The Neurostimulation and Interventional Psychiatry Team investigates novel ways to treat depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders, including new brain stimulation techniques, ketamine, and psychedelic-assisted therapies. Led by Professor Colleen Loo, we are an integrated research team with expertise across basic neuroscience, clinical psychiatry, neuropsychology, clinical policy and practice. Our team is based at the UNSW Discipline of Psychiatry & Mental Health and the Black Dog Institute. We also collaborate closely with The George Institute for Global Health and the Ramsay Northside Clinic.

Our goals

  • Developing and optimising new treatments for depression and other mental health conditions, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) and other forms of transcranial electrical stimulation, new forms of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), Ketamine and Psychedelic assisted therapies, and translating these research findings into clinical practice/policy.
  • Investigating new non-invasive brain stimulation modalities for cognitive enhancement and the treatment of cognitive impairment, including novel stimulus waveforms and combination treatments with concurrent cognitive training or psychotherapy.
  • Use electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to improve understanding of the pathophysiology and characteristics of depression, cognitive dysfunction and other psychiatric disorders, along with mechanisms of action for the therapies used to treat these conditions.

Key Themes & Projects


Clinical trials and interventional studies

We conducted the first randomised controlled trials of TMS (1999), tDCS (2010), ketamine (2014),  ECT (2014) and tRNS (2020) in Australia, for the treatment of depression. We also conducted the world’s first RCTs testing bilateral TMS and multiple TMS sessions per day for the treatment of depression. We recently completed the world’s largest RCT of racemic ketamine as a pharmacological treatment for treatment resistant depression, and developed a comprehensive framework for monitoring the safety of ketamine treatment (Ketamine Side Effect Tool). Our research findings have informed Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist (RANZCP) guidelines on ECT, TMS, tDCS and ketamine treatment.

Our current clinical studies include:

  • The Randomised Controlled Trial of Frontoparietal and Temporoparietal ECT for Severe Depression: The RAFT ECT Study [Lead: Prof Colleen Loo]
  • The Trial of Enhanced Neurostimulation for Anorexia (TRENA) [Lead: Dr Donel Martin]
  • Treatment Resistant Depression Intervention with Psilocybin-assisted Psychotherapy (TRIP) [Lead: Dr Michael Millard. Co-leads: Dr Jonathan Brett, Dr Adam Bayes, Prof Colleen Loo)


Clinical Alliance and Research in ECT and related treatments (CARE) Network [Co-leads: Prof Colleen Loo & Dr Donel Martin]. doi:10.1097/YCT.0000000000000435

The CARE Network is an international collaboration involving >50 hospitals aimed at improving clinical practice and furthering research in ECT, TMS, tDCS and ketamine treatments, via the use of a standardised data collection framework. The CARE data collection framework assists services with improving clinical care and complying with data collection requirements. Collation and analysis of these real-world clinical data also produces findings that inform treatment guidelines and translation of research into clinical practice.

Resources developed by the CARE Network:

  • 10 item post ECT orientation:  doi:10.1097/YCT.0000000000000455
  • Brief ECT cognitive screen: doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.12.023
  • Ketamine Side Effect Tool: doi:10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.120

Contact for further information:


Neuroscience research [Lead: Dr Stevan Nikolin. Co-lead: Dr Adriano Moffa]

We undertake diverse research in basic neuroscience to improve non-invasive brain stimulation techniques and their therapeutic application in neuropsychiatric conditions.

Current projects include:

  • Developing concurrent TMS and EEG as a technique to understand the effects of brain stimulation, including initiating the TMS-EEG Collaboration, an international cooperative network of researchers to facilitate data sharing and collaboration
  • Investigating the roles of key brain regions (e.g., prefrontal and inferior frontal cortices, pre-supplementary motor area, cerebellum) in modulating central executive functions using brain stimulation, cognitive tasks and EEG.
  • Optimising transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) parameters using cognitive tasks and EEG.

Contact for further information: Dr Stevan Nikolin (

  • Developing a novel approach for targeting the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) based on performance outcomes of a cognitive task.
  • Computational modelling for investigating effects of brain stimulation, in collaboration with UNSW Biomedical Engineering

Contact for further information: Dr Donel Martin (


Neurocognition research [Lead: Dr Donel Martin]

We develop novel interventions for cognitive enhancement and for treating cognitive impairment.

Current projects include:

  • Individualising rTMS for cognitive enhancement
  • Investigating methods to enhance the cognitive effects of brain stimulation therapies
  • Investigating the cognitive enhancing effects of psychedelics

Contact for further information: Dr Donel Martin (

Research strengths

  • Integrated, multidisciplinary research team comprised of clinical academic psychiatry, neuropsychology, neuroscience, statistics, and qualitative researchers.
  • Diverse expertise across clinical psychiatry, EEG, basic neuroscience,  neuropsychology, clinical trials, clinical policy and practice.
  • Access to research facilities, including hospital facilities for clinical research, multimodal research lab integrating brain stimulation, EEG, neuronavigation, and neuroimaging facilities.
  • Strategic domestic and international partnerships and established collaborators in clinical psychiatry, clinical pharmacology, biomedical engineering, clinical trial methodology, .
  • Supervisory experience for ILP, Honours, Master and PhD students.