Emotion, cognition and psychiatric disorders


The key goal of this project is to identify objective brain and behaviour markers of major mental illnesses and their treatment. In this research area, we integrate information which is normally studied in isolation - for instance, tests of emotion and cognition, with EEG/ERP measures of brain function and MRI measures of brain structure and function - and recent projects also focus on genetic polymorphisms.


Professor Lea Williams

Research Location

Westmead - Westmead Institute for Medical Research

Program Type



Projects in this area are focused on integrating cognitive, emotional and brain imaging measures (and more recently genetic information) to identify evidence-based biological markers of complex brain function. Understanding complex brain function is crucial to them understanding psychiatric disorders of mental health, which involve a breakdown in our higher level processes of emotion, motivation and cognition. To capture these mechanisms, new analytic methods are used to capture the connectivity and synchrony of brain structure and function, which is crucial to undertaking complex processing. Once brain markers have been identified, clinical applications are examined, such as identifying which markers predict response to treatment in mental illnesses. The disorders focused on in PhD projects include disorders of trauma, stress and emotion, which typically have an onset in childhood through to late adolescence: Schizophrenia, ADHD and related neurodevelopmental disorders, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and stress disorders.

Additional Information

PhD students will be actively involved in assessment of human participants, including individuals with mental illnesses. They will be trained in acquisition of behavioural and brain imaging data, and the use of sophisticated statistical procedures. When based at the Brain Dynamics Centre, PhD students have a strong team-based support network. The BDC comprises a team of 60 members, including approx. 20 PhD students and 10 post-doctoral researchers. There is also a strong contribution from clinical researchers which supports a strong patients referral base.

The Brain Dynamics Centre
The goal of the Brain Dynamics Centre research is to shed light on the workings of the human brain, and the cause and treatment of brain-related disorders

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Schizophrenia, First episode Psychosis, ADHD, Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa, anxiety, Conduct Disorder, depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), stress, Integrative Neuroscience, Affective neuroscience, Cognitive neuroscience, Brain imaging, Electrophysiology, cognition, Emotion, Genetic polymorphisms, Behavioural & psychiatric disorders, Neuroscience & psychology

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 241

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