Highlights from ECNP 2022 – Day 4 – October 18th

Welcome to Progress in Mind’s live coverage of ECNP 2022. The 35th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology concluded today October 18th, 2022, with symposia, campfire sessions, ePosters and Poster Jam sessions. Educational Updates discussed enhancing cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and managing sleep disorders in anxious and depressed patients. Top Papers in psychiatric genetics were presented and New Frontiers explored the use of digital therapeutics for brain disorders. Professor Ole Kiehn, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, recipient of this year’s ‘The Brain Prize’ delivered his keynote lecture on elucidating circuits for locomotor movement in health and disease. Here is a summary of today’s (Day 4) highlights from the closing day of this conference.

Boosting cognition in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

“Why intervene on cognition? Cognitive impairment is prevalent with psychoses and negatively impacts on illness severity, psychosocial functioning and quality of life.” – Dr Rebecca Strawbridge, London, UK

  • People living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder frequently experience cognitive impairments that persist even after resolution of the main illness symptoms.
  • Cognitive impairments are intricately entwined with functioning in everyday life, causing significant functional disability and can increase risk of relapse.
  • Pro-cognitive therapies spanning pharmacological and non-pharmacological modalities (e.g., cognitive remediation therapy and functional remediation) are not yet routinely prescribed in clinical practice, although some are now incorporated into best-practice guidelines.1-3
  • Speakers discussed how and when cognitive enhancement therapies should be implemented and the benefits of early cognitive intervention for patients with psychotic and bipolar disorders.


Restoring sleep patterns in anxiety and depression

“A good night’s sleep is a therapy for our emotions. When sleep is disturbed, insomnia increases cognitive vulnerability to anxiety and may fuel the cycle of worry.” – Dr Laura Palagini, Ferrara, Italy

  • Sleep serves important regulatory functions for mental health, and sleep disturbances, especially insomnia, impair brain neuroplasticity and stress immune pathways, so contributing to mental health disorders.4,5
  • Studies show that acting on sleep and circadian mechanisms causes immediate change of cortical excitability and neural responses that are paralleled by an immediate decrease of depression and suicidality.
  • Further insights into the complexity of multisystem mechanisms may lead to better application of circadian and sleep-related treatments for depression.
  • Insomnia treatment may play an important preventive and neuroprotective role particularly in patients with comorbid anxiety, and current therapeutic options were reviewed.6


The bipolar brain drives creativity

Across the scientific program, a wealth of topics was covered and included;

Bipolar disorder is associated with high levels of lifetime creative achievements, including entrepreneurial, artistic and scientific activities

  • evidence for heightened levels of achievement and creativity among people with bipolar spectrum disorders across different cultures and different disciplines
  • examining the profile of patients with bipolar disorder and comorbid substance use disorder in order to improve integrated therapy
  • digital interventions for the prevention and management of acute psychological responses to trauma and to promote resilience following exposure to extreme stress
  • recognition of complications associated with COVID-19 infection, including initial anxiety and depression, and longer-term consequences for psychotic disorders, cognitive deficits and dementias


2022 Brain Prize Lecture

Advanced understanding of neuronal circuit organization has potential for therapeutic developments in Parkinson’s disease

This year’s ‘The Brain Prize’ was awarded to Professor Ole Kiehn, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who delivered his keynote lecture on elucidating circuits for locomotor movement in health and disease. His research work links neuronal circuit organization to behavior, and demonstrates potential for development of therapeutics for movement disorders caused by spinal cord injury or motor disease like Parkinson’s.

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.


  1. Tsapekos D, et al. Cognitive enhancement interventions for people with bipolar disorder: A systematic review of methodological quality, treatment approaches, and outcomes. Bipolar Dis 2020;22(3):213–15.
  2. Lejeune JA, et al. A Meta-analysis of Cognitive Remediation for Schizophrenia: Efficacy and the Role of Participant and Treatment Factors. Schizophrenia Bull 2021;47(4):997–1006.
  3. Hsu WY, et al. Medications used for cognitive enhancement in patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Front Psychiatry 2018;9:91.
  4. Palagini L, et al. Sleep, insomnia and mental health. J Sleep Res 2022;31(4):e136283.
  5. Riemann D, et al. Insomnia disorder: State of the science and challenges for the future. J Sleep Res 2022;31(4):e13604.
  6. Van Someren EJW. Brain mechanisms of insomnia: new perspectives on causes and consequences. Physiol Rev 2021;101(3):995–1046.