Research Projects
Youth Mental Health – Subclinical Psychotic Symptoms in a Territory-Wide Epidemiological Youth Cohort in Hong Kong

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS
About the Project

Objective and Significance:

Youth is a critical developmental period, yet is associated with particularly high risk for mental illness. Accumulating evidence has suggested that a significant proportion of youth may experience subclinical psychotic symptoms (i.e., not up to full-threshold clinical disorder) which adversely affect their role and social functioning, and may increase the risk for future progression to severe mental illness. Given the relative paucity of research in this important area, the current study aims to: (1) To examine neurocognitive and neuroimaging deviations in youth with subclinical psychotic symptoms (2) To specifically investigate the relationship of reinforcement learning and effort-based decision-making ability with subclinical psychotic symptoms (3) To evaluate the impact of subclinical psychotic symptoms on real-world functioning and subjective quality of life

Research Plan and Methodology:

This is a cross-sectional case-control study, derived from a large-scale Hong Kong-Youth Epidemiological Study on mental health (HKYES), comparing youth with and without subclinical psychotic symptoms (sub-PS) on a comprehensive array of evaluation encompassing clinical, functional (role and social functioning, subjective quality of life) and standard neurocognitive assessments, specific cognitive computerized experimental paradigms (i.e., reinforcement learning and effort-cost computation), as well as multimodal MRI brain imaging. Other major psychiatric symptom dimensions including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms etc, will also be investigated. MRes candidate can be involved in the research subcomponents of this sub-PS study for an individual project.

About the Supervisor

Dr WC Chang, Department of Psychiatry


Next Step?

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.