David Linden read medicine, classics and philosophy in Germany. He obtained a DPhil from the University of Oxford for his work on medical ethics in antiquity in 2000 and a Dr. med. in neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in 1999. He trained in psychiatry at Frankfurt University and has a special interest in clinical neuropsychiatry and neurodevelopmental genetic syndromes. Since 2011 he has been Professor of Translational Neuroscience at Cardiff University and Head of the Neuroimaging theme group of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics. He is also the director for clinical research at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre. In his research, he applies structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neurophysiological techniques and genetics in order to understand the function of the brain in health and disease. Current research interests include functional imaging of psychopathology, neural substrates of social cognition and decision making, genetic imaging, treatment and training effects on the brain, and neurofeedback. David is the author of “The Biology of Psychological Disorders” (2012), “Brain Control” (2014) and “Neuroimaging and Neurophysiology in Psychiatry” (2016) and over 180 scientific papers in the fields of biological psychiatry, functional brain imaging, visual and social cognitive neuroscience, and neurofeedback. He has coordinated trials of functional MRI-based neurofeedback in depression and Parkinson’s disease. He is also the coordinator of the European Consortium “BRAINTRAIN” (http://www.braintrainproject.eu), funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme, which develops and evaluates imaging-based neurofeedback methods for a range of mental disorders. He is a consultant psychiatrist with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and provides clinics at the Welsh Neuropsychiatric Service, the Cardiff University Psychiatric Service (specialising in neurodevelopmental genetic syndromes) and the Welsh Huntington’s Disease Service. He has been a member of the board of directors of the BNPA since 2014.
The techniques of brain imaging and neurophysiology (both invasive and non-invasive) hold considerable promise for the understanding of human mental processes. One branch of neurophysiology and cognitive neuroscience research is concerned with the inference of particular mental states from neural activation patterns. One of the aims of this research is to identify intentions in patients with severe communication disorders (for example the “locked-in” state). Another proposed application is in the distinction between disorders of consciousness and disorders of communication. Recent advances in the analysis of functional brain images that allow for the classification of mental states also raise the question whether these techniques can be used to underpin psychiatric diagnoses, possibly even support or refute patients’ claim about their own mental states. This talk discusses the clinical promise and also the technical and ethical limitations of these approaches and puts them in the context of the history and future of neuropsychiatry.