Mood and Anxiety Research in Sussex (MARS)

Upcoming Events


Mood and Anxiety Research in Sussex

A collaboration between the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Sussex and Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Evening Seminar 21 May 2014 (6-8pm)

Sussex Education Centre, Hove, BN3 7HZ

Places are strictly limited and must be booked in advance. Please book your place at:

For further details, please contact: or call 01273 265896


Joint hypermobility and autonomic reactivity: Relevance to the expression of psychiatric symptoms

 Dr Jessica Eccles: Psychiatrist and MRC Clinical Research Fellow, BSMS)

Abstract: Joint hypermobility (double jointedness) is a widespread, poorly recognised variant of collagen.  People with joint hypermobility are overrepresented in panic and anxiety populations by up to 16 times.  Hypermobility is also associated with a variety of stress sensitive medical conditions such as irritable bowel, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  It is also associated with abnormalities in the flight and fright nervous system, typically a condition called PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome), where there is a clear overlap with anxiety disorder.  

The relevance of joint hypermobility to other psychiatric disorders is currently unclear, as are the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning the association with anxiety disorders. We have demonstrated that hypermobile individuals have differences in brain structure of emotionally relevant regions, e.g amygdala.  We also have recently conducted a study in 400 Sussex Partnership patients demonstrating high rates of hypermobility consistently in almost every disorder except schizophrenia.  Particularly of note is the high rate amongst patients with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Conditions.  Further work, including autonomic testing and functional MRI will attempt to delineate neurobiological mechanism.


The pros and cons of the restless mind

Dr Cristina Ottaviani: Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome

Mind wandering has been defined as the brain’s default mode of operation and is hypothesized to serve adaptive functions, such as enhanced creativity and problem solving. It is a common experience, however, that this process can become maladaptive, and take the form of repetitive intrusive thoughts. Considering that the ability to adaptively let our mind wander without ruminating or worrying is critical to mental health, this talk aims at unveiling the circumstances in which mind wandering becomes dysfunctional by presenting a series of laboratory and ecological studies on its behavioural, subjective, and psychophysiological concomitants. Understanding when spontaneous thought becomes a maladaptive experience may bridge the gap between basic science and clinical psychopathology, aiding our understanding of stress-related processes contributing to disease vulnerability and the development of strategies for augmenting risk stratification and ad hoc psychotherapeutic interventions