Research Supervisor Connect

Early processing of emotional faces in dementia


Decoding facial features (identity, sex, emotion) is a complex ability that most humans do effortlessly. This ability is eroded in individuals with frontotemporal dementia and other dementia syndromes. This project will investigate early visual processing in dementia to identify the mechanisms underlying these deficits


Professor Olivier Piguet.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



Individuals diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia experience difficulty in decoding emotional faces and understanding the meaning of facial features. While some of it is due to a primary disturbance of emotion processing, recent evidence from our group indicates a breakdown in early visual face processing. This project aims to understand these early disturbances. The student will be involved in designing novel experiments to investigate early processing of visual features in healthy individuals and individuals with frontotemporal dementia. The project will involve a combination of various methodologies including brain neuroimaging, neurophysiology (skin conductance), eye tracking, cognitive and clinical investigations. The project is expected to result in a better understanding of the cognitive and biological mechanisms underlying face processing that are disrupted in dementia.

Additional information

The research project will be conducted at the Brain and Mind Centre
Additional supervisor Dr Fiona Kumfor

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2495

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