Below you will find a list of current research being conducted within the School of Psychology. For further information about any of the projects please contact the relevant researcher or contact the school who can forward any enquiries.
Neurocognitive Training for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Dr Stuart Johnstone's research looks at the efficacy of a computer-based cognitive and neurofeedback training program designed to improve impulse-control, working memory, and attention in children with AD/HD and similar symptoms.
The research team previously reported that 25 sessions of working memory and inhibition training substantially reduced symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity in children with AD/HD (Johnstone, et al., 2010, 2012). Based on these results, an independent software company designed a themed game to make the training more engaging and interactive for children – the end result is a game called Focus Pocus. An initial multiple case study into the efficacy of Focus Pocus showed promising results (Jiang and Johnstone, 2015). A large-scale randomised control trial has been conducted over 2014/2015 (submitted for publication).
The 2016/2017 research project asks the question: Does blended care further improve neurocognitive training outcomes for primary school children with attention-control problems?
Biomarkers for the Prediction of Treatment Response in Anxiety and Depression
David Camfields three year project utilises cognitive testing together with electrophysiological (EEG) recording and autonomic measures in order to establish reliable “biomarkers” for the diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, as well as clinically significant anxiety. As a first phase of the project the test battery was refined and validated in a healthy adult sample, whilst in the second phase of the study the most effective tests are being used in a clinical population recruited from the Illawarra region.
The prognostic validity of these tests will then be formally assessed in relation to a wide range of treatment options including pharmacological (e.g. SSRIs, SNRIs and TCAs) and major cognitive-behavioural treatment options (e.g. such as CBT). By the end of the research project it is envisioned that a set of reliable and accurate tests will be established that can be used to improve the diagnosis of MDD, as well as the selection of the most appropriate treatment options for individuals suffering from MDD and anxiety.
Mobile Telecommunications and Health in the 21st Century
Mobile telecommunications devices, such as mobile phones, base stations and Wi-Fi, are ever present in the modern age. Underpinning their functionality is electromagnetic radiation (which is the medium for coding, transmitting, receiving and then decoding information), with the frequency of electromagnetic radiation utilised termed ‘radiofrequency’ (RF). There has been considerable debate concerning the relative harm that may result from this RF, and consequently a considerable body of science exploring the issue.
Croft heads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence addressing the possible impact of RF on health. This centre, the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR) researches across a number of domains, with Wollongong heading the Centre itself, as well as the human neurophysiology and risk assessment/communication arms, and collaborating on epidemiology and dosimetry research projects. The Wollongong research focuses on:
- Assessing effects of low-level RF (such as from mobile phones) on brain function (via the electroencephalogram) and determining the biophysical mechanisms responsible for these
- Determining whether children/adolescents are more sensitive to RF than adults (via sleep polysomnography)
- Better understanding how perceptions of RF-related health risk are formed and determining how to better communicate RF-related health risk information.
More information is available on page 21 of the Research News Article
Professor Brin Grenyer undertakes psychotherapy treatment research into Personality Disorder. The Project Air strategy is a collaboration between Institutes, Local Health Districts and Community (Families, carers and consumers) to contribute to improved wellbeing of people with personality disorders and their families. The Project Air Strategy seeks to improve the capacity of mainstream mental health services to manage and treat Personality Disorder and to expand specialist treatment options, including improved referral pathways between generic and specialist treatment. The project has delivered significant research outputs, education and supervision programs in addition to the provision of expert interventions. It also is involved in evaluating specialist intervention models to provide guidance for future service development.