About the research area

In the research area psychoneuroimmunology, the importance of behaviour in the interplay between the brain, the endocrine and the immune system is studied. Within this framework, we study how stress and sleep influences the immune system, and how the immune system in turn influences brain function, subjective (self-rated) health, pain sensitivity and social interactions. The research is conducted in close collaboration between the Stockholm University and Karolinska Institutet. The interdisciplinary framework is also used as a stepping stone for intervention research, for example psychological treatment for disturbed sleep or chronic pain, and placebo and acupuncture for nausea.

The work is conducted within a marked interdisciplinary network with competence in psychology, endocrinology, physiology, allergology and cognitive neuroscience. Several studies are conducted in the interface between psychology and biomedicine, for example in studies on stress and sleep in relation to immune regulation. Also, we study the effects of inflammation, both acute experimental and chronic allergic, on brain function, measured with methods such as fMRI and PET.

Several studies concern biological and psychological determinants for subjective health. These studies are performed both with experimental methods - such as causing a short-lived harmless inflammatory reaction which entails a transient feeling of sickness – and through longitudinal observational studies in different population.

The knowledge about common illness symptoms, such as pain, poor subjective health or tiredness, is a point of departure also for our treatment research. Here, cognitive behavioural therapy (also given in self-help form) for insomnia and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) for chronic pain. Other treatment projects are under development.