Day 2 – October 16th

Highlights from ECNP 2022

Welcome to Progress in Mind’s live coverage of ECNP 2022. The 35th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology continued today October 16th, 2022, with a packed program of symposia, educational updates, campfire sessions, ePosters and Poster Jam sessions. Topics ranged from schizophrenia, dementia, mood disorders including depression, psychosis, stress and anxiety, to behavioral addictions and autism. Research efforts focused on a better understanding of neurobiology and advancing treatment pathways in psychiatry. Today’s plenary lectures highlighted the growing field of nutritional psychiatry, understanding obesity as a dysfunction of brain circuitry, and the neurobiology of play. Here is a summary of today’s (Day 2) highlights from this super Sunday in Vienna.

Unravelling the cognitive impairment puzzle in schizophrenia

Several symposia considered aspects of schizophrenia management including cognitive dysfunction, holistic medicine and patient-centered care

  • Although highly prevalent, cognitive impairment is not part of the diagnostic criteria of schizophrenia and yet it is among the first signs of illness.1,2
  • The profile of impaired cognitive functioning, as a consequence of mental illness, was examined alongside the link to negative functional outcomes, impact on the individual and consequences for their friends, families and caregivers.
  • A holistic approach to patient care is essential and the benefit of holistic treatment for patients with schizophrenia was explored.
  • Clinical and functional recovery are closely linked in schizophrenia, and non-adherence to antipsychotic medication results in poor outcomes.3,4 The implementation of therapeutic choices tailored to the needs and preferences of individual patients to improve adherence was advised.
  • Patient-centered treatment is a hot topic in psychiatry, and important differences between men and women in terms of treatment needs were identified.

Cognitive impairment is present in almost all patients with schizophrenia from the start of illness and significantly impacts their real-life functioning


Neurobiology of anxiety, cognition and depression

Symposia and educational sessions variously covered interesting subjects in neurobiology and patient management

  • Advances in unravelling the interplay of genetic, environmental and temperamental/coping factors in anxiety and novel approaches to pharmacological treatment.
  • How to manage the beginnings of cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment among older adults, and the risk of developing dementia.
  • Understanding the neurobiology of major depressive disorder and postpartum depression, the burden of sub-optimal treatment and the impact of delayed treatment and symptom resolution.
  • Increased understanding of the neurobiology of behavioral addictions and clinical trials investigating more effective ways to manage substance use disorders in autism.

Sub-optimal or delayed treatment has a detrimental impact on depression and symptom resolution


Research sparks from the fireside

Today’s program included campfire sessions introducing an array of topics covering

  • The neurobiology of psychiatric disorders, exploring social dysfunction exhibited in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s dementia and depression.
  • How identification of microglial subsets may provide novel targets for intervention across neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • How science and clinical practice interact to understand, prevent and treat psychiatric disorders faster and better.
  • The impact of natural and urban environments on cognitive processes and mental health and the role of environmental and sensorimotor structures.

Identification of disease-associated microglia provides novel targets for therapeutic intervention in neuropsychiatric disorders


Plenary lectures on obesity, diet and play

Recipient of the Rising Star Award, Professor Nils Opel, University of Jena, Germany provided insights into obesity-related brain circuit dysfunctions that underlie the association between obesity and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as major depression.

Similarities in patterns of impaired brain structural integrity exist between obesity and major depression

Professor Felice Jacka, Deakin University, Australia discussed the association between diet quality and mental and brain health across the lifespan, and the potential for nutritional interventions in prevention and treatment of mental and neurodegenerative disorders.

Professor Michael Brecht, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany delivered his plenary lecture on play, an important activity but probably the least understood class of all mammalian behaviors.

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.

  1. Keefe RS, et al. Defining a cognitive function decrement in schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 2005;57(6):688–91.
  2. Howes OD & Murray RM. Schizophrenia: an integrated sociodevelopmental-cognitive model. Lancet 2014;383(9929):1677–87.
  3. Higashi K, et al. Medication adherence in schizophrenia: factors influencing adherence and consequences of nonadherence, a systematic literature review. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol 2013;3(4):200–18.
  4. Gorwood P, et al. Predictive factors of functional remission in patients with early to mid-stage schizophrenia treated by long-acting antipsychotics and the specific role of clinical remission. Psychiatry Res 2019;281:112560.
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