A brain based model of anxiety sensitivity in panic disorder

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Project Status
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Ben Harrison habj@unimelb.edu.au (+613) 83441959 Personal web page
A/Prof Chris Davey c.davey@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page

Project Details

People with panic disorder are characterised by high levels of anxiety sensitivity (AS) – the specific the fear of bodily anxiety sensations. It is a widely recognized as a core feature of the disorder that contributes to its development, maintenance and treatment.

The central aim of this project is to characterise the neural basis of high AS in people with panic disorder and to determine whether it is predictive of longer-term outcomes assessed via naturalistic follow up. Specifically, we will recruit a group of young untreated individuals with panic disorder and assess them with an experimental protocol that combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), psychophysiological monitoring and advanced neural systems analysis. We will demonstrate that panic disorder is characterised by a selective functional alteration in the neural appraisal of bodily anxiety sensations and that this alteration will predict poorer clinical outcome over a 12-month period.

The significance of this work will be to characterise a core neurobiological feature of panic disorder. Given the existing link between AS and treatment outcomes in this population, our results may inform the discovery of a novel brain systems target with direct relevance to treatment optimisation.

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the supervisor to discuss your options.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.



Research Group / Unit / Centre