Developmental Computational Psychiatry Lab

Head: Tobias Hauser

The goal of the developmental computational psychiatry group is to understand why most mental disorders arise during development, and in particular adolescence. We use behavioural tasks, computational modelling and neuroimaging in developing populations and across mental health spectra to address these questions.

In the last two years, we have laid the ground work for in-depth investigations of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying developmental psychiatric disorders. We have developed a new smartphone app, Brain Explorer (, which hosts several different computational child-friendly tasks alongside mental wellbeing assessments. We were able to collect data from thousands of subjects to the show that we can obtain comparable results to traditional experimental studies (cf. Skvortsova & Hauser, 2022). In addition, we have conducted multiple developmental studies to trace the normative development of specific neurocognitive processes, such as hyperoptimism or advice taking (e.g. Moses-Payne et al., 2021; Habicht et al., 2021; Dubois et al, 2022).

A further line of work in the group was to refine and better understand known neurocognitive deficits found in psychiatric disorders. Using computational modelling and novel task designs, we have shown that many cognitive processes, such as exploration, can be further parcellated computationally, and these more fine-grained computational processes can be linked with distinct neurotransmitter systems (Dubois et al., 2021). Moreover, we could show that these distinct processes also showed distinct associations with mental health traits (Dubois & Hauser, accepted). Lastly, we showed that such decision making strategies also mattered in real-life behaviours, such as adherence to COVID guidance and they were linked to changing mental health symptoms (Loosen et al., 2021).

Key publications

  1. Skvortsova V, & Hauser TU (2022). Distinct computational mechanisms underlying cognitive flexibility deficits in impulsivity and compulsivity. Research Square.
  2. Dubois M & Hauser TU (accepted). Value-free random exploration is linked to impulsivity. Nature Commun
  3. Loosen AM, Skvortsova V & Hauser TU (2021). Obsessive–compulsive symptoms and information seeking during the Covid-19 pandemic. Transl Psychiatry, 11, 309.


Go to Editor View