Opinion Review
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Psychiatr. May 19, 2021; 11(5): 153-168
Published online May 19, 2021. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i5.153
Use of cognitive event-related potentials in the management of psychiatric disorders: Towards an individual follow-up and multi-component clinical approach
Salvatore Campanella
Salvatore Campanella, Laboratoire de Psychologie Médicale et d’Addictologie, ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI), CHU Brugmann-Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.), Brussels 1020, Belgium
Author contributions: Campanella S is the sole author of the manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Salvatore Campanella, PhD, Senior Research Associate FNRS, Laboratoire de Psychologie Médicale et d’Addictologie, ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI), CHU Brugmann-Université Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.), 4, Place Vangehuchten, Secrétariat de Psychiatrie, Brussels 1020, Belgium. salvatore.campanella@chu-brugmann.be
Received: January 22, 2021
Peer-review started: January 22, 2021
First decision: March 1, 2021
Revised: March 5, 2021
Accepted: April 14, 2021
Article in press: April 14, 2021
Published online: May 19, 2021

Relapse prevention remains a major challenge in psychiatry, thus indicating that the established treatment methods combining psychotherapy with neuropharmacological interventions are not entirely effective. In recent years, several intervention strategies have been devised that are aimed at improving psychiatric treatment by providing a complementary set of add-on tools that can be used by clinicians to improve current patient assessment. Among these, cognitive event-related potentials (ERPs) have been indexed as valuable biomarkers of the pathophysiological mechanisms of various mental illnesses. However, despite decades of research, their clinical utility is still controversial and a matter of debate. In this opinion review, I present the main arguments supporting the use of cognitive ERPs in the management of psychiatric disorders, stressing why it is currently still not the case despite the vast number of ERP studies to date. I also propose a clinically-oriented suitable way in which this technique could — in my opinion — be effectively incorporated into individual patient care by promotion of the use of individual ERP test-retest sessions and the use of a multi-component approach.

Keywords: Event-related potentials, Psychiatry, Cognitive disorders, Follow-up, Multi-component approach, Personalized medicine

Core Tip: Despite decades of intense research and many promising results, cognitive event-related potentials (ERPs) have yet to be implemented in daily psychiatric care units as an add-on tool to psychotherapy and medication. I present here the main arguments supporting the notion that ERPs represent a highly suitable tool for performing individual “neuro-cognitive” assessments in psychiatric patients. Such ERP data could help clinicians to specify individual cognitive interventions that will target each patient’s specific needs, thus promoting an “individualized” or “personalized” medicine.