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Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health

The Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health (BBMH) Research Group consists of a collection of researchers who together seek to integrate knowledge gained from all types of scientific enquiry, from basic to applied, qualitative and quantitative, in order to better understand the complex interplay between basic structures of the brain, cognitive processes, emotional functioning and behaviour. Research outcomes of the group therefore have relevance to advancing theory and interventions for a number of conditions affecting cognition (e.g. Parkinson’s Disease) as well as those affecting mental health (e.g. depression and anxiety disorders) across the developmental spectrum.

Areas of current interest being pursued by group members include:

  • characterizing and predicting cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s disease;
  • mechanisms underlying dysregulated mood (including depression, anxiety, stress);
  • factors influencing cognitive functioning and intelligence in children and adults (and measurement of IQ in clinical and control populations);
  • social influences on cognition;
  • behavioural analysis in clinical conditions;
  • the relationship between language and cognition;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder;
  • nutritional influences on cognition and behaviour.

Current Projects

  • Mild Cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s Disease: (A. Loftus/Gasson) Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is increasingly acknowledged as a feature of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). MCI has a reported prevalence of 25-30% in non-demented PD and is associated with increased age, disease duration and disease severity. Those with PD-MCI have an increased risk of developing PD dementia (PDD) compared to those without. This study examines the pattern and prevalence of PD-MCI in a non-demented sample.
  • OCD? Not Me! Curtin Online Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder Treatment for young people (Department for Health and Ageing Funded Project 2013-2015) (C.Rees & R.Anderson). A new fully online treatment for young people who have OCD is being developed and tested across Australia. Until now, only limited psychological interventions for young people with OCD were available over the Internet.
  • 2012-2014 Lauren Breen. The caregiver bereavement study: Determining the effect of caregivers’ anticipatory grief on post-bereavement outcome. Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award. $375,000. This project discovers the ‘true’ impact of caregiving and is situated at the forefront of theoretical and methodological innovation. Furthermore, it will enhance the nation’s capacity to provide appropriate services to caregivers pre- and post-bereavement which will promote the wellbeing of the large number of caregivers in our communities.
  • The Great Australian Brain-Training Challenge (F.Baughman, A. Whitworth) By comparing the performance of a large number of individuals on measures of intelligence and cognitive functioning, before and after training this study will determine whether brain-training games really do improve intelligence more generally, or whether they work in more specific ways.