What drives motivation?

Summary

This project aims to investigate the neural and behavioural mechanisms underpinning apathy in healthy adults and people with dementia. Loss of motivation and reduction in goal-directed behaviour is one of the most common and disabling symptoms of dementia. Yet, understanding of the mechanisms which underpin this symptomatology is lacking. This project will establish new, objective ways to measure motivation and apathy in healthy older adults and people with dementia.

Supervisor(s)

Dr Fiona Kumfor

Research Location

School of Psychology

Program Type

PHD

Synopsis

My research aims to examine the abilities which underpin our capacity to engage in complex human social interactions. The work has both clinical and theoretical implication and aims to answer questions such as: 

  • How can we diagnose dementia?
  • How can we improve the quality of life for people with dementia?
  • What is the neurobiological basis of motivation?
  • Are apathy and disinhibition distinct phenomena or do they share a similar basis?

My research combines neuropsychological assessment, psychophysiology (eyetracking, facial EMG, skin conductance) and advanced neuroimaging to address these questions.

Additional Information

The Location of this research will be at the Brain and Mind Centre, School of Psychology.
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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Keywords

neuropsychology, motivation, reward learning, apathy, neuropsychiatry, behaviour

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2219

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