I use animal models to study the behavioural and neurobiological substrates of attention, learning and memory. I am interested in the factors which regulate these processes in a normal brain, cause disturbances to these processes in a diseased brain, and the implications of these disturbances for disorders like post-traumatic stress (PTSD). In one line of inquiry, I study how basic information is processed in the brain, and how motivational states (like fear) change the way that information is processed. In a second line of inquiry, I study how the brain deals with contrasting information, and the role of context in processing this information.
2020 – 2023 Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. The processing of fear in the medial temporal lobe. ($798,704). Principal Investigator
2020 – 2022 Australian Research Council Discovery Project. Extinction of fears based on learned sources of danger. ($370,000). Lead Investigator
2019 – 2021 Australian Research Council Discovery Project. How an innocuous event never associated with danger becomes frightening. ($335,000). Lead Investigator
2018 – 2020 National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant. Modelling post-traumatic stress in rats: hypervigilance and the spread of fear. ($348,000). Chief Investigator (CIA)
2016 – 2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Project. The neural substrates of false fear memory in rats. ($426,000). Lead Investigator
2015 – 2017 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA). Fear changes how the brain processes innocuous information. ($375,000). Principal Investigator
2015 – 2017 National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant. Oxytocin impairs fear acquisition and enhances fear inhibition: mechanisms of action in the basolateral complex of the amygdala. ($390,000). Chief Investigator (CIB)
Society for Neuroscience (SfN)
Australian Neuroscience Society (ANS)
Australian Learning Group (ALG)
French Neuroscience Society (past)
1. Dana Leidl (Start in 2018). First and second-order fear memories are encoded in overlapping populations of neurons in the basolateral amygdala complex. UNSW Scientia PhD Scholar.
2. Artur Shvetcov (Start in 2018). The molecular substrates of second-order conditioned fear in the basolateral amygdala complex.
3. Francesca Wong (Start in 2018). The role of the perirhinal cortex in the integration of distinct sources of information in a sensory preconditioning procedure.
4. Yvonne Chan(Start in 2018). The roles of the basolateral amygdala complex and infralimbic cortex in extinction and re-extinction of conditioned fear.
5. Omar Qureshi (Start in 2017). The effect of gradually reducing an established CS-US contingency on the subsequent extinction of conditioned responding.
6. Mathew Williams-Spooner (Start in 2017). The conditions under which protein synthesis is required for consolidation of fear memories in the basolateral amygdala complex.
Belinda Po Pyn Lay (2012-16). The role of the basolateral amygdala complex in consolidation of second-order conditioned fear. Jointly supervised with Prof Fred Westbrook.