Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Defining Wellbeing In The Brain Using A Neuroscience Twin Design (#420)

Justine Gatt 1 , Peter Schofield 1 , Anthony Harris 2 , Richard Clark 3 , Leanne Williams 4
  1. Neuroscience Research Australia & UNSW, Randwick, NSW, Australia
  2. Psychiatry, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  4. Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

The Gatt Resilience Group aims to understand the neuroscience and genetics of mental wellbeing across the lifespan. One key study is the longitudinal TWIN-E study of 1,600 healthy adult twins (18 – 60 years) conducted across Australia. Various measures were collected in these twins including DNA samples, neurocognitive performance measures, and neuroimaging measures including electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of brain structure and function. The first key outcome from this study was the development of the COMPAS-W Wellbeing Scale (Gatt et al., 2014, Psychiatry Research) which is a 26-item scale of composite wellbeing measuring both hedonia and eudaimonia. For this talk, we will present outcomes from several studies showing how wellbeing is associated with various measures including neurocognitive performance (e.g., executive functioning and behavioural response to emotional faces) and gray matter volume of difference brain regions using MRI. In addition, the role of shared genetic and environmental factors in these relationships using multivariate twin modelling will be discussed.

Reference: Gatt JM, Burton KLO, Schofield PR, Bryant RA, Williams LM. (2014), ‘The heritability of mental health and wellbeing defined using COMPAS-W, a new composite measure of wellbeing’, Psychiatry Research, vol. 219, no. 1, pp. 204-213.