Psychology Colloquium: Laureate talks by Dr Caitlin Cowan & Dr Stephanie Wong (School of Psychology – University of Sydney)
Please join us for a special two-part colloquium, with Laureate talks by two NHMRC Investigator Grant winners in our School:
- Dr Caitlin Cowan – Title: “The developing microbiome as a predictor and modulator of mental health risk and resilience: A translational gut-brain axis approach to improving childhood mental health”. Project Summary: A child’s development sets the pathway for their adult functioning. Mental health is no exception, with the majority of psychological disorders having their roots in childhood or adolescence. Currently, our gold-standard treatments for childhood psychopathologies are effective for only half of individuals, meaning there is a dire need for new approaches to this problem. My project will test the hypothesis propose that gastrointestinal microorganisms (collectively known as the microbiome) contribute to psychological risk or wellbeing by shaping the gut-brain axis during critical periods of development.
- Dr Stephanie Wong – Title: “Challenging behaviours in dementia: mechanisms, assessment and interventions”. Project Summary: When most people hear about dementia, memory loss is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, memory impairment is only one symptom of dementia. Other symptoms, such as apathy, eating disturbances, socially inappropriate behaviour and poor financial judgment, are also common. These behavioural symptoms account for high levels of carer burden, greater functional decline and reduced quality of life. The neurobiological mechanisms of these symptoms are not well understood, and existing treatments show limited efficacy. My research program will examine how maladaptive reward processing mechanisms give rise to diverse behavioural symptoms in dementia, while also developing and implementing new assessment and intervention approaches in patients and carers. This research will enhance knowledge and health outcomes in the therapeutic management of behavioural symptoms in dementia and will be applicable to challenging behaviours arising from other forms of brain injury and neurodegeneration. In the absence of disease-modifying treatments or cures, such advances are urgently needed to improve the prognosis and quality of life of people living with dementia.