Cognitive and behavioural neuroscience

Neuroscience research in the Department of Psychology and Counselling takes an interdisciplinary approach, with research spanning from molecular/cellular through to behavioural and cognitive neuroscience. Research groups focus on:

  • The interaction between the immune system and behaviour
  • The biological basis of neuropsychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia
  • The neuronal circuits controlling emotional behaviour
  • Visual neuroscience, including the molecular neurobiology of vision and the cognitive neuroscience of perception

Neuroscientists at La Trobe have a state-of-the-art behavioural neuroscience core facility and use a range of range of technical approaches including; histology, immunohistochemistry, and neurochemistry; virally-mediated gene delivery; small animal biotelemetry; molecular interaction analysis; electrophysiology; electromyography (EEG); transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetoencephalography (MEG); and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Cognitive and behavioural neuroscience research topics currently available for research students include:

Research topicResearchers
The mechanisms of visual perception and how these mechanisms are affected in disorders. The cognitive and neural mechanisms of prosopagnosia. The use of the broader autism phenotype in modeling ASD for the purposes of understanding how visual perception is affected. Projects include the use of visual psychophysics, eye-tracking, and / or functional magnetic resonance imaging Philippe Chouinard
Cognitive and behavioural neuroscience in selective visual and cross-modal attention in typically developing individuals and neurodevelopmental disorders (ASD, reading and intellectual disability) and adult neurological conditions Sheila Crewther
The role of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the control of emotional states such as anxiety and in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases like depression Matthew Hale
Behavioural neuroscience; behavioural and physiological correlates of life history strategy in humans; trait mindfulness and the acute stress response Agnes Hazi
Psychoneuroimmunology, especially sickness behaviour (e.g., fever, loss of appetite) in animal models. Behavioural, endocrine and immunological consequences of calorie restriction. Behavioural and physiological consequences of breast cancer. Links between maternal immune infection and schizophrenia-like changes in offspring Stephen Kent
Cognitive and behavioural neuroscience Melanie Murphy
Cell metabolism, Gene expression, Neuroscience, Proteomics and intermolecular interactions, Systems biology Nina Riddell
Mouse models of methamphetamine psychosis. Role of BDNF in rat and mouse models of schizophrenia and depression. Molecular mechanisms in gene-environment interactions in psychosis. Role of the BDNF val66met polymorphism in cognition and sensory gating in humans Maarten van den Buuse 
Atypical hemispheric lateralisation and interhemispheric communication in clinical disorders and sub clinical syndromes (ASD, AQ traits, depression, schizotypy, dyslexia) Annukka Lindell
Identifying early markers of autism spectrum disorder in young children with neurofibromatosis type 1; Effects of physical and exercise interventions on improving executive functions in children with developmental disabilities; Enhancing movement skills using immersive games technology assisted interventions in children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Darren Hocking

Project pages

The Psychology of Seeing in Autism

Looking is the eyes gathering information while seeing is the integration of this information. Atypical visual integration may lead to problems in successful functioning. In the case of autism, this may manifest in difficulties seeing the forest for the trees, favouring details at the expense of the bigger picture.

Developmental Neuromotor and Cognition Lab

Maturation of executive function, dual-task processing and motor control in children with typical and atypical development