Attention and Memory - Potential Student Projects

TitleExplanatory StatementSupervisor/sAreaCourse
Smartphones for Suicide Prevention.‎A safety plan is a document that lists personalised strategies to help an individual manage during a ‎suicidal crisis. Beyondnow is a smartphone application that allows users to document their safety ‎plan. Developed in a collaborative project between beyondblue and Monash University, the app ‎has now been downloaded more than 33,000 times. Despite its relative popularity, little is known ‎about what users place in their plans, with whom plans are completed, and user opinions and ‎experiences of safety planning. This project aims to address these questions using a novel survey ‎placed within the BeyondNow app.‎Glenn MelvinAddictionHonours
Warning signs for SuicideSuicide prevention safety plans document warning signs of crisis as well as internal (e.g., relaxation ‎and distraction) and external strategies (e.g., phoning a trusted friend or crisis hotline service) that ‎are helpful in reducing distress and suicide risk. Identification of warning signs of an impending ‎crisis are an important strategy in averting personal distress and suicide risk. This project aims to ‎develop a method of classifying warning signs for suicide that will be evaluated with a database of ‎warning signs collected from users of the BeyondNow safety planning app. Outcomes will be ‎useful for clinicians working with people at risk of suicide and will assist plan users in self-identifying ‎their warning signs. ‎Glenn MelvinAddictionHonours
Online peer support forums for alcohol and other drug issues ‎and/or gamblingFace-to-face peer support for gambling and alcohol and other drug ‎‎(AOD) issues is considered a useful resource to assist people in ‎their recovery and treatment journeys. Peer support provides ‎social support, a sense of community, belonging and opportunities ‎to engage with positive role-models. Peer support is also ‎increasingly expanding online. However, little research has ‎explored people’s experiences of online peer support and the ‎possibilities and constraints of the online medium for this purpose. ‎This exploratory study will employ qualitative methods to analyse ‎text from online AOD and/or gambling peer support forums ‎operated by Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.‎Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne, Dr Michael Savic, Dr Adrian Carter AddictionHonours, DPsych(Clinical), PhD
Online counselling for alcohol and other drug issuesDespite community concern about alcohol and other drug (AOD) ‎issues, stigma often acts as a barrier to seeking help in face-to-face ‎services. Increasingly people who use AODs are turning to ‎anonymous online AOD counselling to obtain support. However, ‎little research has explored the concerns and experiences of ‎people using online AOD counselling, and how counsellors respond ‎to client concerns and provide support online. This exploratory ‎study will employ qualitative methods to analyse transcripts of ‎online counselling sessions from Turning Point’s CounsellingOnline ‎service. For DPsych and PhD students the project may also include ‎in-depth interviews with online counselling clients and counsellors.‎Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne, Dr Michael Savic, Dr Adrian Carter AddictionHonours, DPsych(Clinical), PhD
Is visual snow a migraine variant?‎Visual snow: Often misdiagnosed as migraine, visual snow (VS) is ‎a persistent visual disturbance, described as viewing the world ‎through a veil of flickering dots, or static, much like the ‘snow’ of a ‎poorly-tuned analogue television. Using ocular motor techniques, ‎our broader research aims to establish whether VS arises from the ‎same pathophysiological mechanisms as migraine, or simply co-‎occurs with migraine. Two projects will focus on;‎
1. the automatic allocation of visuo-spatial attention using ‎visual cues in VS and migraine ‎
‎2.‎ the inhibition of attentional capture in VS and migraine
A/P Joanne Fielding and Dr Meaghan Clough 
Readiness to learn and utilise new behaviour intervention practices ‎in community brain injury rehabilitationChallenging behaviour is consistently one of the most enduring and ‎distressing sequelae of moderate to severe brain injury. Existing research ‎has found that a significant proportion of community therapists report ‎having inadequate training and low confidence in behaviour intervention. As ‎a result, patients may be missing out on much needed support. A growing ‎evidence base for behavioural interventions needs to be paralleled by ‎effective translation strategies to close this practice gap. This qualitative ‎study will explore the attitudes, expectations and needs of therapists in ‎learning new behavioural intervention approaches and using these in their ‎practice. ‎Prof Jennie Ponsford, Dr Kate Gould, Amelia HicksAttention & memory
Mapping the human connectome with MRISeveral different projects are on offer that allow students to explore ‎different aspects of brain connectivity and network organization in a ‎large cohort (>450 people) of health individuals. Potential projects ‎include:‎
- Relating brain network connectivity to variation in sub-‎threshold psychiatric symptoms to test the continuum model ‎of mental illness
- Linking genetic variation to brain network organization
- Linking patterns of gene expression to brain network ‎organization
- Mathematical modelling of brain network structure and ‎function
- Students will develop skills in using matlab, analysing brain imaging ‎data, and will enhance their neuroscience expertise.‎
Alex Fornito 
Mapping brain network changes in mental illnessMost mental disorders are thought to arise from subtle disturbances ‎in brain network wiring – i.e., disordered brain connectivity. Several ‎projects are on offer that will allow students to characterize brain ‎network changes in a range of disorders that includes schizophrenia, ‎depression, ADHD, OCD and bipolar disorder. Students will ‎develop skills in matlab, neuroscience, and the analysis of human ‎MRI data.‎Alex Fornito 
Decision-making in health and diseaseDecision-making is central to many aspects of health and society – ‎from deciding whether a traffic light is red or green (perceptual ‎decisions) to deciding how much effort to put in to studying for an ‎exam (effort-based decisions). What are the neural mechanisms ‎that underlie decision-making processes in healthy humans, and ‎how does dysfunction in these circuits give rise to the disordered ‎decision-making in patients (such as those with Parkinson’s ‎disease)? In this project, you will be involved in research using ‎behavioural and computational techniques to better understand the ‎mechanisms of perceptual and effort-based decision-making in ‎health and disease. ‎Dr Trevor Chong 
How does INO impact measures of cognition in MS?‎Multiple sclerosis: Internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO) is a ‎disorder of gaze in which the affected eye shows impairment of ‎adduction. INO is commonly seen in patients with multiple sclerosis ‎‎(MS). Two projects will investigate the extent to which:‎
‎1.‎ ‎ deficits attributed to spatial (in)accuracy in MS patients are ‎driven by the presence of INO ‎
‎2.‎ deficits attributed to visuo-spatial memory impairments in ‎MS patients are driven by the presence of INO ‎
A/P Joanne Fielding and Dr Meaghan Clough 
Unravelling Cerebellar Contributions to Cognitive FunctionsThe human cerebellum has 4 times more neurons than the entire ‎cerebrum, and the vast majority of cerebello-cerebral ‎interconnections involve non-motor brain areas. Yet the ‎contributions of the cerebellum to cognitive processes and whole-‎brain functional networks remains poorly understood. ‎
These projects will use existing neuroimaging (functional MRI) data ‎and/or neuromodulatory (TMS/tDCS) techniques to investigate how ‎cerebellar activity and connectivity relate to cognitive acuity and ‎variability.‎
Dr. Ian Harding
‎(Co-Supervisor(s) will be selected based on the specific project)‎
 
The influence of emotional distractors on working memory capacity ‎in posttraumatic stress disorderThere is a wealth of literature that associates posttraumatic stress ‎disorder (PTSD) with reduced cognitive abilities. A possible ‎mechanism for this effect may be the intrusive nature of emotional ‎information that interferes with the execution of current task goals ‎reducing working memory capacity. The aim of the current project is ‎to analyse data which has investigated the impact of emotional and ‎neutral distractors on visual working memory capacity in individuals ‎with and without a history of PTSD, and while also considering ‎depression. ‎Dr Laura Jobson 
Relationships between maternal reminiscing style and ‎autobiographical memory specificityMaternal reminiscing and remembering has a profound influence on ‎the development of children’s autobiographical remembering skills. ‎The aim of the proposed project is to investigate the relationships ‎between maternal memory specificity, maternal reminiscing and ‎child memory specificity. Researchers will collect data from mother-‎child dyads relating to memory specificity, reminiscing and current ‎psychopathology.‎Dr Laura Jobson 
Cultural differences in autobiographical rememberingThere are profound cultural differences in how individuals ‎remember past experiences. The aim of this project is to analyse data ‎comparing the autobiographical memories (content, structure and ‎function) of participants from Australia and Malaysia. ‎Dr Laura Jobson 
Visual processing in body image concernRecent neurocognitive and behavioural research suggests that, along with ‎genetic and environmental influences, abnormal visual processing ‎mechanisms are implicated in Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This ‎appears to manifest as a bias toward bottom-up, local processing, to the ‎detriment of more global representations of stimuli. This bias is thought ‎to relate to a maladaptive fixation on small body details, which is ‎commonly reported in BDD: local scrutiny may lead to a belief that such ‎areas are flawed in some way, exacerbated by a lack of global bodily ‎context. The project will examine this contention in individuals with varying ‎body image concern.‎A/Prof Matthew Mundy 
Memory and Perceptual LearningA dominant assumption in neuroscience is the division of cognitive labour ‎across brain regions. Memory researchers investigate the temporal lobe. ‎Likewise, vision researchers focus on occipital areas. Challenging this ‎status quo, this project investigates the role of memory areas in ‎perception and the role of visual areas in memory. By making a functional ‎link from perception towards memory, we make significant progress in ‎understanding how these functions interact as well as in treating deficits. ‎The research will improve understanding of the healthy organisation of ‎memory, perception and the underlying causes of common diseases and ‎age-related decline resulting in cognitive impairment.‎A/Prof Matthew Mundy 
White matter connectivity in Friedreich Ataxia: A Cross-‎sectional MRI StudyFriedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a spinocerebellar degenerative disorder ‎that results in abnormalities of white matter integrity. This magnetic ‎resonance imaging (MRI) project will investigate the delineation of ‎the white matter pathways of the brain in FRDA by performing ‎streamlines tractography. It will further explore the structural ‎connectivity alterations in both FRDA and control subjects and ‎analyse the correlation between the white matter connectivity and ‎behavioural measures in both groups. ‎Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis and Dr Rosita Shishegar 
Neuronal basis of consciousness (computational project)‎In this project, we will investigate the neural basis of conscious ‎through the extensive analysis of the behavioural, ‎electrophysiological or brain imaging data, which were already ‎collected by other researchers, in order to empirically test key ‎theories of consciousness. ‎
For this project, extensive knowledge and experience in Matlab ‎programming is necessary. Open to students with double degree with ‎Engineering,  Computer Science, Information Technology and/or Math.  ‎
A/Prof Naotsugu Tsuchiya 
Neuronal basis of consciousness (psychological project)‎In this project, we will investigate the neural basis of conscious ‎through psychophysical testings of healthy human subjects, ‎primarily through visual tasks that were already programmed by ‎somebody else with minor modifications. ‎
Strong motivation to learn the neural basis of consciousness and to ‎learn Matlab through task modification and data analysis are highly ‎preferred. ‎
A/Prof Naotsugu Tsuchiya 
Cortical gyrification and risk-taking in late adolescenceThe transition from adolescence to young adulthood is a tumultuous ‎period both behaviourally and neurodevelopmentally. Neural, ‎behavioural and social changes during this key period often set the ‎stage for patterns that influence a person’s entire life. Although risk-‎taking is adaptive in adolescence, there is very large variability in ‎both the propensity towards risk-taking and the severity of risk ‎behaviours that young people engage in.‎

This project forms part of a large multimodal longitudinal study of ‎the neural bases of risk-taking. In this project, we will implement ‎novel metrics of cortical gyrification and examine their relationship ‎with behavioural measures of risk-taking in late adolescence. ‎
Dr Sharna Jamadar, Dr Rosa Shishegar 
Are the broad cognitive improvements seen with tDCS in healthy controls a result of general or ‎specific effects? ‎Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has been shown to improve a range of thinking skills, ‎including learning, memory, decision-making and mathematical ability. While there has been a lot ‎of excitement about tDCS and its ability to improve people’s thinking skills, it is not clear if tDCS is ‎specifically affecting these thinking skills or more generally improving the speed at which ‎information in processed – irrespective of the task. The aim of the proposed research project is to ‎investigate whether the broad improvements seen across cognitive domains following tDCS in the ‎healthy population are a result of general or specific effects.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): A/Prof
Kate Hoy; Cognitive Therapeutics Program Leader, MAPrc

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Dr
Bernadette Fitzgibbon
 
Impact of type and timing of childhood trauma on adult cognition and emotion regulating in ‎borderline personality disorder (BPD)‎‎ Childhood trauma is reported in the majority of people who develop borderline personality ‎disorder, also described as 'Complex Trauma Disorder'. Trauma at different neurodevelopmental ‎periods can have a significant impact on brain development and it has been recently reported that ‎trauma experienced at different neurodevelopmental periods can have different impact on brain ‎development and subsequently different impacts on cognitive performance and emotion ‎regulation. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of type and timing of childhood trauma ‎on adult cognition and emotion regulating in borderline personality disorder. This project is part of ‎an ongoing project and you will be able to build on an existing dataset.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Caroline Gurvich ‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s):  Prof Kulkarni and Dr Natalie Thomas
 
Cognitive functioning and emotion processing associated with perimenopausal depressionHormones have an influence on the way we think and feel. The menopause transition is a time of ‎significant hormonal changes. Mood changes, including anxiety and depression as well as ‎sensitivity to stress, are frequently reported during the menopause transition (or perimenopause). ‎Cognitive changes are also described, such as forgetfulness and difficulties organising thoughts. ‎The aim of this study is to look at the relationship between mood, cognition and emotion ‎processing during the menopausal transition. This project is part of an ongoing project and you will ‎be able to build on an existing dataset.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Caroline Gurvich

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Prof Kulkarni and Ms Emmy Gavrilidis
 
The Heart Side of the Brain: Examining the effect of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on ‎the autonomic nervous systemRepetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a treatment for depression that is also being ‎explored to treat a several other psychiatric disorders. While there has been a lot of research on ‎the effect of rTMS on psychiatric symptoms, cognition and neurobiology, few studies have ‎investigated the effect of rTMS on the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Such investigation is ‎warranted given the increased risk of cardiovascular disease and ANS abnormalities in people with ‎psychiatric disorders. In a healthy cohort, this study aims to evaluate the effect of a single session ‎of rTMS on the ANS (using an ambulatory heart-rate monitoring device).‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Manreena Kaur

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Bernadette Fitzgibbon, Prof Paul Fitzgerald
 
How do people with schizophrenia view the impacts of cognitive impairment and approaches to ‎addressing this?‎Cognitive impairment is experienced by approximately 85% of people with schizophrenia, is one of ‎the strongest predictors of impaired functioning, and is an aspect of difficulty many want help with. ‎Despite this and the development of an array of pharmacological, psychological and behavioural ‎interventions aimed at enhancing cognition in people with schizophrenia, cognitive rehabilitation is ‎rarely offered as part of routine practice. This study will conduct semi-structured interviews with ‎adults with schizophrenia to explore their experience of cognitive impairment and how this ‎impacts, what has been done to compensate for or improve this, and what they want from ‎cognitive rehabilitation.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Stuart Lee ‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Narelle Warren, Prof Susan Rossell‎
 
The neurobiology of borderline personality disorderBorderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition that remains poorly understood. This study is ‎designed to explore neurophysiology and neuroplasticity in BPD and will help to inform treatment ‎approaches (including those used at our research centre). This study will employ a non-invasive ‎brain stimulation technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with ‎electroencephalography (EEG). EEG will be used to record neural activity elicited by TMS. You will ‎receive plenty of support in learning these techniques. You will have an excellent and highly ‎motivated supervisory team to draw on for research support and clinical expertise.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Robin Cash (Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre)‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Prof Paul Fitzgerald, Prof Jayashri Kulkarni, Dr Natalie Thomas
 
Enhancing plasticity induction using brain stimulationNeuroplasticity can be induced or measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This ‎project aims to test a novel paradigm to advance existing mechanisms of plasticity induction. ‎Electroencephalography (EEG) will be used to record neural activity elicited by TMS. These novel ‎paradigms may be used to enhance cognitive function e.g. for memory. You will receive plenty of ‎support in learning these techniques. You will have an excellent and highly motivated supervisory ‎team to draw on for research support and clinical expertise.‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Robin Cash (Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre)‎

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Prof Paul Fitzgerald
 
Exploring cognition and personality and its role in pain modulation following transcranial Direct ‎Current Stimulation (tDCS)‎There is substantial inter-individual variability in the experience of pain and response to pain ‎treatments, most likely as a reflection of pain as a complex mosaic made up of sensory, emotional ‎and cognitive components. Types of non-invasive brain stimulation, including transcranial Direct ‎Current Stimulation, have shown to change the experience of pain. However, individual ‎characteristics that may influence the effects of tDCS on pain modulation are unknown. In this ‎study, we will explore the role of personality and pain-related cognitions in the response to tDCS. ‎PRIMARY SUPERVISOR(s): Dr Bernadette Fitzgibbon

ASSOCIATE SUPERVISOR(s): Associate Professor Kate Hoy
 
Substance Use and Acquired Brain Injury – systematic review of ‎treatment compliance and engagement in rehabilitation ‎Many individuals with an acquired brain injury, such as a stroke or ‎traumatic brain injury, experience significant and long lasting ‎physical, cognitive, behavioural and emotional impairments. These ‎outcomes are associated with reduced quality of life for the ‎individual and burden on loved ones. As such, engagement with ‎rehabilitation and treatment is a key goal in their recovery. ‎However, problems with substance abuse may negatively impact ‎upon their ability to engage with such treatment programs. This ‎project will involve conducting a systematic review of studies which ‎have examined compliance/ engagement in rehabilitation for ‎populations with acquired brain injury and substance abuse. We ‎will also conduct a meta-analysis if there is scope. ‎Prof Jennie Ponsford & Dr Kathryn Biernacki ‎ 
Mapping the human connectomeThe human brain is an extraordinarily complex network, made of billions of neurons connected by trillions of fibres. A number of projects are on offer that aim to understanding brain connectivity networks in both health and mental illness, how networks adapt to different cognitive challenges, and how network organization is influenced by genes.A/Prof Alex    FornitoPhD
Honours
Mapping and manipulating cortical networks using non-invasive brain stimulationThe brain consists of billions of neurons, densely connected in local and global networks. TMS, a non-invasive form of brain stimulation, can be used in combination with other neuroimaging techniques (EEG, DTI, fMRI) to assess how changes in neuronal excitation/inhibition contribute to network organisation, and how networks contribute to fundamental cognitive processes (i.e. memory) and mental illnesses (i.e. schizophrenia). Various projects using these highly novel techniques are on offer, including mapping and understanding the role of brain regions within wider networks, understanding the role of neural plasticity in shaping networks, and investigating brain activity and networks supporting learning and memory.A/Prof Alex Fornito
Dr Nigel Rogasch 
PhD
Honours
Effort-based decision-making and treatment motivation in methamphetamine usersThis project has two aims: (1) to compare effort-based decision-making (willingness to expend effort to obtain related rewards), measured with objective tasks, in individuals with methamphetamine use disorders versus non-drug using controls; (2) to examine if effort-based decision-making performance is associated with clinical measures, such as motivation for treatment, apathy and depression, among methamphetamine users.  A/Prof    Antonio Verdejo-Garcia
Dr Trevor Chong
Honours
Motivation and reward in obesityObesity is a common condition which is thought to involve altered brain responses to reward. This project will investigate the willingness of obese individuals to exert effort for food or other rewards, and compare their decisions to those of lean individuals. It is anticipated that this project will form the basis for future functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies to determine how decision-making pathways in obese individuals are modulated by reward.A/Prof Antonio Verdejo-Garcia
Dr Trevor Chong
Honours
Individual differences in distraction by actionAction information produced by humans or animals when they move is one of our most important sources of social information. However, we all differ in how well we perceive action (i.e. biological motion). Differences in how we pay attention to biological motion are partially a causative factor behind the large individual differences in biological motion perception. We will investigate these attentional differences. We will recruit healthy individuals and conduct experiments on attention and biological motion, and link them to individual differences in social preferences. (For PhD, DPsychClin, DPsychNeuro projects, we also aim to test this in people diagnosed with ASD).A/Prof Jeroen van BoxtelPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Investigating behavioural phenotypes for ADHD with new methodsThere is a well-investigated behavioural phenotype for ADHD: people with ADHD have a right-shifted attentional bias. This is often investigated with detection tasks and reaction times. This project is aimed at developing new techniques in typically-developing individuals to investigate this bias, but with methods based on ambiguous stimuli that are known to be biased by attention.A/Prof Jeroen van BoxtelHonours
When increased attention decreases performanceWhen the brain is stimulated over a prolonged period of time, it will adapt. Adaptation occurs at various levels within the visual system. We are interested in adaptation to human action. Human actions are build up of the movements of individual joints. Therefore, adaptation could happen at the action-level or at the joint-level. We are interested in individual differences in action (holistic) vs joint (focussed) adaptation, and to link this to autism spectrum traits in the typically-developing population. (For PhD, DPsychClin, DPsychNeuro projects, we will also test this in people diagnosed with ASD).A/Prof    Jeroen van BoxtelPhD
PhD(Clinical)
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
When increased attention decreases performanceWe have several projects that investigate the influence of attentional tasks on conscious visual perception. Intuitively, we all feel that paying attention to something will increase the visibility of that thing. However, we recently showed that there are occasions where increased attention actually decreases visibility. In these projects, we will investigate and delimit the conditions in which these paradoxical influences occur, and we aim to find a functional explanation, and develop a theory, for why attention decreases visibility in some cases.A/Prof Jeroen van BoxtelPhD
Honours
The costs and benifits of noisy brains The brain is an inherently noisy system. Brain-generated (i.e., internal) noise is a random fluctuation in neural response that is not part of a signal. How a noisy brain produces stable perception is unclear. While most scholars believe in the importance of internal noise in determining the function-and dysfunction-of the nervous system, perception and behaviour, there is a lack of clear measures of noise.
Wide ranges of individual perceptual differences are notable in various situations, such as sports, visual rehabilitation, and combat, because in these situations the brain is operating near the limits of its capacity where noise has a large impact. Internal noise has also been proposed as a differentiator between the typical and some clinical populations (e.g. ASD and schizophrenia). Thus, understanding the cost of internal noise has a large potential impact on society.
While noise is expected to degrade perception in general, noise can actually improve perception, for example, by pushing a subthreshold signal past threshold. Therefore, there is an optimal amount of noise for each task. This optimal amount of the noise varies across individuals as it is determined by both external and internal noise, the latter of which varies across individuals. Thus, knowing how noise operates can aid in achieving a person's maximum capacities. Therefore, there is a large potential gain in understanding the benefits of noise on perception.
To better understand how individual performance depends on internal noise, this project seeks to develop new tasks, and new computational models, and measure human performance, to obtain deeper insights into the cost/benefits of noise on human perception and decision making.
A/Prof Jeroen van BoxtelPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Elucidating the pathophysiological signature of visual snowVisual snow (VS) refers to the constant visual experience of flickering dots or static that resembles the ‘snow’ of a poorly-tuned television. Migraine commonly occurs alongside VS, and in some ways resembles migraine aura. Unfortunately, migraine medications do little to help people suffering this often debilitating condition, leading many to consider that VS might be a psychogenic in origin. Recent imaging research, however, suggests that VS has a neurobiological basis,  that does not appear to overlap completely with migraine or migraine aura. This implies that alternate treatment strategies are needed. Using a range of behavioural and imaging measures, this research will take an important step in understanding how brain function is altered in patients with VS and in helping to determine whether it is a migraine- or aura-related condition, or a distinct disorder.A/Prof    Joanne Fielding
Dr Meaghan Clough
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Healthy Ageing of Perceptual LearningA dominant assumption in neuroscience is the division of cognitive labour across brain regions. Memory researchers investigate the temporal lobe. Likewise, vision researchers focus on occipital areas. Challenging this status quo, this project investigates the role of memory areas in perception and the role of visual areas in memory. By making a functional link from perception towards memory, we make significant progress in understanding how these functions interact as well as in treating deficits. The research will improve understanding of the healthy organisation of memory, perception and the underlying causes of common diseases and age-related decline resulting in cognitive impairment.A/Prof    Matthew MundyPhD
Honours
Strength and duration in perceptual learningThis project will examine how different human brain areas process and store information about visual stimuli that are critical building blocks for physical and social interactions (objects, scenes and faces). The project will also examine the durability of the encoded information across time, with the aim of understanding how memories are formed (or not) of these important stimuli.A/Prof Matthew MundyPhD
Honours
Visual processing in body image concernRecent neurocognitive and behavioural research suggests that, along with genetic and environmental influences, abnormal visual processing mechanisms are implicated in Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This appears to manifest as a bias toward bottom-up, local processing, to the detriment of more global representations of stimuli. This bias is thought to relate to a maladaptive fixation on small body details, which is commonly reported in BDD: local scrutiny may lead to a belief that such areas are flawed in some way, exacerbated by a lack of global bodily context. The project will examine this contention in individuals with varying body image concern.A/Prof Matthew MundyPhD
PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Consciousness in remote animals and artificial systems using integrated information theoryInference of conscious experience in animals (e.g., dogs, cats, rats, flies, and even plants) has fascinated humans.  Recent development of artificial intelligence has rapidly transforming questions about consciousness in artificial systems from philosophical curiosity into empirical problems to be tackled. One of the existing theories of consciousness, called Integrated Information Theory, provides promising approaches to address consciousness in remote animals and artificial systems.  We will test Integrated Information Theory, from theoretical and empirical point of views, employing mathematical tools (e.g., information theory, graph theory, machine learning, multivariate analysis, measures of causality) and applying them to real neural recordings,  anatomical data, or wiring diagrams of artificial systems.  Strong background in either mathematics, computer science, physics, or significant experience in dealing with multi-channel neural data are desirable.  Enthusiasm for consciousness and excellent skills in Matlab are necessary. A/Prof    Naotsugu TsuchiyaPhD
Functional connectivity analysis of local field potentials recorded in animal brainsIn this data analysis project, a student is expected to analyze the functional connectivity using Granger Causality of local field potentials, which was recorded in several animal models (e.g., cats' somatosensory cortex, rats' auditory cortex) using multiple array electrodes. The goal of the project is to try to test of the pattern of connectivity represents the external stimuli, and how they are affected by the kinds of stimuli, sensory system, and the states of consciousness (awake vs anesthetized). Extensive experience in using Matlab is necessary. All the data has been collected.A/Prof Naotsugu TsuchiyaPhD
Honours
Measuring processing Speed and Accuracy in people diagnosed with Mild Cognitive ImpairmentCognitive performance profiles based on processing speed and accuracy are able to predict and monitor pathological progressions for various conditions in adults including, possibly, the decline into various forms of dementia. Computerised tasks are especially suited to detect these performance profiles. This project aims to explore if these profiles exist in older people diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Furthermore, this project investigates the reactions of these older participants to different computerised administration methods. Findings will influence the further development of the computerised test and inform the prediction and monitoring of pathological processes in people with MCI based on processing speed and accuracy. Dr    Irene Lichtwark
A/Prof Margaret Hay
Honours
Measuring Processing Speed and Accuracy in Young PeopleCognitive performance profiles based on processing speed and accuracy are able to predict and monitor pathological progressions for various conditions in adults. Computerised tasks are especially suited to detect these performance profiles. This project aims to explore if these profiles exist in young people with chronic illness, and if there are age specific variations within the profiles. Furthermore, this project investigates the reactions of the participants to different computerised administration methods. Findings will influence the further development of the computerised test and inform the prediction and monitoring of pathological processes in young people based on processing speed and accuracy.Dr    Irene Lichtwark
A/Prof Margaret Hay
Honours
Effect of aerobic exercise on cerebral blood flowOne of the mechanisms by which exercise may protect against neurodegeneration is via its effects on the cardiovascular system and the associated changes in vascularisation and blood flow to the brain. This project will involve analysis and manuscript preparation of an existing dataset (and potentially the opportunity to collect additional data). Arterial spin labelling images were obtained from an MRI scanner for quantification of cerebral blood flow before and after acute high-intensity interval exercise. Students who are technically minded with a background and interest in biopsychology / neuroscience / physiology are encouraged to apply.Dr James CoxonHonours
Effect of driving cortical oscillations on procedural motor skill learningMotor skills are acquired through deliberate practice and engage a network of brain regions involved in sustained attention and motor control. Cortical oscillations are an important signature of communication within brain networks. This project will investigate whether non-invasive brain stimulation (tACS) can entrain particular brain rhythms (alpha and beta) to enhance procedural motor skill learning. Students who are technically minded with a background and interest in biopsychology/neuroscience/physiology are encouraged to apply.Dr James CoxonPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Role of supplementary motor cortex in selective response inhibitionThe brain has an emergency brake mechanism conferring us the ability to rapidly stop an initiated action when suddenly deemed inappropriate. Research over the past decade has established that the mechanism underlying response inhibition is non-selective, affecting not just those responses that require inhibition but other actions as well. These stopping interference effects are correlated with fMRI signal in the supplementary motor cortex and its structural connectivity with the basal ganglia. This project will involve the use of non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS) to transiently disrupt ongoing neural processing (a ‘virtual lesion’) with the aim towards establishing causality. Students who are technically minded with a background and interest in biopsychology / neuroscience / physiology are encouraged to apply.Dr James CoxonPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Modulation of prefrontal cortex inhibition during motor skill learning.Learning a new and complex motor skill engages many brain regions, with a shift from anterior to more posterior regions as learning progresses. Modulation of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in primary motor cortex is known to gate synaptic plasticity and is critical for skill learning, but whether GABA modulation in prefrontal cortex is also critical for skill learning is unknown. This project will examine inhibitory potentials in prefrontal cortex during skill learning using the combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG). Students who are technically minded with a background and interest in biopsychology / neuroscience / physiology are encouraged to apply.Dr    James Coxon
Dr Nigel Rogasch
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Modulation of prefrontal cortex inhibition during motor skill learning.Learning a new and complex motor skill engages many brain regions, with a shift from anterior to more posterior regions as learning progresses. Modulation of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in primary motor cortex is known to play an important role in plasticity and motor learning, but whether GABA modulation is critical to learning in other brain regions is unknown. This project will examine inhibitory potentials in prefrontal cortex during skill learning using the combination of transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG). Students with a background including neuroscience or physiology are encouraged to apply.Dr James Coxon
Dr Nigel Rogasch
Honours
The influence of attentional selection on perceptual decision making Decision-making is the process through which sensory information is transformed into appropriate action and is critical to cognitive performance. This project aims to test the causal role of attentional selection in human decision-making. This aim will be achieved by interfacing multi-modal techniques from cognitive neuroscience including MRI, EEG, and simultaneous TMS-EEG, while participants perform a decision-making task. The outcome will be mechanistic understanding of the neural processes by which attention influences decision- making. This is important as decision-making can be compromised in a variety of everyday circumstances (uncertainty, time pressure, stress) and enhancing attention may prove a viable remedial strategy. Students with a background and interest in any of biological psychology/neuroscience/physiology are encouraged to apply.  Dr James CoxonProf Mark BellgrovePhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)PhD(ClinPsych)
Effect of aerobic exercise and non-invasive brain stimulation on plasticity and motor learning in Parkinson's disease 

Even though Parkinson's disease (PD) can be managed with dopaminergic replacement therapy, most patients continue to experience a range of motor and non-motor symptoms. Non-pharmacological approaches are increasingly being recognised as important adjunct therapies to enhance the function and quality of life of PD patients. Aerobic exercise and non-invasive brain stimulation are two promising approaches. This project aims to examine how exercise and non-invasive brain stimulation can be used to augment plasticity and motor learning in patients with PD. Students with a strong interest in neuroplasticity, learning, and neurodegenerative disease are encouraged to apply. Although not necessary, an undergraduate profile including any combination of biopsychology/neuroscience/physiology would be ideal.

Dr James Coxon Dr Trevor Chong Dr Sophie AndrewsPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)PhD(ClinPsych)
Cortical control of balance in humans Falls in the elderly reduce independence and quality of life, and have huge healthcare cost implications. Balance assessment and training programs to prevent falls need to be developed in order to reduce falls incidence rates. However, patient and therapist ratings of balance task difficulty are often highly discordant. This project will examine the cortical correlates of increasingly difficult challenges to balance using electroencephalography (wireless-EEG), and the effects of ageing. 

Dr James Coxon

Mel Fairly

Prof Terry Haines

 Honours
Can brain training improve cognitive and academic outcomes in children born extremely preterm?Previous studies suggest computerised cognitive training programs (brain training) can improve academic functioning for some children. We have conducted a randomised controlled trial of a computerised working memory training program compared with a placebo program in a cohort of children born extremely preterm, who are at-risk for impairments in working memory and associated functions including academic performance. Children participated in baseline testing and were then followed up over a 2-year period, which included neuroimaging, cognitive, academic and behavioural assessments. Opportunities are available for Honours student projects. Dr    Megan Spencer-Smith
Prof Peter Anderson
Honours
Processing speed in children born very pretermIt has been reported that processing speed is reduced in very preterm children, and could at least partly explain their deficits in executive functioning and academic achievement. However, it is not known whether the magnitude of processing speed deficits decreases with increasing age in very preterm survivors. Furthermore, while it has been speculated that slower reaction times in this population are related to cerebral white matter pathology, this has not yet been investigated. This study will utilise data from the Victorian Infant Brain Study (VIBeS) longitudinal cohort (224 children born very preterm & 70 term born peers), which has measured simple and choice reaction time at 7 and 13 years of age, and has brain MRI data in the neonatal period, 7 and 13-years. It is hypothesised that 1) group differences (very preterm vs term controls) in processing speed will diminish with increasing age; 2) those with persisting processing speed deficits will perform more poorly on measures of executive functioning and academic functioning; and 3) reaction time will be related to neonatal white matter injury and concurrent white matter integrity.Dr    Megan Spencer-Smith
Prof Peter Anderson
Honours
Brain training in paediatric populationsComputerised cognitive training programs (brain training) can improve attention problems and academic performance for some children. We have opportunities for PhD/DPsych and Honours students to work on a series of studies that examine whether brain training works, who does it work for, and under what conditions. The main focus of the studies will be to investigate the effects of working memory training on children's cognitive, academic and behavioural outcomes in randomised controlled trials.Dr    Megan Spencer-Smith
Prof Peter Anderson
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Agenesis of the corpus callosum: characterising cognitive and behavioural outcomes The corpus callosum is the largest cerebral commissure and a major white matter pathway that transfers and integrates information between the two hemispheres. Developmental absence (agenesis) of the corpus callosum is a congenital brain malformation resulting from complete or partial disruption of callosal fibres to form connections between the hemispheres. We have a unique cohort of children with agenesis of the corpus callosum who have completed cognitive and behavioural testing as well as neuroimaging. Opportunities are available for neuroimaging studies and longitudinal follow-up.Dr    Megan Spencer-SmithA/Prof Amanda WoodPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)PhD(ClinPsych)
Honours
Cognitive rehabilitation practices following traumatic brain injuryCognitive impairments represent the greatest impediment to individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI), therefore, cognitive rehabilitation is vital. While several sets of guidelines for cognitive rehabilitation are available, little is known about current practice by therapists working with individuals with TBI. This study will compare current practice by therapists working with individuals with TBI in Australia vs. therapists based overseas. 

Prof Jennie Ponsford

Dr Marina Downing

Honours
Examining the effectiveness of memory rehabilitation techniques following strokeDespite 50% of stroke survivors experiencing memory difficulties, a limited evidence base exists to guide which memory rehabilitation methods are most effective in this population this population. The aim of this research will be to examine the comparative effectiveness of emerging and existing memory rehabilitation methods following stroke.Dr    Rene Stolwyk
Dr Dana Wong
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Computerised cognitive training in Huntington's DiseaseAnnouncing an opportunity for a PhD student to work with individuals with Huntington's disease on a cognitive brain training study. Huntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that impacts on motor functioning, behavioural-emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. Because of the importance of normal cognitive functioning for daily life, effective strategies that can preserve cognitive function in patients with Huntington's disease are critical. Computerised cognitive training (popularly known as ‘brain training') is a safe and efficacious intervention to improve and maintain cognition in people with brain disorders. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a non-invasive technique used to measure the naturally occurring electrical activity of the brain, and can discern the activities of specific areas of the brain and the relationships between these brain areas during cognitive training tasks. This project is the first clinical trial of cognitive training in Huntington's disease individuals, using EEG to characterise whether brain training intervention increases compensatory brain mechanisms, neural capacity and brain plasticity. This novel approach may be beneficial in terms of delaying clinical onset of disease and increasing quality of life. The student will utilise the new purpose-built EEG facilities at the Monash Biomedical Imaging centre in Clayton, and have the opportunity to learn a range of techniques, including state-of-the-art EEG, cognitive training and neuropsychological testing techniques. A prospective PhD student interested in this opportunity must have outstanding undergraduate results, together with a strong first class Honours degree or postgraduate degree in psychology, clinical neuroscience or related disciplines. A scholarship top-up opportunity of $3,000 per year, for three years, will be available for outstanding candidates who have met the academic requirements and have been successful at a competitive scholarship. The student will be based within the Experimental Neuropsychology Research Unit, with supervision from Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis (Monash University) and co-supervision from Dr Amit Lampit (University of Sydney).Prof    Nellie Georgiou-KaristianisPhD
Identification and evalution of multi-modal neuroimaging biomarkers for Huntington's DiseaseAnnouncing an opportunity for a PhD student to work on computational image analysis of a pre-existing imaging dataset of Huntington's disease. Huntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that impacts on motor and cognitive functioning, and behavioural-emotional regulation. Neuroimaging biomarkers are used to better understand brain structure and function in Huntington's disease. Integrating multi-modal imaging techniques can lead to more sensitive biomarkers that could assess the efficiency of treatments in Huntington's disease aimed at delaying, reversing or preventing neural degeneration and associate onset of symptoms. The successful PhD candidate will be based within the Experimental Neuropsychology Research Unit, with supervision from Professor Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis (Monash University) and co-supervision from Dr Rosita Shishegar (Monash University). The student will have the opportunity to: * Have access to a rare pre-collected longitudinal imaging dataset * Gain advance knowledge of Neuroimaging modalities, including structural MRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion weighted imaging (DWI), and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) * Learn a range of image analysis tools.Prof    Nellie Georgiou-KaristianisPhD
White matter connectivity in Friedreich Ataxia: A Cross-sectional MRI Study  Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a spinocerebellar degenerative disorder that results in abnormalities of white matter integrity. This magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) project will investigate the delineation of the white matter pathways of the brain in FRDA by performing streamlines tractography. It will further explore the structural connectivity alterations in both FRDA and control subjects and analyse the correlation between the white matter connectivity and behavioural measures in both groups.Prof    Nellie Georgiou-KaristianisHonours
Impact of sex differences in inattentive behaviours and mental health - A developmental studyThe Spotlight Project is a longitudinal study which aims to identify how early inattention impacts the emerging cognitive landscape in children as they enter school for the first time, between Prep and Grade 2. Although inattention affects both genders, most of the research to date has focused on males. Of those that have included gender, the majority have assessed children with clinical disorders of attention such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), rather than the general population of children. Anxiety in children may also have a strong influence on attention and concentration within the classroom setting. It is still unclear how behavioural and cognitive inattention may cluster differently between boys and girls, and how anxiety may differentially influence attention and learning.  Therefore, an important aim of the project is to determine how gender influences the relationships between cognitive attention, behavioural inattention, anxiety, literacy and numeracy.Prof Kim CornishPhD
EEG correlates of attention control in childrenThe Spotlight Project is a longitudinal study concerned with how behavioural and cognitive attention impact the acquisition of numeracy and literacy as children start school. Attention difficulties may have an insidious impact of learning outcomes, but the precise mechanisms of how attention impacts the learning of numeracy and literacy across development is unclear. This project will use EEG and eye-tracking to gain greater insight into children's attention. We know that specific neural networks for cognitive attention develop at different rates, but how each network may be related to learning outcomes is unknown. By examining the underlying brain activity during performance of cognitive tasks, we will be able to map functioning of the brain to cognitive attention functioning, and to behavioural attention control, literacy and numeracy skills. Eye-tracking will provide a measure of physiological arousal, on top of the behavioural and cognitive measures of attention. This project will study how these relations change as children develop between Prep and Grade 2.Prof Kim CornishPhD
The influence of attention control on the development of English as a second languageThe Spotlight Project is a longitudinal study concerned with how behavioural and cognitive attention impact the acquisition of numeracy and literacy as children start school. Attention difficulties may have an insidious impact of learning outcomes, but the precise mechanisms of how attention impacts the learning of numeracy and literacy across development is unclear. In multicultural Australia, many children starting school will speak a language other than English at home. It has been reported that bilingual children perform better than monolingual children on tasks of attention control and inhibitory control. How attention control and inhibitory control may influence the acquisition of English literacy and pragmatic language skills in children speaking a language other than English at home is unclear. This project will study the relations between attention and the acquisition of English as a second language, and how this may change as children develop between Prep and Grade 2.Prof Kim CornishPhD
Interactive Attention Training Technology to Enhance Cognitive Skills in Early Childhood Over 30,000 Australian children enter school with attention difficulties each year. Professor Kim Cornish and Dr Hannah Kirk have established a suite of touchscreen tasks to train core attention skills in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. These adaptive tasks form an adaptive training program known as TALI Train. TALI Train was developed by the team at Monash University in collaboration with software engineers, web developers and game developers. The research team at Monash, along with collaborators at MCRI now aims to design and develop additional training tasks to help improve cognition, behaviour and learning in children with acquired brain injuries.
The successful candidate will be based within the Child and Adult Development Lab at Monash University, with supervision from Professor Kim Cornish and Dr Hannah Kirk. The student will have the opportunity to:
- design novel and engaging training tasks
- work with industry partners
- evaluate the efficacy of the training task via gold standard clinical trials 

Prof Kim Cornish Dr Hannah Kirk

PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)PhD(ClinPsych)
 Predictors of Treatment Outcome in Cognitive Training for Children With and Without Neurodevelopmental Disorders Cognitive training has become a popular non-pharmacological intervention to alleviate cognitive and behavioural difficulties experienced in childhood. Researchers at Monash University were the first to develop a game-based portable attention training program (TALI Train) for young children experiencing difficulties concentrating and paying attention at school. This program has been shown to be effective in improving aspects of attention and learning in children with neurodevelopmental disorders and was recently trialed in typically developing children. Although some positive effects of cognitive training have been reported in the wider literature, there is still significant inconsistencies about the efficacy of this relatively new intervention approach. Therefore, greater research is required to assess the full benefits and constraints of cognitive training for both clinical and non-clinical child populations. One of the most important questions to assess is whether this this treatment approach is beneficial for all children or whether there are specific groups of children that will benefit the most. Using data from our previous randomised controlled trials, this project aims to explore whether demographic variables and initial cognitive abilities predict or moderate transfer treatment outcomes of cognitive training. 

Dr Hannah Kirk

Prof Kim Cornish

Honours
The role of rare non-coding microRNA variants in autismCharacterize the role of a rare loss-of-function microRNAs found in Australian families with autism spectrum disorder. We have recently identified a number of miRNA gene and miRNA target site mutations using high-efficiency whole genome (exome) sequencing of 50 Australian families with ASD (An et al. 2014). In these families we found over 40,000 single nucleotide variations (SNVs) occur in miRNA genes and/or their predicted target sequences. Among these variants we identified three putative rare loss-of-function miRNAs. These miRNAs were found to be highly expressed in the prefrontal cortex which is a brain a region significantly associated with autism .Prof Charles Claudianos
Prof Mark Bellgrove
Dr Ziarih Hawi
PhD
Characterising memory following traumatic brain injuryThis project will require the student to examine Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT) profiles. The RAVLT is one of the most common neuropsychological measures used to assess memory in neurological disorders. The student will examine differences as well as similarities in learning rate on the RAVLT learning trails and relationship with delayed memory.Prof    Jennie Ponsford
Dr Marina Downing
Honours
Pharmacology of impulsivityImpulsivity is an important but complex construct in psychopathology and neuroscience. This project will develop a battery of tasks to deconstruct impulsivity into its essential cognitive elements and link these to distinct neuropharmacological systems. Healthy subjects will perform a range of impulsivity tasks under different drug conditions, such as those designed to agonise or antagonise the dopamine D2 receptor.Prof Mark Bellgrove
A/Prof Antonio Verdejo-Garcia
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Motivation and Learning in ADHDAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a common neuropsychiatric disorder which has been linked to significant deficits in reward-based motivation and learning. This project aims to characterise these deficits in adult patients with ADHD, and to compare their performance to healthy, age-matched controls. Prof Mark Bellgrove
Dr Trevor Chong
Honours
Pharmacology of cognitionAlthough knowledge of the biological contributions to cognition is increasing rapidly, we still lack detailed knowledge regarding how chemical systems in the brain regulate cognitive processes such as attention, cognitive control, motivation and reward.  Our team uses pharmacological challenge methods in both healthy human volunteers and in patients populations (ADHD; Parkinson's Disease) in combination with physiological recording (EEG; fMRI) to further our understanding of the pharmacology of cognition.  We can offer a range of potential projects and interested candidate should contact Professor Bellgrove or Dr Chong directlyProf Mark Bellgrove
Dr Trevor Chong
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
The Genetics of Attention and ADHDWe know that individual differences in how people pay attention and disorders of attention, such as ADHD, are highly heritable.  Work in our laboratory seeks to identify the specific genetic variations that give rise to individual differences in cognitive abilities, such as attention, and how such variation might increase risk for ADHD.  By studying as either an honours or PhD student in our laboratory, you will join an ambitious group of researchers working at the cutting edge of international efforts to map the genetics of cognition and disorders of cognition.  A background in genetics is not required. We welcome applicants with multidisciplinary backgrounds in any of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, biology, genetics, molecular biology or pharmacology.   Specific project topics can be discussed directly with Professor Mark BellgroveProf Mark Bellgrove
Dr Ziarih Hawi
Dr Janette Tong
Dr Beth Johnson
PhD
Honours
Influence of short wavelength light on the electrophysiology of attentional lapsesAttentional processes such as sustained attention are known to be critically influenced by arousal levels. We have recently studied the influence of short wavelength light (blue enriched white light) on the electrophysiological correlates of spatial selective attention. This project extends this work to ask whether prior exposure to blue enriched white light can ameliorate attentional lapses during sustained attention tasks and also modulate its associated electrophysiology, measured using EEG.Prof Mark Bellgrove
Prof Shantha Rajaratnam
PhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours
Pathophysiological mechanisms of Huntington’s diseaseHuntington's disease is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterised by changes in movement, thinking and mood, which are caused by dysfunction of important brain circuitry. Despite increased knowledge over the last three decades about the progressive brain changes, we still lack critical insights into the underlying function of neurons before they die, and how this contributes to the range of symptoms observed in affected individuals. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that is capable of investigating the function of neurons within key brain circuits. This project involves a longitudinal transcranial magnetic stimulation study, aiming to further characterise the trajectory of neurophysiological decline in Huntington's disease, particularly in the "premanifest" years prior to the emergence of overt symptoms. This novel approach may be beneficial in terms of improving early diagnostic and treatment outcomes for this incurable disease. The successful PhD candidate will be based within the Experimental Neuropsychology Research Unit and utilise the new purpose-built facilities at the Monash Biomedical Imaging centre in Clayton. The candidate will have the opportunity to learn a range of techniques, including brain stimulation, electroencephalography and cognitive testing.Prof    Nellie Georgiou-KaristianisPhD
Mapping Structural Brain Changes in Friedreich Ataxia: A Longitudinal MRI StudyFriedreich ataxia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that results in debilitating motor impairments and more subtle cognitive abnormalities. Atrophy of the cerebellum and spinal cord are known to underpin these dysfunctions. However, our recent work using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has provided novel indications that structural changes also exist in the cerebral cortex. This project will build on these cross-sectional findings to map the longitudinal progression of cerebral aberrations and determine how these changes relate to deterioration of motor and cognitive functions. Sensitive image processing techniques will be applied to MRI data previously collected through a large-scale neuroimaging project (IMAGE-FRDA).Prof Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis
Dr Ian Harding
Honours
Motivation and Decision NeuroscienceMotivation is central to many aspects of health and society. When we decide to perform an action, we often need to balance the benefit of performing that action against the costs associated with it. What are the neural mechanisms that underlie cost-benefit decision-making in healthy individuals, and how does dysfunction in these circuits give rise to the disordered decision-making in patient populations (such as those with Parkinson’s disease)? This research program aims to use a combination of behavioural, computational, pharmacological and neuroimaging techniques to better understand the neural circuitry of motivated decision-making in health and disease.Dr Trevor Chong PhD
Does the complexity of the driving environment influence older driver errors?On-road assessments have been described by driving rehabilitation specialists as the ‘gold standard’ for determining a drivers’ true ability. The electronic Driving Observation Schedule (eDOS) was developed within the Candrive-Ozcandrive older driver cohort study to enable systematic and reliable observations of on-road driving behaviour, as well as to monitor changes in driving behaviour over time. 227 Ozcandrive participants completed the eDOS driving task in Melbourne, which commenced from their home and was conducted in their own vehicle on roads familiar to and chosen by them. Observations of participants’ driving behaviours (both appropriate and inappropriate) during the eDOS driving task were recorded for intersection negotiation, lane-changing, merging, and low speed manoeuvres. Data collection is complete and a database of driving behaviours, as well as video footage of the driver and the driving environment is available to students for in-depth analysis. Example topic for Honours projects include:
  • Does the complexity of the driving environment influence inappropriate driving behaviour (i.e., errors)?
Dr Sjaan Koppel
A/Prof Jude Charlton
PhD
Honours
Driver aggression and older driversDriver aggression, defined as deliberate behaviours designed to intimidate other road users, is increasing on Australian roads. Previous research suggests that aggressive driving is more common in younger male drivers and this can result from expressions of anger or be symbolic of a risky driving style. There is relatively little research investigating driver aggression in older drivers, which may be a consequence of the low levels of anger and aggression reported by this cohort. However, while these drivers may not directly engage in aggression, they may be the recipients of driver aggression and this may negatively affect their driving experience and their driving confidence. This is an important area of research, given Australia’s ageing population and the expectations of increased licensing rates and motor vehicle use by older drivers in the future. Example topic for Honours projects include:
  • Are older drivers the perpetrators of driver aggression? How often are older drivers the recipients of driver aggression? Does driver aggression negatively affect older drivers’ driving experience and driving confidence?
Dr Sjaan Koppel
Dr Amanda Stephens
PhD
Honours
Using Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) data to identify driver engagement in distracted drivingThe Australian Naturalistic Driving Study (ANDS) aims to understand driving behaviour in normal and safety-critical situations. A range of driving behaviour measures, including driver-vehicle interaction (including in-vehicle and portable technologies), vehicle-occupant interaction and interactions with other road users and the road infrastructure, and driving performance measures (e.g., braking, steering etc) have been collected during participants’ real world motor vehicle trips. Data collection is due to be complete in March 2017, and a database of driving behaviour and driving performance measures will be available to students for in-depth analysis. The aim of this Honours project is to identify, using a sub-set of video and vehicle data from the ANDS, the types of distracting activities drivers engage in when driving; how often and for how long they engage in these tasks; how the distracting tasks affect driving behaviour; and if driver willingness to engage in distracting tasks differs across different road and traffic conditions.Dr Sjaan Koppel
A/Prof Jude Charlton
Dr Kristie Young
PhD
Honours
Using Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS) data to understand drivers’ behaviour and risk-taking at intersections

The Australian Naturalistic Driving Study (ANDS) aims to understand driving behaviour in normal and safety-critical situations. The aim of this study is to determine how drivers handle and adapt to hazards such as negotiating busy intersections that do not have traffic lights, and other difficult driving situations such as pedestrians unexpectedly crossing the road or other drivers engaging in risky behavior. A range of driving behaviour measures, including driver-vehicle interaction (including in-vehicle and portable technologies), vehicle-occupant interaction and interactions with other road users and the road infrastructure, and driving performance measures (e.g., braking, steering etc) have been collected during participants’ real world motor vehicle trips. Data collection is due to be complete in March 2017, and a database of driving behaviour and driving performance measures will be available to students for in-depth analysis. Example topics for Honours projects include:

* How do drivers behave at intersections? Does their behaviour differ across intersection complexity (i.e., controlled vs. uncontrolled intersections)? Does intersection complexity influence risk-taking behaviours?

Dr Sjaan Koppel
A/Prof Jude Charlton
Dr Kristie Young
PhD
Honours
Has the involvement of SBRT impacted on the behaviours for which the referral was made?Neuropsychological models of executive function have been developed predominantly for use in young to middle aged people with injuries diseases or disorders that involve the frontal lobes. The assessment of executive function in people with dementia is difficult and there exist few tools for this purpose. In this project you will be involved in a project designed to assess the ability of a modified hidden pathway maze learning test to assess executive function in older adults with dementia.A/Prof Steve MacfarlaneHonours
Has the rate of prescription of psychotropic medications changed as a result of SBRT involvement?

SBRT has electronic access to medication records of our referrals at intake. The rates of prescription of benzodiazepines and antipsychotics at intake will be determined, and the average dose of each agent converted to diazepam and chlorpromazine equivalents to enable like-with-like comparison.

The project will involve analysis of psychotropic medication data from November 2015-November 2016. Students will be involved in data cleaning, conversion, and in the collection of medication records at the time of discharge from SBRT.

A/Prof Steve MacfarlaneHonours
Has pain management improved as a result of SBRT involvement? The amount of prescribed analgesia for all SBRT referrals is captured at point of service intake. All our referrals undergo an assessment that includes administration of the Abbey Pain Scale.The project will involve administration of the Abbey Pain Scale, and chart audit of our clients’ analgesia prescription at point of first assessment and at discharge. Opiate medications will be converted to morphine equivalents to enable like-withj-like comparison.A/Prof Steve MacfarlaneHonours
Visuospatial deficits in multiple sclerosis Commonly seen in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), internuclear ophthalmoplegia (INO) is a disorder of gaze in which the affected eye shows impairment of adduction. This project will investigate the extent to which:
1. deficits attributed to spatial (in)accuracy in MS patients are driven by the presence of INO
2.deficits attributed to visuo-spatial memory impairments in MS patients are driven by the presence of INO
A/Prof    Joanne Fielding Honours
Relationship Between Dynamic Functional Connectivity and Cognition in Ageing $5,000p.a. top-up scholarshipResting-state fMRI is emerging as a powerful biomarker for neural dysfunction in neurodegenerative and psychiatric illnesses. Most studies examine resting-state functional connectivity a static state across the entire scan period, however recent advances in image acquisition have made it possible to examine dynamic changes in functional connectivity. These ‘dynamic functional connectivity' analyses have shown that variability in network connectivity is not random, and fluctuations give rise to highly structured patterns of connectivity that emerge and dissolve over tens of seconds. The flexibility with which an individual switches between states may be indicative of disease or cognitive decline (Damaraju et al., 2014). This PhD project will examine the link between cognition and dynamic resting-state functional connectivity in a longitudinal large (n=559) healthy aged sample, the NHMRC-funded ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly Neuro (ASPREE-Neuro) study. ASPREE-Neuro forms part of the larger n=19,000 NIH- and NHMRC-funded ASPREE study. The successful candidate will have an undergraduate degree in psychology, neuroscience, biomedical imaging or related discipline, and will have strong computational skills. The successful candidate will be eligible for a $5,000 per annum (3 years) top-up scholarship. The student must have an RTP/APA or equivalent scholarship to be eligible for the top-up scholarship (scholarship rounds typically close in May and October for domestic applicants). Please forward expressions of interest and questions to Dr Sharna Jamadar. For EOIs, please include a cover letter (1 page) with a brief outline of your interests and suitability for the project, a curriculum vitae including academic transcript and any published work, and names and contact details of two references.Dr Sharna Jamadar, Dr Phillip Ward, Prof Gary Egan PhD
Cognitive control in adolescence and young adulthood: Multimodal image analysis study PhD Top-Up Scholarship ($5,000/3 years; $15,000 in total). A multimodal computational imaging study that examines cognitive and neural development in healthy young people. The main focus of the research will be to characterise developmental trajectories of cognitive control in typically-developing young people by jointly modeling multiple measures of behaviour, brain cortical morphometry, and brain functional/structural connectivity. A particular focus of this project will be linking longitudinal changes in cerebral gyrification to changes in cognition in young adulthood.
The successful PhD candidate will be based at Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience and Monash Biomedical Imaging in Melbourne, with supervision from Dr. Sharna Jamadar (Cognitive Neuroscience, Monash University) and co-supervision from Dr. Rosita Shishegar (Computational Neuroscience, Monash University) and A/Prof. Frini Karavanidis (Head, Functional Neuroimaging Lab, University of Newcastle).
The student will have the opportunity to:
-Have access to a pre-collected longitudinal imaging dataset;
-Work on a multi-disciplinary, multi-university project funded via the Australian Research Council (ARC);
- Gain advance knowledge of Neuroimaging modalities, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI, resting state connectivity and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI);
-Be provided with knowledge and training to use a range of image analysis tools.
Successful candidates will be eligible for a $5,000 per annum (3 yrs) top-up scholarship. The student must have an RTP/APA or equivalent scholarship to be eligible for the top-up scholarship (scholarship rounds typically close in May and October for domestic applicants).
Please forward expressions of interest and questions to Dr Sharna Jamadar. For EOIs, please include a cover letter (1 page) with a brief outline of your interests and suitability for the project, a curriculum vitae including academic transcript and any published work, and names and contact details of two references.
Dr Sharna Jamadar,
Dr Rosita Shishegar
 PhD
Neuroinflammation in Neurodegenerative Diseases Chronic neuroinflammation is thought to directly contribute to the progressive brain degeneration underlying disorders such as Huntington's, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's diseases. However, evidence of the relationship between inflammation and degeneration in the living brain remains scarce. This project will use cutting-edge, simultaneously acquired MRI and PET brain imaging techniques to investigate whether neuroinflammation represents a viable mechanism, biomarker, and therapeutic target in one or more of these diseases. 

Dr Ian Harding

Prof Gary Egan

PhD
Cerebellar Contributions to Cognition Cerebellar contributions to non-motor functions are now well-established. But the exact role and importance of cerebellar function and connectivity for executive functioning remains illusive. This project will use a combination of functional neuroimaging and neuromodulation techniques to investigate human brain connectivity between the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and cerebrum and its links to cognitive functioning. Dr Ian HardingPhD
PhD(ClinNeuro)
Honours

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