BSc Psychol (Hons) (UNSW); M Clin Neuropsych (Macquarie University); PhD (UNSW)
Dr Nicole Kochan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), University of NSW and a Clinical Neuropsychologist. She is the Principal Investigator of the NHMRC funded CogSCAN project, Leader of the Neuropsychology streams of two large population studies of cognitive health and neurodegeneration– the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study and the Sydney Centenarian Study, and is a core member of CHeBA’s international consortia of cohort studies of ageing - COSMIC, STROKOG and ICC-Dementia. She is the Neuropsychologist on the research teams of three large randomised control intervention trials in cognitive ageing and Mild Cognitive Impairment– Maintain Your Brain; BRAIN training: Balance, Resistance or Interval training in Mild Cognitive Impairment; MetMemory: Preventing cognitive decline with Metformin.
Nicole's background is in Clinical Neuropsychology with a particular interest in cognitive ageing, decline and dementia. She completed a Masters in Clinical Neuropsychology at Macquarie University in 1998 and a PhD in the School of Psychiatry in 2011 examining the utility of functional MRI in older persons with Mild Cognitive Impairment. She was the recipient of an NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (2012-2016).
Her research interests include investigating methods to improve early detection of cognitive decline and dementia using traditional psychometric measures, sensitive normative data and new innovations in computerised cognitive testing. She is also interested in identifying determinants of inter-variability amongst elders, specifically, the risk and protective factors that contribute to different cognitive trajectories over the course of the lifespan, as well as associations of intra-individual variability (IIV) in cognitive performance (moment-to-moment fluctuations on a reaction time task) with future dementia risk and mortality.
Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) Travel Fellowship, 2013
Gordon Parker Award for Best Publication (PhD), School of Psychiatry, UNSW Medicine, 2012.
Dean’s List for PhD research, Faculty of Medicine, 2011
ISTAART Student Fellowship, the Alzheimer’s Association, 2011
Trainee Abstract Travel Award, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, 2008
International Junior Investigator Award, the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology, 2007
Chief Investigator (H), NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grant. Preventing cognitive decline with metformin: a randomized control trial 2019-2024.
Chief Investigator (A), NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grant. Cross-comparison, validation and performance of computerised neuropsychological assessment devices in the evaluation of mild cognitive impairment and dementia 2017-2020.
NHMRC Early Career Research Fellowship (Health Professional) (Part-Time). Improving clinical diagnosis of mild neurocognitive disorders using neuropsychological assessment 2013-2016.
Principal Investigator, Computerised neuropsychological testing for early diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC) Project Grant 2013-2014.
Principal Investigator, Australian Neuropsychological Normative Study of Older Persons, Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC) Project Grant 2012-2013
Chief Investigator (C), A cognitive and neuroimaging study of exceptionally old age: Sydney Centenarian Study, NHMRC Project Grant 2010-2013
Chief investigator (A), Functional MRI investigation of the neural processes underlying Mild Cognitive Impairment, a Research Project Grant for Mental Illness awarded by the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund 2006 – 2008
Training in Research Fellowship, NSW Institute of Psychiatry, NSW Department of Health 2006
Current research projects include:
CogSCAN (Study of Computer-Administered Neuropsychological tests in seniors) funded by an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Project Grant. CogSCAN will be the first study to systematically evaluate and compare several of the most prominent and widely used computerised neuropsychological assessment batteries in cognitively healthy older adults and in persons with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Objective assessment of cognitive abilities is essential for accurate diagnosis of dementia at mild or early stages. Traditionally, this is performed by specialist neuropsychologists using lengthy pen and paper neuropsychological test batteries, but these services are limited and associated with high healthcare costs. Computerised neuropsychological assessments have received considerable attention in recent years. Potentially CNAs are more time- and cost-effective, scalable, accessible, precise and can be administered by people with less expertise. But can CNAs improve timely diagnosis of dementia over pen and paper tests? There is limited information about the usability of these tests, and their validity and reliability in the older population. This type of information is critical before we can use these tests in the clinic. We anticipate the findings from CogSCAN will move the field forward and have a major impact on the practice of cognitive testing in older adults with suspected cognitive decline.
Australian Neuropsychological Normative Studies - We are undertaking a number of studies with seed funding from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC - Assessment and Better Care) with the aim of developing normative neuropsychological data for older Australians for several commonly used cognitive tests to improve early identification of cognitive impairment in older adults.
How does memory work and how you can improve you memory. Community event for seniors. Centre on Ageing Sydney, Bondi Junction, March 2018.
Memory Fitness: Training your brain. Public Health Forum presented by Department of Aged Care Psychiatry, Prince of Wales Hospital. The Juniors, Kingsford, October 2017.
Memory Fitness: How to maximize your memory. Community event for seniors. War Memorial Hospital, September 2017.
Staying brainy. Ansarada corporate presentation, February 2016.
Fluctuations in reaction time linked to dementia risk. Medscape Medical News 12 January 2016.
Stay Brainy. Reader’s Digest Asia Pacific. 1st October 2015.
Can an old dog learn new tricks? Neuroplasticity and improving your memory in older adulthood. Montefiore LIFE magazine, March 2015.
IPads could play role in screening for dementia: Commentary. ‘Neurology update’ on 6minutes.com.au (web news for doctors), 22 October 2014.
Maximise your Memory. Better Brain Better Life. CHeBA Public Forum, UNSW, May 2014.
Maximise your Memory. Better Brain Better Life, Seniors Month Forum. CHeBA, Rockdale, Sydney, March 2014.
Mind your mind. How to have a healthy brain- public forum presented by the Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry, Maroubra, Sydney, November 2011
How do scientists research memory? Brain and Ageing Research Program Information Day – public forum, UNSW, October 2006