My research centres around the neurochemical mechanisms underpinning fundamental learning processes, particularly the function of dopamine transmission in learning associations and driving incentive motivation. This research integrates manipulations of neural function (surgery, pharmacological inactivation, DREADDs, optogenetics) and behavioural assays designed to probe the underlying structure of learning and behaviour. The procedures used in this research model aspects of learned behaviour that are observed in psychological disorders such as addiction (e.g. compulsive approach to reward signals), and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s (e.g. impaired directive movement). Elucidating the role of dopaminergic neurotransmission in different aspects of Pavlovian learned behaviour is important for enhancing our understanding of the neural basis of such disorders.
My teaching focus is in the areas of introductory psychology, statistics, and behavioural neuroscience. I currently lecture and coordinate courses in the Graduate Diploma of Psychology and Graduate Certificate in Child Development programs.