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Neuroscience and genetics of resilience versus anxiety and depression in adult twins

Resilience and optimal mental wellbeing are not simply the absence of mental illness, yet we know very little about its underlying brain mechanisms and genetics. Dr Justine Gatt and Prof Peter Schofield, together with Prof Leanne Williams (Stanford University), are examining the genetics and neuroscience of resilience versus anxiety and depression in a prospective cohort of 1,600 healthy adult twins. We have created a new 26-item scale to measure wellbeing called COMPAS-W (Gatt et al., 2014, Psychiatry Research). We are now assessing cognitive and brain mechanisms that may predict resilience versus mental illness outcomes over time. We are also evaluating the impact of genetic load on these neural mechanisms, and whether there are certain genetic variants that may be protective against illness trajectories. In parallel, we have other studies that are focusing on identifying predictors of anxiety and depression, the role of genetics and environment in these processes, and variation in males and females.