Research interests keywords: Obesity, diet, cognition, adolescence, prefrontal cortex, behavioural control, hippocampus, memory, eating behaviour, mental health, social interaction, associative learning.
My current research involves modeling aspects of “food addiction” in rats and the detrimental impact of junk food diets on memory and cognition. Projects in my lab are highly translational and aim to investigate how diet can change behaviour. I have found that exposure to junk food diets induces memory dysfunction – potentially due to reduced neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) and decreased long term potentiation, and evokes anxiety-like behaviours when it is not accessible. I am also interested in ways of reversing these cognitive deficits, via dietary supplements or voluntary exercise (wheel running). I use a combination of behavioural, pharmacological and molecular techniques.
1. Impact of junk food diets and physical exercise on cognition
2. Impact of adolescent binge eating on addiction-like behaviours and cognition
3. Impact of junk food binge eating on social behaviour
FUNDING: I have received competitive grants from Australian Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Experimental Psychology Society and Universitas 21.
Please contact me if you are a student interested in joining my lab and carrying out an Honours / Masters / PhD project at the School of Health and Biomedical Science, RMIT or just want to gain some research experience in behavioural neuroscience as an undergrad enrolled at RMIT or in other Melbourne universities. For project students I’m looking for people who are dedicated and genuinely interested in neuroscience. I can teach you loads of cool science techniques and impart my immense knowledge of associative learning and behaviour, in exchange you will have to listen to my incredibly entertaining stories of weird stuff I have done in the past.