The Neuro Mental Health group focuses on understanding more about mental disorders associated with diseases of the nervous system. The lab’s special interests are Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, apathy, sleep disorders, and behavioural addictions. 

The lab’s work involves developing new diagnostic tools and therapeutic interventions. We use neuropsychological assessments, and neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI) techniques, and conduct clinical trials. 

Remote delivery of personalised homebased psychotherapy using tele-health, e-health and m-health are another research focus. The IDATA-PD study is a recent collaborative initiative to improve diagnosis and treatment of anxiety in Parkinson’s disease, and has attracted more than $1.1million in competitive research funds.

Epidemiology

Examining the prevalence and characteristics of depression, anxiety, apathy and cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease patients and their carers.

Assessment tools

Investigating the validity and reliability of depression and anxiety assessment methods in Parkinson’s disease. Developing a new instrument to assess anxiety in Parkinson’s disease.
 

Clinical diagnosis

Characterising symptomatology of depressive, anxiety, apathy and neurocognitive disorders in Parkinson’s disease.

Brain mechanisms and markers

Examining mechanisms underlying anxiety, depression, and neurocognitive disorders in Parkinson’s disease using resting state and task dependent EEG and fMRI.

Treatment

Developing and implementing new psychotherapy treatment for anxiety, depression, sleep, and chronic pain in Parkinson’s disease. Current packages include (i) cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety, (ii) mindfulness, and (iii) interventions for sleep disturbances. 

Adverse effects (addiction)

Investigating addictive behaviours induced by dopaminergic medication in Parkinson’s disease patients: (i) impulse control disorders and (ii) dopamine dysregulation syndrome.

Learning and language processing in people with Parkinson’s disease

This project investigates the neural basis for language deficits in Parkinson’s disease using brain imaging (fMRI).

Chief investigators: Professor David Copland, Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Peter Bell, Professor Peter Silburn, Dr Katie McMahon, Professor Helen Chenery, Dr Anthony Angwin

Cognitive sequelae in Parkinson’s disease: Identifying the neural substrates

This study aims to identify the neural substrates of cognitive-linguistic impairments in Parkinson’s disease by utilizing EEG.

Chief investigators: Dr Anthony Angwin, Associate Professor David Copland, Dr Katie McMahon, Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Professor Peter Silburn

Striatal dopamine function in human cognition: Insights from language, learning and reward in Parkinson’s disease and pharmacological challenge

This study investigates the learning and language processing in Parkinson’s disease patients who have had deep brain stimulation (DBS) functional neurosurgical treatment.

Chief investigators: Dr Anthony Angwin, Professor Peter Silburn, Associate Professor David Copland, Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka

Improving diagnostic methods of anxiety and depression in Parkinson’s disease

This study aims to define the phenotype of anxiety and depression in Parkinson’s disease. It also Investigates early markers for anxiety in Parkinson’s disease using psychological (affective priming) paradigms, imaging (electroencephalography, EEG) and saliva biomarkers (cortisol).

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Associate Professor David Copland, Professor Peter Silburn, Associate Professor John O’SullivanProfessor Gerard Byrne, Prof Nancy Pachana, Dr Rodney Marsh, Professor George Mellick

Emotional inhibition in Parkinson’s disease

This projects aims to identify emotional inhibition in Parkinson’s disease patients with and without affective disturbances using psychological paradigms coupled with EEG.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Associate Professor David Copland, Dr Anthony Angwin, David Hennessy (Masters in Clinical Psychology student), Associate Professor John O’Sullivan

Perspectives and experiences of Parkinson’s disease patients with drug induced impulse control disorders and dopamine dysregulation syndrome

This qualitative study aims to identify the phenomenology of DRT-induced impulse control disorders, patients’ understanding of their condition and their ability to control their behaviours, and patients’ moral identity and beliefs about their personal responsibility.

Chief investigators: Dr Adrian Carter, Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Professor Wayne Hall, Associate Professor John O’Sullivan

Cognitive behavioral therapy to treat anxiety and depression in Parkinson’s disease

This project aims to design and implement cognitive behavioral therapy for Parkinson’s disease patients. A Waitlist controlled RCT was commenced in 2016.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Professor Nancy Pachana, Dr Leander Mitchell, Professor Gerard Byrne, Associate Professor John O'Sullivan, Dr Rodney Marsh

Mindfulness for Parkinson’s disease

This project investigates the benefits of mindfulness group therapy to alleviate depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction and parkinsonism symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Dr Paul Harnett, Professor Nancy Pachana, Farah Idu Jion (Doctorate in Clinical and Clinical Neuropsychology student), Associate Professor John O’Sullivan, Dr Rodney Marsh, Professor Gerard Byrne

Sleep Disturbances in Parkinson’s disease: A rural perspective

This project investigates sleep disturbances in people with Parkinson’s disease and their carers living in rural areas. The impact of sleep problems on patitent-carer dyadic relationship is also investigated.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Prof Nancy Pachana, Rachael Wade (Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology Student)

Twillight or dimlight?

The culture of ageism in demantia care and implementation of an intervention designed as a broader approach to improve the quality of care for those with dementia.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Prof Nancy Pachana, Nicole White (PhD student)

Management of affective and anxiety disorders in aged-care

Identification, diagnosis and the impact on wellbeing through an e-health initiative for personal carers.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Prof Gerard Byrne, Prof Judy Wollin, Rachel Brimelow (PhD student)

Neuropsychological Profile of Behavioural Addictions in Parkinson’s Disease

This project investigate improved methods to identify dopaminergic medication induced behavioural addictions (e.g. impulse control disorders) in Parkinson’s disease.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Dr Adrian Carter (Monash University), Andrew Dawson (PhD student- Monash University),  A/Prof John O’Sullivan, Prof Murat Yucel (Monash University), Prof Andrew Evans (University of Melbourne)

Markers and Mechanisms of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Parkinson’s disease

This fMRI study examines impairments in attention and language networks associated with mild cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease.

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, Prof Gerard Byrne, Prof David Copland, A/Prof Katie McMahon, A/Prof John O’Sullivan, Ji Hyun (Julia) Yang (PhD student) 

 

Subjective and Objective Assessment of Multiple Modality Therapy for Temporomandibular Disorder

Chief investigators: Dr Nadeeka Dissanayaka, A/Prof Udantha Abeyratne, Dr Karen McCloy (PhD student)