The Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre (HBMRC) aims to advance knowledge critical to improving mental health, participation and well-being. Mental health, brain-related, and developmental disorders have significant negative impacts upon the mortality and social participation of the most vulnerable members of the community and are among the most urgent global challenges of the 21st century.
The Centre comprises of 15 staff members and over 20 research students at Honours, Masters and PhD level. We are a multi-disciplinary team who make significant contributions to mental health, participation and well-being by integrating cutting edge research expertise and technology spanning neuroscience, addiction science, clinical psychology, developmental psychology and rehabilitation science to improve the understanding, prevention and treatment of mental health, brain-related and developmental disorders.
Our program is aimed at addressing the crisis in the provision of mental health services through the development and testing of novel digital interventions which can be fully integrated within mental health services. The overarching focus of our program is on optimising psychological well-being in youth and adults diagnosed with severe mental illness, young people at risk of mental disorders and family members providing care. Specifically, we aim to develop and test innovative digital interventions designed to enhance the delivery of mental health services in order to improve psychological well-being for both sufferers and their family members.
Our program aims to map the clinical, cognitive and brain mechanisms of addiction, substance use behaviours, and related mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders). Addiction is highly prevalent and is the largest preventable contributor to burden of disease in the general community. We aim to map the factors that influence vulnerability, exacerbate harms and determine paths to recovery in addiction and related mental health disorders. To achieve our aims, we use next-generation multimodal brain imaging tools, carefully-controlled experimental designs and evidence-based behavioural and pharmacological interventions. Our research also capitalises on established connections with unique and prestigious longitudinal global consortia and big data initiatives. The longer-term vision of this program is to identify targets for prevention and treatment of addiction and related harms.
Our research in developmental science and disability is internationally renowned for innovation and impact. The work of our team of local and international collaborators is geared to (i) identifying key processes that drive the motor and cognitive development of children, (ii) clarifying the neural and cognitive basis of motor disorders in both children (esp. Developmental Coordination Disorder—DCD, and CP) and adults (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease), and (iii) translating this knowledge into innovations in training and rehab that challenge current practice (e.g., EDNATM, www.dynamicneuralarts.com.au).
Our work on motor learning difficulties in children (or DCD) has been at the leading edge of research in the field for over 20 years, influencing International Clinical Practice Guidelines on DCD (Blank et al., 2012, 2019). We employ a mix of experimental, correlational, and longitudinal studies that examine the development of motor control, learning and cognition in DCD and related conditions. Our research on motor disorders in adult populations seeks to understand the mechanisms of balance impairments, gait disability and falls in older adults and people with degenerative conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s disease), and the efficacy of new therapies for their management.
Our expert national and international collaborators include Prof. Bert Steenbergen (Radboud University, the Netherlands), Prof. Dido Green (Brunel University, UK), Prof. Gavin Williams (Epworth Hospital and University of Melbourne), Prof. Bouwien Smits-Engelsman (University of Cape Town), Prof Andy Gordon (Columbia University, NY), Prof. Jonathan Duckworth (RMIT University, Melbourne), Prof. Christine Imms (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne), and Prof. Peter Silburn (University of Queensland). This has enabled an innovative research focus on virtual rehabilitation, supported by a number of large ARC and others grants.
We welcome enquiries from high-quality honour’s, master’s or PhD research candidates to undertake projects in our research areas.