My research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms of treatments for depression and anxiety disorders.
To explore these questions we use a variety of techniques such as fMRI, MEG, TMS, psychopharmacological challenge techniques and neuropsychological assessments in healthy volunteers and patients with depression.
This work has led to the novel idea that antidepressants may work by rapidly resolving negative affective bias in depression which leads to gradual improvements in mood, social dysfunction and other key symptoms of depression over time.
This concept has stimulated new research approaches for the treatment of depression with implications for stratification of treatment, early prediction of therapeutic response and identification of novel therapeutic targets.
Professor of cognitive neuroscience at University of Oxford
Adjunct Professor at the Department of Psychology, UiO
Reinecke A, Waldenmaier L, Cooper MJ, Harmer CJ. Changes in automatic threat processing precede and predict clinical changes with exposure-based cognitive-behavior therapy for panic disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2013, 73(11):1064-70
Browning M, Holmes EA, Charles M, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ. Using attentional bias modification as a cognitive vaccine against depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Oct 1;72(7):572-9
Di Simplicio M, Norbury R, Harmer CJ. Short-term antidepressant administration reduces negative self-referential processing in the medial prefrontal cortex in subjects at risk for depression. Mol Psychiatry. 2012, 17: 503-510
Browning M, Holmes EA, Murphy SE, Goodwin GM, Harmer CJ. Lateral prefrontal cortex mediates the cognitive modification of attentional bias. Biol Psychiatry. 2010, 67:919-25.
McCabe C, Mishor Z, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ. Diminished neural processing of aversive and rewarding stimuli during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment. Biol Psychiatry. 2010, 67:439-45.
Harmer CJ, O'Sullivan U, Favaron E, Massey-Chase R, Ayres R, Reinecke A, Goodwin GM, Cowen PJ. Effect of acute antidepressant administration on negative affective bias in depressed patients. Am J Psychiatry. 2009, 166:1178-84.
Harmer CJ, Goodwin GM, Cowen PJ. Why do antidepressants take so long to work? A cognitive neuropsychological model of antidepressant drug action. Br J Psychiatry. 2009, 195: 102-8
Harmer CJ, Mackay CE, Reid CB, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM. Antidepressant drug treatment modifies the neural processing of nonconscious threat cues. Biol Psychiatry. 2006, 59:816-20.
Hayward G, Goodwin GM, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ. Low-dose tryptophan depletion in recovered depressed patients induces changes in cognitive processing without depressive symptoms. Biol Psychiatry. 2005,57:517-24.
Harmer CJ, Shelley NC, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM. Increased positive versus negative affective perception and memory in healthy volunteers following selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibition. Am J Psychiatry. 2004,161:1256-63.
- Aker, Martin; Bø, Ragnhild; Harmer, Catherine; Stiles, Tore C & Landrø, Nils Inge (2015). Inhibition and response to error in remitted major depression. Psychiatry Research. ISSN 0165-1781. 235, s 116- 122 . doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.11.038
- Jonassen, Rune; Chelnokova, Olga V; Harmer, Catherine; Leknes, Siri & Landrø, Nils Inge (2015). A single dose of antidepressant alters eye-gaze patterns across face stimuli in healthy women. Psychopharmacology. ISSN 0033-3158. 232(5), s 953- 958 . doi: 10.1007/s00213-014-3729-5
- Jonassen, Rune; Hilland, Eva; Harmer, Catherine; Berge, Torkil; Maglanoc, Luigi Angelo; Kraft, Brage; Stiles, Tore Charles; Haaland Øksendal, Vegard & Landrø, Nils Inge (2016). Attention bias modification reduces symptom severity in Major Depression. Preliminary analysis from an ongoing longitudinal RCT study.