About Dr Lauren Monds

I am interested in research on cognitive impairment: how we think and remember and what can we do if it goes wrong. I explore this issue in two main ways: improving cognition in people who use alcohol and other drugs, and determining whether witnesses/victims who were intoxicated at the time of a crime are able to remember what happened.

1. Substance abuse in Australia is highly prevalent. Results from experimental research suggest that even small amounts of alcohol and other drugs can negatively impact cognitive functions such as attention, perception and memory. Longer-term heavy substance use may contribute to more lasting brain damage. Importantly, some of the cognitive harms caused by substance abuse may be decreased or reversed if substance use is ceased and/or cognitive training is undertaken. The aim of this research stream is to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot cognitive improvement intervention in drug and alcohol clients. 2. Many people who use alcohol and other drugs have other health concerns and are sometimes involved in the criminal justice system. It is therefore important to determine the best way for health and legal personnel to interact with potentially intoxicated people. This research stream focuses on three main areas: intoxication detection in the health setting, intoxication detection in the criminal justice system, and memory for traumatic events while intoxicated.

I am an Academic Fellow in the Discipline of Addiction Medicine in the Central Clinical School and an honorary research affiliate with the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science. I completed my Honours research (result: first class) in the cognition and behaviour of rodents administered cannabinoids, in the School of Psychology (USyd). My PhD (conferred November, 2013) was in biological and psychological predictors of human memory errors following a traumatic event, also completed in the School of Psychology. I have been involved in tutoring and lecturing in multiple undergraduate and postgraduate science courses (neuroscience, veterinary science, health psychology and forensic psychology). I also recently held a research position in behavioural medicine at Curtin University (Perth) investigating models of predicting and changing health behaviours such as binge drinking. My current research is in human substance use and cognition, and I have successfully coordinated several multi-site projects and a clinical trial. I am also an investigator on several recently successful bids for research funding on this topic. The results of these projects will inform clinical practice and policy.