Staff profile

Professor Sheila M

Professor Sheila M Crewther


College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Psychology and Public Health

Department of Psychology and Counselling

Biological Sciences 2 Bulding, room 122, Melbourne (Bundoora)


B Sc Hons, M Sc, Dip Ed. MA UMELB, Ph D Caltech., B.Optom UNSW.



Membership of professional associations

Member Australian Neuroscience Society, Life Member National Vision Research Institute, Member Brain and Behaviour Research Institute, Member Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO

Area of study


Brief profile

Following undergraduate and postgraduate training in Psychology, Comparative Physiology and education at the University of Melbourne, Dr Crewther spent 3 years in Pasadena, California at Caltech studying Psychobiology under Nobel laureate Roger Sperry and Professor Jack Pettigrew.

On return to Australia in 1978, she took up a Senior Research Officer position at the National Vision Research Institute in Carlton, associated with the Dept. of Optometry, University of Melbourne and stayed there until 1983 when she moved to the School of Optometry at the University of N.S.W with her husband. While there Dr crewther worked as a half-time Senior Research Fellow in the areas described below, completed an Optometry degree and raised three small children, initiated and jointly coordinated a tertiary-primary educational initiative - the Vision Education Centre which brought hundreds of children into the University for a scientific excursion and a vision examination.   Dr Crewther was made an Adjunct Associate Professor in 1994. In the second half of 1996 she moved back to Victoria and  took up a lectureship in the School of Psychological Science at La Trobe University and is fostering her interest in how the visual system drives behaviour.   Her research interests lie in understanding how vision drives and organizes behaviour. Her research techniques are in the area of Visual Neuroscience. There are three major strands. The neuroscience of parallel visual pathways in human is being studied through both electrophysiological and psychophysical techniques. Using temporal analysis of the visual evoked potential we have recently found a means of largely separating the contributions of the magno and parvocellular pathways on the basis of differing neural recovery rates. These techniques are being applied to the study of visual attention and to the role of parallel processing in dyslexic children and to ocular and visual disease.   A second strand is the control of refractive state and the role of environmental influences on eye growth. The third area concerns the neural loci and mechanisms which underlie developmental abnormalities in binocular vision and specifically strabismic amblyopia - a functional loss of visual acuity due to a misalignment of the eyes.

Research interests

Cognitive and developmental psychology

- Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience.

- Molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying nature-nurture interactions in humans and animals.

- Selective visual and cross-modal attention in healthy children and adults and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Recent publications

Yin ZQ, Deng ZM, Crewther SG, Crewther DP. (2001) Altered expression of alternatively spliced isoforms of the mRNA NMDAR1 receptor in the visual cortex of strabismic cats. Molecular Vision 7: 271-276.

Beresford JA, Crewther SG, Kiely PM, Crewther DP.. (2001) Comparison of refractive state and circumferential morphology of retina, choroid, and sclera in chick models of experimentally induced ametropia. Optom & Vis Science 78(1):40-9.

*Kiely PM, Crewther SG, Crewther DP. (2001) Is there an association between functional vision and learning to read? Clinical & Exp. Optom 84, 346-353.

Luu CD, Foo H, Crewther SG, Crewther DP. (2001) Effects of a non-steroidal (Ketorolac trometamol) and a steroidal (dexamethasone) anti-inflammatory drug on development of refractive errors Clin Exp Opthalmol 29:175-178.

Conduit R, Crewther SG, Coleman G. (2001). Poor recall of eye-movement signals from NREM sleep compared to REM: Implications for models of dreaming. Sleep, 24, 181.

*Kiely PM, Crewther SG, Crewther DP. (2002) Vision and learning to read. (Letter) Clinical & Experimental Optometry 85(4):260-2

Junghans B, Kiely PM, Crewther DP, Crewther SG. (2002) Referral rates for a functional vision screening among a large cosmopolitan sample of Australian children. Ophthal & Physiol Opt 22, 10-25.

Conduit R, Crewther SG, Bruck D, Coleman G. (2002) Spontaneous eyelid movements (ELMs) during human sleep: A possible ponto-geniculo-occipital analogue? J Sleep Res 11, 95-104.

Conduit R, Crewther SG, Coleman G. (2002). Shedding old assumptions and consolidating what we know: Toward an attention-based model of dreaming. Book of Behavioural Brain Sciences 23 (6), 924-928.

Crewther DP, Luu CD, Crewther SG. (2002) Separation of contour and area dependent components in the first and second order kernels of the multifocal pattern appearance evoked potentials. Clin Exp Ophthal 30(3): 231-4.

*Rutkowski J, Crewther DP, Crewther SG. (2002) Normal Readers have an Upper Visual Field Advantage in Change Detection. Clin Exp Ophthal 30(3): 227-330.

*Lawson ML, Crewther SG, Blume-Tari A, Guminsky M, Perdikeas N, Roebuck G, Simmonds S, Crewther DP. (2002) Temporal processing of global and local information varies with global precedence. Clin Exp Ophthal 30(3): 221-6.

Barutchu A, Crewther SG, Crewther DP. (2002) Effects of optical defocus and spatial contrast on anterior chamber depth in chicks. Clin Exp Ophthal 30(3): 217-20.

Crewther DP, Crewther SG. (2002) Refractive compensation to optical defocus depends on the temporal profile of luminance modulation of the environment. Neuroreport 13(8):1029-32.

Luu CD, Kiely PM, Crewther DP, Kowal L, Crewther SG. (2003) Central and peripheral vision loss associated with nefazodone usage. Doc Ophthalmol 106(3):319-25

Crewther SG. Crewther DP. (2003) Inhibition of retinal ON/OFF systems differentially affects refractive compensation to defocus. Neuroreport 14(9): 1233-7.

*Rutkowski JS, Crewther DP, Crewther SG. (2003) Change detection is impaired in children with dyslexia. Journal of Vision 3(1): 95-105.

*Hecht R, Crewther DP, and Crewther SG. (2004) Rate of Learning and Asymptotic Performance in an Automatization Task and the Relation to Reading.Perceptual and Motor Skills 90: 1103-1121

Conduit R. Crewther SG. Coleman G. Poor recall of eye-movement signals from Stage 2 compared to REM sleep: implications for models of dreaming. Consciousness & Cognition. 13:484-500, 2004.

Liang H. Crewther SG. Crewther DP. Junghans BM. Structural and elemental evidence for edema in the retina, retinal pigment epithelium, and choroid during recovery from experimentally induced myopia. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 45:2463-74, 2004.

Crewther DP. Luu CD. Kiely PM. Kowal L. Crewther SG. Clinical application of the multifocal visual evoked potential. Clinical & Experimental Optometry. 87:163-70, 2004.

Conduit R. Crewther SG. Coleman G. Spontaneous eyelid movements (ELMS) during sleep are related to dream recall on awakening. Journal of Sleep Research. 13(2):137-44, 2004

Junghans BM, Crewther SG. Little evidence for an epidemic of myopia in Australian primary school children over the last 30 years. BMC Ophthalmology 2005, 5:1 doi:10.1186/1471-2415-5-1

Lawson ML, Crewther SG, Junghans BM, Crewther DP, Kiely PM. Changes in ocular accommodation when shifting between global and local attention. Clin Exp Optom 2005; 88: 1: 28-32

Cotton SM, Crewther DP, Crewther SG. Measurement error: Implications for diagnosis and discrepancy-models of developmental dyslexia. Dyslexia 2005, 11930: 186-202.

Cotton SM, Crewther SG, Kiely PM, Crewther DP, Milano V, Thomson B, Laycock R. A normative and reliability study for the Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices for primary school aged children from Victoria, Australia. Personality and Individual Differences, 39: 647-659.