My research interests are in experimental psychopathology related to fear extinction and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Specifically, I study the processes involved in learning and extinguishing fear, and the different factors than can influence this process in individuals with PTSD. These factors include genetics, sleep, stress hormones, sex differences, and various cognitive and behavioural factors. In addition, I have conducted research on the memory effects of experiencing cigarette cravings in applied settings, and research on the body image-related motivations for sports supplement use.

I currently have a new program of research investigating the effect of assistance/service dogs on quality of life in civilians and military veterans (and ex-veterans), a link to the study can be found here.

Areas of Expertise

  • Experimental psychopathology (fear conditioning, extinction and fear return)
  • Biomarkers of posttraumatic stress disorder (genetics, stress hormones, sex differences, sleep quality, cognition)

Publications

  1. & The clinical applications and practical relevance of human conditioning paradigms for posttraumatic stress disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 88, 339-351.
  2. & Greater sleep disturbance and longer sleep onset latency facilitate SCR-specific fear reinstatement in PTSD. Behaviour Research and Therapy 110, 1-10.
  3. & The BDNF Val66Met polymorphism moderates the relationship between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and fear extinction learning. Psychoneuroendocrinology 91, 142-148.
  4. & Endogenous salivary α-amylase does not interact with skin conductance response during fear extinction in posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychiatry Research 262, 316-322.
  5. & Neural activity and emotional processing following military deployment: Effects of mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Brain and Cognition 118, 19-26.

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Teaching

  • PSY212 Development Across the Lifespan

    The first half of the module will explore age related changes in cognitive and moral development from early infancy to late adolescence. It will also consider the other major changes that occur in adolescence including social, biological, and neurological changes and how this might impact on normative development in this sensitive period. The second half will deal with health ageing in comparison to age-related disorders such as mild cognitive impairment and dementia. These issues will be considered in terms of brain anatomy and function as well as the effect on the individual and society. Current methods in ageing and developmental research will also be discussed.

  • PSY310 Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress

    The module provides students with an in-depth understanding of the dynamic effects of trauma exposure. In particular, the module will present the history of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and provide detailed discussions of current debates relating to PTSD, treatment techniques, and advances in empirical investigations into the underlying biological and physiological mechanisms. This module will draw on a number of emerging literature bases, such as the transmission of PTSD risk from Holocaust survivors to 2nd and 3rd generations, moral injury in first responders, and shell shock (combat-related PTSD), and newer iterations of PTSD (complex PTSD). Students will also learn about the biological networks (hormonal and cortical) that are integral in PTSD. Finally, students will gain a broad understanding of the mechanisms of risk versus resilience to developing severe posttraumatic stress reactions.

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2017 2017 Lecturer University of Tasmania