Neuro-cognitive basis of depression and effectiveness of brief psychological interventions


Research Description

In this research project we, first of all, study the neuro-cognitive functions in depressive and non-depressive control participants in order to find possible endophenotypes of depression. These internal but measurable components are aimed to reveal by applying electrophysiological (event-related potential) and eye-tracking experiments. Second, we will measure the effectiveness of brief psychological interventions (based on acceptance and commitment therapy) for depression. Based on two different levels of data, psychological inventory and brain response data, we will describe to whom these interventions would be best suitable. We assume that in the future the endophenotypes of depression may allow the prediction of the course of remission or relapse, and the accurate and cost-effective individual-based tailoring of the most appropriate type of therapy for each patient. The methods we apply in the neuro-cognitive experiments are mostly the same we have applied in the research project “Behavioral and electrophysiological research of visual cognition”.



Leader of the neuro-cognitive group

Dr. Piia Astikainen, PhD


Leader of the clinical group

Professor Raimo Lappalainen


Group members

Dr. Jarkko Hautala, PhD

M.A. Heidi Kyllönen

M.A. Juho Strömmer

M.A. Matti Rantanen

M.A. Elisa Ruohonen

M.A. Xueqiao Li




Professor Jari Hietanen, PhD, University of Tampere, Finland

Professor Fengyu Cong, PhD, Dalian University of Technology, China


Selected publications

Astikainen, P., Cong, F., Ristaniemi, T., Hietanen, J. (2013). Event-related potentials to unattended changes in facial expressions: detection of regularity violations or encoding of emotions? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7:557. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00557 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00557

Astikainen P, Hietanen JK. (2009). Event-related potentials to task-irrelevant changes in facial expressions. Behavioral and Brain Functions 5:30. doi: 10.1186/1744-9081-5-30.

Hietanen, J.K., & Astikainen, P. (2013). N170 response to facial expressions is modulated by the affective congruency between the emotional expression and preceding affective picture. Biological Psychology, 92, 114–124.

Lappalainen, P., Granlund, A., Siltanen, S., Ahonen, S., Vitikainen, M., Tolvanen, A., & Lappalainen, R. (2014). ACT Internet-based vs face-to-face? A randomized controlled trial of two ways to deliver Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for depressive symptoms: An 18-month follow-up. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 61, 43–54. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2014.07.006

Lappalainen, P., Kaipainen, K., Lappalainen, R., Hoffrén, H., Myllymäki, T., Kinnunen, M.-L., . . . Korhonen, I. (2013). Feasibility of a personal health technology-based psychological intervention for men with stress and mood problems: Randomized controlled pilot trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, Research Protocols, 2 (1). doi:10.2196/resprot.2389 Retrieved from http://www.researchprotocols.org/2013/1/e1/



2011–2014: Grant for research project “Effectiveness of a brief psychological intervention for mood disorders: evidence based on psychological and brain measures”, Academy of Finland, 660 000 €, PI Professor Raimo Lappalainen