown that these features are seen in individuals who have subthreshold psychological symptoms. Recent biological cohort studies using MRI are noted, and we are now assessing a variety of measurements for 3,000 general-population adolescents and their parents, and using MRI to measure brain structure and function for more than 600 participants (Tokyo TEEN Cohort).
3. Mental Health-related Stigma
Stigma is a negative consequence of ignorance, prejudice, and discrimination, which causes negative changes in people’s behavior and in society. Mental health-related stigma is a major social problem, its improvement may affect improvements in the prognoses for people with mental health problems. Although several strategies are proposed, there is still a scarcity of evidence. We are administering a ‘Research Group for Evidence-Based Anti-Stigma Activity’ that intends to conduct stigma research using longitudinal investigations and randomized controlled trials, and provide evidence-based contents to reduce stigma in schools and in the general public.