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Absolute quantification of Glutamate and GABA using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy


The Department of Psychological Medicine at Royal North Shore Hospital undertakes neuroimaging research into cognitive functioning and underlying brain processes in neuropsychiatric disorders. Major research themes are the regulation of emotion, attention and consciousness, learning and memory as well as neurotransmitter function. The research techniques used to study these themes include functional-MRI, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, electroencephalography and behavioral techniques.


Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulos.

Research location

North Shore - Northern Clinical School

Program type



Advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies allow us to “see” the brain in a direct (in vivo) and safe (non-invasive) way. While structural and functional MRI provides information regarding the structure and the function of the brain, proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) provides information in regards to the brain’s biochemistry. Information provided by 1H-MRS is not only useful to draw meaningful links between brain biology and human behaviour but also to help doctors by providing useful clinical information which can have a real benefit for patients’ lives. A PhD position is currently available to investigate 1H-MRS and neurotransmitter function in bipolar disorder. 1H-MRS studies often report their findings as a change in the ratio of two measured metabolites instead of a change in their absolute concentrations. Ratio measurements can be problematic as both metabolite levels in the ratio may change in a pathological condition, leading to null findings. To circumvent this limitation this project will aim to develop acquisition and analysis techniques for obtaining absolute concentrations of brain metabolites with a focus on glutamate and GABA. As part of this project candidates will have the opportunity to be trained to collect data using magnetic resonance imaging techniques (such as structural MRI and 1H-MRS). Candidates will also have the opportunity to be trained to use sophisticated software packages such as SPM, SPSS, LCModel and Matlab.

Additional information

The neuroimaging component of this project will be conducted at the Advanced Research and Clinical Highfield Imaging (ARCHI) facility using a 3-Tesla Siemens MRI scanner located on the Northern Clinical School campus at Royal North Shore Hospital. PhD candidates should have a background in science, psychology, medicine, biomedical engineering, or other related neuroscience field. Experience with 1H-MRS would be an advantage.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 686

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