Functional Neuroimaging LaboratoryFunctional Neuroimaging

Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory

The Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL) conducts research in the broad area of cognitive and affective neuroscience.

Our work covers themes around the neural basis of human perception, memory, cognition and emotion in healthy individuals, development, ageing and clinical conditions. Our research output contributes to both Neuroscience (1109) and Psychology (1700) fields of research which were rated 'well above world standard' (i.e., ERA rating of 5) in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) round. The FNL consists of a number of labs based at Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses, as well as at the Imaging Centre at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

We conduct basic research that focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms of sensory and cognitive processes in healthy and clinical populations. We also perform translational research with the goal of applying this knowledge to improve interventions, adaptive functioning and outcomes in a range of normative samples (e.g., childhood, adolescence, ageing), and clinical conditions (e.g., schizophrenia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, developmental disorders, dementia). Our current expertise in basic and translational research extends also to applied areas of psychophysiology (i.e. consumer behaviour, biofeedback, neuroeconomics, exercise and sports science) and industry-specific research projects.

Capabilities

FNL features state-of-the-art testing facilities including multiple 64-channel EEG labs (7 EEG systems: BioSemi and Neuroscan), high resolution eye-tracking systems (2 SR EyeLink 1000) and computerised neuropsychological assessment batteries (3 CANTAB systems).

We are affiliated with the Imaging Centre at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), which gives us access to the latest Prisma Siemens 3T scanner with functional (fMRI, ASL, MRS) and structural (e.g., MRI, DWI) imaging capabilities, transcranial current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) equipment, as well as a near-infrared spectroscopy (event-related optical signal, non-invasive optical imaging).

FNL includes multiple testing spaces and well as multiple workstations for EEG and MRI analysis, and research space for doctoral students. We are supported by a number of technical staff with software and hardware expertise.

Collaborations

FNL researchers are affiliated with the Priority Research Centre in Brain and Mental Health (PRC-BMH) and the HMRI. Our researchers collaborate with clinical and basic research staff in the School of Biomedical Sciences, as well both the Calvary Mater Hospital and the John Hunter Hospital.

Internationally, we have close research collaborations with a number of major research institutions, including the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan; the University of Leipzig, Germany; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA; the Institute of Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK; University of Toronto, Canada, USA; Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Israel; Duke University, USA, Philadelphia Children's Hospital, USA.

We also collaborate widely with other research institutions in Australia, including University of New South Wales, NeuRA, University of Wollongong, University of Queensland, Griffith University, University of Melbourne, the Florey Institute, Queensland University of Technology and Macquarie University.

Funding

Our work is funded by national competitive grants from both the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), as well as smaller grant schemes, including the Faculty of Science and Information Technology, the PRC-BMH, Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarships and strong RIBG/CAPEX support.

Research Students

We supervise in excess of 40 research students at Honours, Masters of Clinical Psychology, PhD and Clinical PhD levels. Our students achieve high acclaim and are highly competitive for post-doctoral positions and national/international awards. PhD candidates receive funding support to attend national conferences and at least one international conference during their candidature. Many PhD students are co-supervised by our international collaborators, helping develop strong international connections early in their career.

Publications and Conferences

Our work is disseminated in high impact international research journals, such as the Journal of Neuroscience, Human Brain Mapping, Neuroimage, Schizophrenia Research, Biological Psychiatry, PLoS ONE, Psychophysiology, International Journal of Psychophysiology and Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Psychiatry Research, American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.We disseminate our work at multiple international conferences, including the International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON), Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR), World Congress of Psychophysiology (IOP), Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS), International Neuropsychological Society (INS), among others.

Research Programs

We conduct research in a range of areas related to sensory, cognitive and affective neuroscience, including: