Cognition and brain connectivity in psychosis

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Department
Psychiatry
Location
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Ms Cassandra Wannan cwannan@student.unimelb.edu.au

Summary The aim of this project is to determine whether impairments in episodic memory, attentional set-shifting, and spatial working memory are related to disrupted brain connectivity (as measured by MRI-derived structural covariance; see Wannan et al, 2019) in key regions associated with performance on these tasks in individuals with first-episode psychosis.

Project Details

Individuals with schizophrenia typically experience cognitive deficits that impact on their ability to function independently (Pantelis, Wannan, et al, 2017). It has been hypothesized that the cognitive deficits observed in individuals with schizophrenia are related to disruptions in the brain regions and neural circuits that underpin higher-order cognitive abilities, involving memory and executive abilities. The brain regions implicated involve especially the frontal and temporal lobes (including medial temporal structures) and their connections. The aim of this project is to determine whether impairments in episodic memory, attentional set-shifting, and spatial working memory are related to disrupted brain connectivity (as measured by MRI-derived structural covariance; see Wannan et al, 2019) in key regions associated with performance on these tasks in individuals with first-episode psychosis. Given that cognitive deficits are one of the strongest predictors of functional impairment in schizophrenia, identifying the particular networks involved in these abilities may be an important first step towards identifying potential underlying mechanisms or treatment targets for cognitive deficits that lead to impaired functioning in psychosis.

The student will be responsible for conducting a literature review of the area, the development of the proposal and generation of specific study hypotheses, as well as segmentation of cortical and subcortical brain structures, and statistical analysis.

References

  • Pantelis, C.*, Wannan, C.*, Bartholomeusz, C. F., Allott, K., & McGorry, P. D. (2015). Cognitive Intervention in Early Psychosis – Preserving abilities versus remediating deficits. Current Opinion in Behavioural Sciences, 4(Themed issue on Cognitive Enhancement (Ed. B. Sahakian & A. Kramer)), 63-72. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2015.02.008
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2015.02.008
  • Wannan, C. M. J., Cropley, V. L., Chakravarty, M. M., Bousman, C., Ganella, E. P., Bruggemann, J. M., Weickert, T. W., Weickert, C. S., Everall, I., McGorry, P., Velakoulis, D., Wood, S. J., Bartholomeusz, C. F., Pantelis, C.*, & Zalesky, A.* (2019). Evidence for Network-Based Cortical Thickness Reductions in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry, 176(7), 552-563. doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.18040380


Faculty Research Themes

Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry



Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

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

Department

Psychiatry

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre Research

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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