Dr Melita Giummara discusses vicarious pain on ABC Science
Dr Melita Giummara says it is the first time that physiological changes associated with vicarious pain have been measured. See full article.
Faculty Fellowships awardees
Two Research Fellows from the School of Psychological Sciences have been awarded Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Fellowships.
Dr Govinda Poudel, who is mentored by Professors Shantha Rajaratnam and Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, has been awarded a FMNHS Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship 2015 for his project “What happens in the brain during microsleeps?” This fellowship provides an opportunity to further build research capacity in computational neuroimaging and develop innovative experimental methods for multimodal neuroimaging based investigation of microsleeps.
Dr Claudine Kraan, mentored by Professor Kim Cornish, has been awarded a FMNHS Bridging Postdoctoral Fellowship for her project “An Investigation of relationships between the epi genotype of FMR1 intron 1 and psychiatric phenotypes in fragile X premutation carrier women’. Dr Kraan’s research focuses on understanding the link between genetic and neurological profiles in fragile X carrier women. This project has broad ranging implications. By investigating the clinical utility of using a blood test to identify sensitive risk biomarkers for psychiatric disorders, this study will pave the way towards much needed development of personalised genomics in carrier women.
ACS Annual Meeting awards to Jade Murray and Bhairavi Raman
Two Sleep and Circadian Medicine Laboratory students were recognised for their outstanding research presentations at the Australian Chronobiology Society’s 11th Annual Meeting in Melbourne on Friday 14 November.
Jade Murray, a PhD candidate, won the award for Best PhD Presentation for her work on mood and daytime functioning in intrinsic and extrinsic phenotypes of Delayed Sleep Phase disorder; and Bhairavi Raman, a Psychology Honours student, won the award for Best Honours Presentation for her work examining a the enhancing effects of a short wavelength light intervention on alertness and performance in night shift workers.
Dr Sean Cain’s team awarded NHMRC grant
Dr Sean Cain, Prof Shantha Rajaratnam, Prof Leon Lack, Dr Clare Anderson and Prof Steven Lockley were awarded a NHMRC grant for their Project “Hyper-sensitivity of the circadian system to light in Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder”. Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD) is a primary sleep disorder characterized by a difficulty in initiating sleep at night and subsequent difficulty in waking at times required for work or school. DSPD is associated with depression and anxiety, excessive daytime sleepiness, reduced academic and work performance and reduced quality of life, largely due to chronic sleep loss. The physiological basis of the disorder remains unknown, thus hampering efforts to develop accurate diagnostic methods and effective treatments. This project investigates how changes in the sensitivity of the circadian clock to evening light underlie this sleep disorder.
Dr Marie Yap awarded a Mental Health of Young Australians Research Grant
Dr Marie Yap was awarded a Mental Health of Young Australians Research Grant from the Australian Rotary Health for her project “Evaluating a tailored web-based parenting intervention to prevent adolescent depression and anxiety problems: A pilot randomized controlled trial”. Parenting strategies: preventing Depression & Anxiety is an award winning website.
Professor Mark Bellgrove
ARC Discovery Project for funding commencing in 2015
Project Title: Dissecting the neural substrates of spatial attention
Effectively distributing attention in space is critical to human learning and performance. Although it is recognised that spatial attention is influenced by arousal states, we lack an understanding of the associated brain mechanisms and dynamics. This project aims to monitor changes in arousal levels (pupillometry) and discrete stages of information processing (EEG) at the millisecond level during a spatial attention task. Establishing the sensitivity of these methods to spontaneous and externally driven fluctuations of arousal is expected to yield a mechanistic account of the neural substrates of spatial attention with implications for human learning and performance, and diagnosis and treatment of attention disorders.
Dr Sharna Jamadar
ARC DECRA for funding commencing in 2015
Project Title: Cognitive Control and Cognitive Compensation in Ageing: Can Older Adults Compensate for Age-Related Changes in the Brain?
Decline in cognitive control can have a devastating effect on an individual's capacity to live a high quality and safe independent life. It is an untested assumption that older adults can compensate for age-related changes in cognitive control function to perform at the same level as younger adults. This project aims to be the first to test this widely-held assumption and will examine changes in cognitive control and the emergence of compensation over the adult lifespan (20 to 90 years). The project aims to establish whether cognitive compensation is an effective mechanism to maintain cognitive control function into old age and will inform future strategies to help older individuals live more successful and productive independent lives for longer.
Associate Professor Nikki Rickard and Professor Jennie Ponsford with colleagues from Melbourne University
Baker, A/Prof Felicity; Rickard, A/Prof Nikki S; Ponsford, Prof Jennie L; Tamplin, Dr Jeanette; MacDonald, Prof Raymond A
ARC Discovery Project for funding commencing in 2015
Project Title: Singing my story: Negotiating identities through therapeutic songwriting for people with acquired neurological injuries
Thousands of Australians present with fractured identities following acquired spinal or brain injuries which can diminish their capacity to participate in and contribute to society. This project aims to investigate the effect of a song writing intervention on reconstruction of a meaningful integrated identity and psychological wellbeing post-injury. It aims to construct a model of mechanisms of change, identify factors influencing change and explore the role of musical identity in the process of identity reconstruction. It is expected that the findings will show evidence that song writing can enhance wellbeing, improve self-concept, and increase social and economic participation in society.
Dr Ben Fulcher awarded a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship
Dr Ben Fulcher was awarded a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship for his project ‘From brain maps to mechanisms: modelling the pathophysiology of schizophrenia’
Schizophrenia is a debilitating neuropsychiatric syndrome associated with delusions, hallucinations, and cognitive and emotional disturbances. Brain imaging techniques such as structural and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI, fMRI) have featured prominently in attempts to uncover the neurobiological basis of this debilitating disorder. However, despite an extensive research effort, this work has been unable to identify underlying causes or new treatments, thus having minimal impact on the daily care of patients. Dr Fulcher will develop a framework that integrates brain imaging data with mathematical models of neurophysiological processes, and use it to help understand the neurobiological basis for schizophrenia. The results may be able to link functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) measurements to an understanding of underlying causes in individuals with schizophrenia, and hence motivate new treatments that target them.
Dr Marie Yap wins Young Tall Poppy Science Award
Dr Yap has won the Young Tall Poppy Science Award which recognizes outstanding young researchers. Recently Marie was also 1st runner up in the Scopus Young Researcher Award in the Humanities and Social Science category. The psychologist and early career researcher, who studies the role of parents in child and adolescent mental health, equips parents with the skills to reduce the risk of their child developing mental health problems. Dr Yap and five other scientists from Monash University will spend a year promoting science to school students and the broader community. Monash Memo
MASSIVE help for Neuroscientists
Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis and her team are using the Multi-modal Australian ScienceS Imaging and Visualisation Environment (MASSIVE) to conduct a longitudinal study - The IMAGE-HD study. This project aims to track the onset and progression of Huntington Disease (HD), which will help us to understand how the disease develops over time. Through this research , the team found the number of poorly connected neural networks increased in people diagnosed with HD, compared to those without the disease. They also found that as the disease develops, the changes in the brain become more widespread. These findings have important implications for drug development, particularly in terms of treatments geared toward preventing loss of neural connections, strengthening neural connectivity, and/or improving functional outcomes.
Dr Govinda Poudel, Senior Research Fellow of the IMAGE-HD team, noted that “in the absence of MASSIVE our analysis pipeline would have significantly slowed down – approximately 20 times”. He went on to say the “Parallel processing [capabilities of MASSIVE] allowed us to obtain results for 108 subjects over three time points in a couple of hours rather than days”. MASSIVE has become a significant part of Dr Poudel’s research tool kit…”MASSIVE is an impressive tool, which not only allows rapid analysis but also allows visualisation at a level not possible with other systems.”
A/Prof Nao Tsuchiya discusses consciousness on SBS Insight
A/Prof Tsuchiya discusses what we know about consciousness on "Conscious or not". SBS podcast download.
Sleep quality critical to the effectiveness of PTSD treatment
Professor Sean Drummond‘s study on the effect of sleep on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has found that sleep quality is critical to the effectiveness of PTSD treatment. “Our study suggests the physiological mechanism whereby sleep difficulties can help maintain PTSD. It also strongly implies a mechanism by which poor sleep may impair the ability of an individual to fully benefit from exposure-based PTSD treatments, which are the gold standard of interventions.”
“The implication is that we should try treating sleep before treating the daytime symptoms of PTSD and see if those who are sleeping better when they start exposure therapy derive more benefit,” says Professor Drummond.
PTSD is an often difficult-to-treat mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. Frequently associated with people who have served in war zones, it is characterized by severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and uncontrollable thoughts.
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Professor Drummond is currently professor of psychiatry at the University Of California San Diego School of Medicine and will be joining our school in November.
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function officially opened
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function, led by Professor Gary Egan, will combine techniques for analysing brain anatomy, physiology and function with advanced computational techniques, to uncover the fundamental principles of brain function has been officially launched. Read more.
Monash delegates visit the prestigious Riken Centre in Japan
Professor Kim Cornish is one of ten delegates from the Faculty of Biomedical and Psychological Sciences visiting the Riken Centre for Integrative Medical Sciences and Riken Brain Science Institute in Japan to discuss collaborations with Riken researchers.The visit will establish research links including undergraduate and graduate exchanges and also begin an international collaboration of women in science. Our delegates were guests at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo and had meetings with the Head of Education Services and Director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Image (from left to right): Silvio Tiziani (ARMI), Professor John Carroll (Faculty of Biomedical Psychological Sciences, Professor Kim Cornish (School of Psychological Sciences) and Associate Professor Martin Stone (Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology).
Dr Bernadette Fitzgibbon receives Young Researcher of the Year award
Dr Bernadette Fitzgibbon has received the Bethlehem Griffiths Research Foundation (BGRF) Young Researcher of the Year award. Bernadette completed her PhD in 2011 at the School of Psychological Sciences under the supervision of Dr Peter Enticott, Emeritus Professor John Bradshaw and Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis where she conducted the first clinical and neurophysiological studies of a new pain phenomenon in amputees. In 2012 she received the Vice Chancellor's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence (Monash University). Read more.
Dr Matt Mundy receives award for outstanding publication
Dr Matt Mundy has been awarded the 2014 Faculty Early Career Researcher Publication Prize, for his paper: "A Critical Role for the Hippocampus and Perirhinal Cortex in Perceptual Learning of Scenes and Faces: Complementary Findings from Amnesia and fMRI" published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Matt's findings redefine the role of several brain regions, opening the door for a new series of studies that build towards a revised understanding of memory deficit, such as that seen in Alzheimer's disease and long-term amnesia. Full article.
Prestigious appointment recognises Professor Kim Cornish's leadership role
Professor Cornish has been appointed Chair, Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Association of Australia (HODSPA). This is an influential appointment that recognises the key leadership role played by Professor Cornish in academic psychology with Australia. Read more.
Associate Professor Alex Fornito wins the ACNS Young Investigator Award
Associate Professor Fornito has won the ACNS Young Investigator Award for 2014. He competed against applications from across Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia.
As the winner of this prestigious award Associate Professor Fornito will give a Plenary talk at this year's International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON) in Brisbane, July 28-31.
The relationship between weather conditions and people’s mood
"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is linked to a shortening of day length and potentially a change in the internal timing relationship between the circadian clock and the sleep-wake cycle. Bright light therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Depression is associated with reduced productivity and performance" Professor Shantha Rajaratnam. Cities With the Best & Worst Weather
Prof Yucel Murat leads gambling study
Monash Clinic and Imaging Neuroscience (MCIN) (MCIN) Director, Professor Yucel Murat, is working with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation and Turning Point to investigate all types of problem gambling. Research has found that people who gamble frequently may experience brain changes that make it extremely difficult for them to give up the habit. Read more.
Associate Professor Naotsugu Tsuchiya receives The Young Scientists' Prize
A/Prof Naotsugu Tsuchiya has received The Young Scientists' Prize (in the under 40s category) a commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology from the Japanese government. He will receive the award for innovative and original research with a promise for a high-level research capability and substantial contribution to the field in Japan this month. Nao joined us from Riken University in Japan in 2012 and has since been awarded a Future Fellowship alongside national funding for his work on consciousness. Read more.
Dr Clare Anderson awarded Advancing Women's Research Success Grant
Dr Anderson has been awarded an Advancing Women's Research Grant. This AWRS grant aims to support the career progression of early to mid-career high achieving female academic staff and to assist the University in meetings its targets in increasing the representation of women in senior academic roles. Find out more.
Women in Psychology
Over one hundred female undergraduate students came together last Wednesday night to hear the amazing stories of five professional women and their experience in research and psychological science. “Women in Psychology”, hosted by SNAPS, provided students a unique opportunity to see how hard work, dedication and passion can turn the dream of making an impact in the community into a reality through the field of research. Five key speakers from the School of Psychological Science spoke about where their careers began, their inspiration during their undergraduate degree and how they have been able to find balance in their life, both professional and personal. Professor Kim Cornish (Head of Psychological Sciences) and Dr Clare Anderson (Senior Lecturer) spoke of their journey all across the world, with the support of their loving husbands, and what brought them to Melbourne today. Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis (Chair of Research Degrees) told of her desire to see change, and her vast impact in the field of neurodegenerative disorders. Jessica Despard (PhD Candidate & Project Manager) and Claudine Kraan (PhD Candidate), whilst still early in their careers, helped to motivate students to find their passion, and not be discouraged if life takes you in different directions. Overall the night was a huge success with each speaker giving students the inspiration to find their ambition, integrity, resilience, and balanced in life to help drive them through the rest of their career. One key message that truly resonated with students was to also find courage and confidence within themselves, and how one single knock on the door can help turn a student’s dream into reality.
The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to tackle fatigue-related injury
Professor Shantha Rajaratnam leads research into the development of a random roadside saliva tests to identify fatigued drivers as part of the launch the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness, Safety and Productivity at Monash University. CRC is an alliance of technology companies, academics, regulators and employers joining forces to develop cutting-edge new devices and systems that help protect workers and drivers from fatigue. Full article. News clip.
Tracey Sletten discusses the effect of genetics on sleep
GENETICS rather than learned behaviour may determine many of our sleep patterns, according to a world-first study into twins and their sleep habits. The Monash University research found that compared with non-identical twins, identical twins were more likely to have similar sleep timing, duration and quality. The researchers examined the sleep patterns of 132 12-year-old twins, of which 25 pairs were identical and 41 fraternal. The twins wore wrist activity monitors and completed daily sleep diaries, reporting their bedtime, wake time, and estimated sleep onset time over two weeks in their home environment. The study found genetic factors accounted for 65 per cent of the variance in total sleep time, 83 per cent of variance in sleep onset, and 52 and 57 per cent of variance in wake after sleep onset and sleep efficiency respectively. Shared environment was found to be the predominant determining factor in sleep timing, accounting for 67 per cent of variance for sleep start time and 86 per cent of variance for sleep end time. The study is ongoing, with further data to be collected when the twins turn 14 and 16, making it one of the most comprehensive examinations of sleep patterns in adolescent twins. Lead researcher Tracey Sletten said it was clear genetic factors had a primary influence on the initiation and maintenance of sleep and sleep quality, and a smaller influence on the timing. The Australian.
Professor Kim Cornish’s PhD students are visiting speakers at the University of South Carolina
Two Graduate Students from the Cornish Developmental Lab have been invited to speak at the Institute for Mind and Brain, University of South Carolina. Hannah Kirk’s talk will be on “Attention difficulties in children with developmental disabilities: Is cognitive training a potential solution?” and Fay Fletcher’s presentation on “A longitudinal examination of sleep disturbance in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”.
Student receives prestigious 2013 World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR) Franz Gerstenbrand Award
Kelly Sinclair was awarded the 2013 World Federation for NeuroRehabilitation (WFNR) Franz Gerstenbrand Award for her doctoral research. The Award is open to clinicians, researchers and allied health professionals who are currently working in neurorehabilitation. She is planning to use her Award as a travel bursary. Kelly completed a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) in 2012 at Monash University, under the supervision of Professor Shantha Rajaratnam and Professor Jennie Ponsford. Her research was investigating assessment measures for fatigue and sleep complaints following Traumatic Brain Injury and examining the efficacy of blue light therapy as a potential treatment for these complaints.
New Centre of Excellence for multidisciplinary brain research
Monash University will lead the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function (CIBF), which will foster multidisciplinary research partnerships in Australia and internationally, develop the next generation of neuroscience leaders and expand science education programs for high school students. “By employing diverse techniques to analyse brain anatomy and physiology, our team will discover the core principles of brain function that underlie attention, prediction, and decision making,” said Professor Gary Egan, Director of CIBF and Monash Biomedical Imaging. Read more.
Emeritus Professor John Bradshaw discusses 'The Little Brain' ABC Radio National
Emeritus Professor Bradshaw tells us that at the back of our head we have a second or 'little' brain called the cerebellum. Apart from co-ordinating voluntary movements, balance, posture and gain, the cerebellum also plays a major role in cognitive, attentional, decisions, memory and even linguistic processes. Download and transcript available here.
The harmful effects of cannabis
Professor Murat Yucel says his research group studied the effects of daily cannabis users for more than ten years and have found links with many harmful effects. Read more.
How does Monash make you career ready?
Monash University's top academics and researchers, as well as students and staff, talk about your future employability and how Monash can make you career ready.
Why some people love music and others don't
Insight into our uses of music is being achieved via music psychology – a rapidly expanding field which draws on research across numerous domains including cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective computing (the science of human-computer interaction where the device can detect and respond to its user’s emotions. Associate Professor Nikki Rickard discusses why some people love music and others don't. Read more.
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