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The developmental psychopathology of emotional and behavioral disorders

Research Center
Research Area


Dr.ssa Maria Nobile
M.D., Ph.D., Senior Researcher
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Dott.ssa Monica Bellina
M.Sc., researcher
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Dott. Alessandro Crippa
Ph.D. in charge of NIRS Lab
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Dott. Roberto Giorda
Ph.D. in charge of Biology Lab
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Dott.ssa Maddalena Mauri
M.Sc., junior researcher
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+39 031 877813

+39 031 877563


Research area is focused on the developmental trajectories of emotion and behavior from childhood throughout adolescence. The identification of key pathways and psychological and biological mechanisms to be targeted by interventions is critical for many mental illnesses. The interaction between genetic and environmental determinants is one of the main fields of interest and it is becoming clearer how this plays an important role in the development of mental illness. Our research also targets how genes influence the development of specific brain circuits involved in cognitive control of emotions and behavior. These circuits are investigated through the integration of electrophysiological measures (EEG), structural (DTI) and hemodynamic (fMRI and fNIRS) measures, allowing us to collect information with high spatial and temporal resolution.

Selected publications

  • The mental simulation of state/psychological verbs in the adolescent brain: An fMRI study. Tomasino B, Nobile M, Re M, Bellina M, Garzitto M, Arrigoni F, Molteni M, Fabbro F, Brambilla P. Brain Cogn. 2018 Mar 2;123:34-46. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2018.02.010. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Agostoni C, Nobile M, Ciappolino V, Delvecchio G, Tesei A, Turolo S, Crippa A, Mazzocchi A, Altamura CA, Brambilla P. The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Developmental Psychopathology: A Systematic Review on Early Psychosis, Autism, and ADHD. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 4;18(12). pii: E2608. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122608. Review. PMID:     29207548
  • Caprara GV, Gerbino M, Perinelli E, Alessandri G, Lenti C, Walder M, Preda CE, Brunati E, Marchesini G, Tiberti A, Balottin U, Nonini L, De Girolamo G, Meraviglia C, Gianatti D, Libera L, Martinelli O, Steca P, Monzani D, Molteni M, Nobile M. Individual Differences in Personality Associated with Aggressive Behavior among Adolescents Referred for Externalizing Behavior Problems. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment Volume 39, Issue 4, 1 December 2017, Pages 680-692
  • Piccin S, Crippa A, Nobile M, Hardan AY, Brambilla P. Video modeling for the development of personal hygiene skills in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2017 Nov 10:1-6. doi: 10.1017/S2045796017000610. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Crippa A, Salvatore C, Molteni E, Mauri M, Salandi A, Trabattoni S, Agostoni C, Molteni M, Nobile M, Castiglioni I. The Utility of a Computerized Algorithm Based on a Multi-Domain Profile of Measures for the Diagnosis of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 3;8:189. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00189. eCollection 2017.
  • Tesei A, Crippa A, Ceccarelli SB, Mauri M, Molteni M, Agostoni C, Nobile M. The potential relevance of docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid to the etiopathogenesis of childhood neuropsychiatric disorders. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 26(9), pp. 1011-1030
  • Colombo P, Nobile M, Tesei A, Civati F, Gandossini S, Mani E, Molteni M, Bresolin N, D'Angelo G. Assessing mental health in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: Emotional, behavioural and neurodevelopmental profile in an Italian clinical sample. Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2017 Jul;21(4):639-647. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2017.02.007
  • Bianchi V, Brambilla P, Garzitto M, Colombo P, Fornasari L, Bellina M, Bonivento C, Tesei A, Piccin S, Conte S, Perna G, Frigerio A, Castiglioni I, Fabbro F, Molteni M, Nobile M. Latent classes of emotional and behavioural problems in epidemiological and referred samples and their relations to DSM-IV diagnoses. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 26(5), pp. 549-557
  • Mauri M, Nobile M, Bellina M, Crippa A, Brambilla P. Light up ADHD: I. Cortical hemodynamic responses measured by functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS). J Affect Disord. 2017 Nov 21. pii: S0165-0327(17)31275-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.11.087. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 29195758
  • Bucci P, Mucci A, Piegari G, Nobile M, Pini S, Rossi A, Vita A, Galderisi S, Maj M. Characterization of premorbid functioning during childhood in patients with deficit vs. non-deficit schizophrenia and in their healthy siblings. Schizophr Res. 2016 Jul;174(1-3):172-6. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.01.032. PMID: 26825584
  • Crippa A, Del Vecchio G, Busti Ceccarelli S, Nobile M, Arrigoni F, Brambilla P. Cortico-Cerebellar Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: What Do We Know So Far? Front Psychiatry. 2016 Feb 23;7:20. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00020. eCollection 2016. Review. PMID: 26941658
  • Nobile M, Bianchi V, Monzani D, Beri S, Bellina M, Greco A, Colombo P, Tesei A, Caldirola D, Giorda R, Perna G, Molteni M. Effect of family structure and TPH2 G-703T on the stability of dysregulation profile throughout adolescence. J Affect Disord. 2016 Nov 4;190:576-584. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.10.057.
  • Pozzi M, Radice S, Clementi E, Molteni M, Nobile M. Antidepressants and, suicide and self-injury: Causal or casual association? Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2016;20(1):47-51. doi: 10.3109/13651501.2015.1117111. Review. PMID: 26750572
  • Crippa A, Agostoni C, Mauri M, Molteni M, Nobile M. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Are Associated With Behavior But Not With Cognition in Children With and Without ADHD: An Italian study. J Atten Disord. 2016 Feb 9. pii: 1087054716629215. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Zohsel K, Bianchi V, Mascheretti S, Hohm E, Schmidt MH, Esser G, Brandeis D, Banaschewski T, Nobile M, Laucht M. Monoamine oxidase A polymorphism moderates stability of attention problems and susceptibility to life stress during adolescence. Genes Brain Behav. 2015 Oct 9. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12258. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Crippa A, Salvatore C, Perego P, Forti S, Nobile M, Molteni M, Castiglioni I. Use of Machine Learning to Identify Children with Autism and Their Motor Abnormalities. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Jul;45(7):2146-56.
  • Riva V, Battaglia M, Nobile M, Cattaneo F, Lazazzera C, Mascheretti S, Giorda R, Mérette C, Emond C, Maziade M, Marino C. GRIN2B predicts attention problems among disadvantaged children. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;24(7):827-36.
  • Riva V, Marino C, Giorda R, Molteni M, Nobile M. The role of DCDC2 genetic variants and low socioeconomic status in vulnerability to attention problems. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2015 Mar;24(3):309-18
  • Nobile M, Greco A, Perna G, Colombo P, Bianchi V, Bellina M, Giorda R, Monzani D, Carlet O, Griez E, Molteni M. Effect of the serotonin transporter gene and of environment on the continuity of anxiety and depression traits throughout adolescence. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2014 Dec;23(4):399-409
  • Molteni M, Cattaneo D, Nobile M, Radice S, Clementi E. Potential Benefits and Limits of Psychopharmacological Therapies in Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2014;9(4):365-76.
  • Bellani M, Nobile M, Bianchi V, van Os J, Brambilla P. Genotype by environment interaction and neurodevelopment III. Focus on the child's broader social ecology. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2013 Jun 22(2):125-9.
  • Bellina M, Brambilla P, Garzitto M, Negri GA, Molteni M, Nobile M. The ability of CBCL DSM-oriented scales to predict DSM-IV diagnoses in a referred sample of children and adolescents. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Apr; 22(4):235-46.
  • Bellani M, Nobile M, Bianchi V, van Os J, Brambilla P. G × E interaction and  neurodevelopment II. Focus on adversities in paediatric depression: the moderating role of serotonin transporter. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2013 Mar;22(1):21-8.
  • Bellani M, Nobile M, Bianchi V, van Os J, Brambilla P. G × E interaction and neurodevelopment I. Focus on maltreatment. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2012 Dec; 21(4): 347-51.
  • Nobile M, Colombo P, Bellina M, Molteni M, Simone D, Nardocci F, Carlet O, Battaglia M. Psychopathology and adversities from early- to late-adolescence: a general population follow-up study with the CBCL DSM-Oriented Scales. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2013 Mar;22(1):63-73
  • Salvaterra M, Giorda R, Bassi MT, Borgatti R, Knudsen LE., Martinuzzi A, Nobile M, Pozzoli U, Ramelli GP, Reni G, Rivolta D, Stazi MA, Strazzer S, Thijs C, Toccaceli V, Trabacca A, Turconi AC, Zanini S, Zucca C, Bresolin N, Lenzi L, Pediatric Biobanking ELSI Working Group (Rossetto MG) (2012); Pediatric biobanking: a pilot qualitative survey of practices, rules, and researcher opinions in ten european countries; Biopreservation and Biobanking, 2012 Feb;10(1):29-36.
  • NOBILE M (2012). Childhood and Adolescent Depression. The Role of Environmental Adversities, of the Serotonin Transporter Gene and of their Interaction, in a Developmental Perspective . Maastricht University :Maria Nobile, ISBN: 978-88-907619-0-4
  • Nobile M., Perego P., Piccinini L., Mani E., Rossi A., Bellina M., Molteni M. Further evidence of complex motor dysfunction in drug naïve children with autism using automatic motion analysis of gait. Autism. 2011 Vol 14(2): 1–21
  • Forti S, Valli A, Perego P, Nobile M, Crippa A, Molteni M. Motor planning and control in autism. A kinematic analysis of preschool children. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 2011, 5, 834–842
  • Nobile M, Rusconi M, Bellina M, Marino C, Giorda R, Carlet O, Vanzin L, Molteni M, Battaglia M. COMT Val158Met polymorphism and socioeconomic status interact to predict attention deficit/hyperactivity problems in children aged 10-14. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2010 Jul;19(7):549-57.
  • Nobile M, Rusconi M, Bellina M, Marino C, Giorda R, Carlet O, Vanzin L, Molteni M, Battaglia M. The influence of family structure, the TPH2 G-703T and the 5-HTTLPR serotonergic genes upon affective problems in children aged 10-14 years. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Mar;50(3):317-25.
  • Nobile M, Giorda R, Marino C, Carnet  O, Pastore V, Vanzin L, Bellina M, Molteni M, Battaglia M. Socioeconomic Status Mediates the Genetic Contribution of the DRD4 and 5-HTTLPR Polymorphisms to Externalization in Pre-adolescence. Dev Psychopathol. 2007 Fall;19(4):1147-60.
  • Battaglia M, Zanoni A, Giorda R, Pozzoli U, Citterio A, Beri S, Ogliari A, Nobile M, Marino C, Molteni M. Effect of the catechol-O-methyltransferase valmet genotype on children's early phases of facial stimuli processing. Genes Brain Behav. 2007 Jun 6(4):364-74
  • Frigerio A, Vanzin L, Pastore V, Nobile M, Giorda R, Marino C, Molteni M, Rucci P, Ammaniti M, Lucarelli L, Lenti C, Walder M, Martinuzzi A, Carlet O, Muratori F, Milone A, Zuddas A, Cavolina P, Nardocci F, Tullini A, Morosini P, Polidori G, De Girolamo G. The Italian preadolescent mental health project (PrISMA): rationale and methods. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res. 2006. 15(1):22-35.
  • Cataldo MG, Nobile M, Lorusso ML, Battaglia M, Molteni M. Impulsivity in depressed children and adolescents: a comparison between behavioral and neuropsychological data. Psychiatry Res. 2005 Sep 15;136(2-3):123-33.
  • Nobile M, Cataldo MG, Giorda R, Battaglia M, Baschirotto C, Bellina M, Marino C, Molteni M: A case-control and family-based association study of the 5-HTTLPR in pediatric-onset depressive disorders. Biological Psychiatry. 2004 Aug 15;56(4):292-5
  • Nobile M, Cataldo GM, Marino C, Molteni M: Diagnosis and treatment of dysthymia in children and adolescents. CNS drugs 2003, 44: 1545-8.
  • Nobile M, Bellotti B, Marino C, Molteni M, Battaglia M: An open trial of Paroxetine in the treatment of children and adolescents with dysthymic disorder. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 2000, 10(2): 103-109
  • Battaglia M, Ogliari A, Maffei C, Marino C, Molteni M, Nobile M.: Cautionary note: complex (dys)function of the serotonin transporter. Biological Psychiatry 2000, 48 (4): 334-335
  • Nobile M, Marino C, Molteni M, Battaglia M. Some ado about a polymorphism. Am J Psychiatry 2000 Nov;157(11):1886-8
  • Nobile M, Begni B, Giorda R, Frigerio A, Marino C, Molteni M, Ferrarese C, Battaglia M.: Effects of Serotonin Transporter Promoter Genotype on Platelet Serotonin Transporter Functionality in Depressed Children and Adolescents. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 1999, 38 (11): 1396-402


  • Prof. Paolo Brambilla, Department of Neurosciences and Mental health, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, University of Milan, Italy
  • Dr. Stefano Comai, Division of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute University, Milan, Italy
  • Prof.ssa Isabella Castiglioni, Institute of Molecular Bioimaging and Physiology, CNR, Milano, Italy
  • Prof.ssa Cecilia Marino, Division One: Child & Adolescent, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Prof. Manfred Laucht e Tobias Banaschewski, Department of Child and Adolescent Psichiatry and Psychotherapy - Central Institute of Mental Health. Medical Faculty Mannheim/Heidelberg University - Mannheim, Germany
  • Prof. Robert Goodman, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Institute of Psychiatry - King’s College, London, UK


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