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Research in the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at CAMH focuses on the etiology, assessment, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of mental disorders and addiction later in life. Building on strong clinical services, we consider the development of a strong and focused research program as critical to our mission to improve care for older people with mental illnesses and addiction in Ontario.

We work in partnership with scientific, clinical and administrative staff at CAMH, and with locally, nationally and internationally recognized neuroscientists and clinical scientists to study ways to improve interventions for older people with mental disorders like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or dementia (Alzheimer's disease).


Impact on client care ​

The overarching aim of our current work is to improve our understanding of treatment mechanisms and response variability, so that we may ultimately be able to improve and personalize care with medication, psychotherapy or brain stimulation and enhance the efficacy and reduce adverse experiences of these interventions in the treatment of late-life mental disorders. Our Research Program brings together seven approaches to the study of late-life mental disorders:

  • Brain therapeutics
  • Genetics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychosocial interventions


Current studies

We are conducting several studies to improve outcomes for people with late-life mental disorders. Visit CAMH Research Studies and Recruitment or click on the links below to find more details about each project and if you may be eligible to participate in a study:


Alzheimer’s dementia and mild cognitive impairment studies

  • Combining two novel interventions (tDCS brain stimulation and cognitive remediation) for depressed or cognitively impaired older adults at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease (PACt-MD).
  • Using paired associative stimulation (PAS), a new application of non-invasive brain stimulation, for patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease (PAS-AD).
  • Enhancing memory and cognition in patients with Alzheimer’s disease through repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS-AD).
  • Deepening our understanding of the cognitive issues associated with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders (ONDRI).
  • Examining the impact of a brief education session regarding Alzheimer’s disease on healthy seniors’ preferences for certain types of medical treatment and care (BPSD; not currently recruiting).


Bipolar disorder studies

  • Investigating how bipolar disorder affects cognitive abilities in middle-aged and older adults, and how this relates to day-to-day living (Cog-BD; not currently recruiting).
  • Investigating the cognitive effects of bipolar disorder in younger adults, and how these effects relate to social functioning and day-to-day living (Cog-BD-Y).


Depression studies
  • Combining two novel interventions (tDCS brain stimulation and cognitive remediation) for depressed or cognitively impaired older adults at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease (PACt-MD).
  • Combining buprenorphine with an antidepressant (venlafaxine) for depressed older adults (IRL-GREY-B).
  • Applying brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation) for depressed older adults (tDCS).
  • Assessing a novel brain stimulation strategy for treatment-resistant late-life depression: H1-Coil deep repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (H-Coil rTMS).


Pharmacokinetic studies

  • Studying how the body processes mirtazapine (an anti-depressant medication), and how this relates to other factors, such as age, genetics or other prescribed medications (Mirtazapine Pharmacokinetics; not currently recruiting).


Schizophrenia studies

  • Evaluating an Integrated Care Pathway for improving quality of care in the treatment of late-life schizophrenia (LLS-ICP).
  • Investigating how brain regions are connected in patients with schizophrenia and related illnesses, how their brains change with age and what role genes play in these connections (DTI; not currently recruiting).
  • Learning more about the cognitive abilities of people with late-life schizophrenia (and related disorders), and how these cognitive abilities are related to demographics, clinical features of the disorder and day-to-day living (LLS; not currently recruiting).


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