Lisa Furlong is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. Previously, she completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) degree at La Trobe University. She then worked as a clinician in the mental health/alcohol and other drug field for 18 months in regional Victoria, which allowed her to appreciate the difficulties that individuals with mental health disorders can experience.
Lisa’s strong analytical skills and curiosity drove her to pursue research into the neurobiological basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. She completed a Master of Neuroscience (Advanced) at the Australian National University in 2017, where she investigated thalamic morphology in Huntington’s disease using magnetic resonance imaging, before commencing her current research at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre.
The purpose of this project is to characterise the neural processes involved in face and emotion processing in bipolar disorder (BD). Neuropsychological, clinical, magnetic resonance imaging and magnetoencephalography (MEG) data from 35 BD participants will be compared to that of 35 controls, to determine if there are differences in the structure of, and connections between, the face and emotion processing networks of the brain.
The specific aims of this research are;
- To understand the pattern of brain activity within regions of the face and emotion processing networks in BD, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and MEG neuroimaging techniques;
- To characterise the structural integrity of the pathways that connect the face and emotion processing regions of the brain in BD, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and;
- To examine the relationship between brain structure and function within the face and emotion processing networks in BD, using a combination of DTI, fMRI and MEG neuroimaging techniques.
Neuropsychological data will include cognitive and clinical outcome measure scores, and will be analysed in conjunction with the neuroimaging data. DTI, fMRI and MEG neuroimaging methods will be used to investigate the structure, functional activity and connectivity within and between nodes of the face and emotion processing networks. Examining the neurobiology of the facial emotion processing networks in BD may lead to targeted treatments that address these impairments, with positive downstream effects on mood regulation and psychosocial functioning.
For more information about the study, please visit our website: https://cogsbd.weebly.com/
Supervisors: Dr Tamsyn Van Rheenen, Dr Vanessa Cropley, Dr William Woods and Dr Matthew Hughes