Cognitive Neuroscience Unit

The Cognitive Neuroscience Unit (CNU) is a research group that uses cutting-edge technologies to explore the relationship between the brain, behaviour and cognition. 

Based in the School of Psychology, and affiliated with the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), the CNU has a strong neurodevelopmental focus.


Our focus

Formed in 2014, CNU researchers use a range of brain stimulation, neuropsychological and neuroimaging techniques to explore the relationship between cognition, behaviour and biology.

We strive to provide the latest understandings in social, cognitive and affective human neuroscience. 

Our research examines both typically developing and atypically developing populations, such as autism spectrum disorder, language impairment and developmental coordination disorder. 

Through our various clinical trials, we also aim to develop novel interventions that use current neuroscience approaches and understandings.

Research programs

CNU Social Neuroscience Lab

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects as many as 1 in 45 people, but there are currently no medical treatments that target the core symptoms. Within this research program we use non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, including transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation, to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with ASD. 

Harnessing cutting-edge neuroimaging and neurophysiological approaches, we seek to better understand the brain basis of ASD, and translate this work by developing novel brain stimulation protocols designed to target specific processes. 

Our research is targeted but diverse, ranging from basic science approaches to understanding the neurobiology of social cognition, emotion regulation, and executive function, to developing clinical trials for investigating whether brain stimulation can help people with ASD to reach their full potential and improve their quality of life. 

We are cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists by training, yet collaborate with researchers from various disciplines including psychiatry, computer science, engineering, neurology and philosophy. 

We are funded by NHMRC, ARC, and the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation.

Staff

  • A/Prof Peter Enticott
  • Dr. Natalia Albein-Urios
  • Dr. Melissa Kirkovski
  • Michael Do
  • Hannah Bereznicki

Flagship project

The development of the social brain in early childhood

This project is a clinical trial of theta burst stimulation to enhance social relating in autism spectrum disorder.

Read more about the project

CNU Language and Memory Lab

The aim of our research stream is twofold. The first is to investigate the neurological mechanisms that underpin learning and memory. Here, we seek to understand how the brain learns, stores and retrieves information. The second stream investigates the extent neural networks that are known to support memory also play a role in language. 

We investigate memory and language functioning across the lifespan. Our work with infants and children uses eye-tracking, pupillometry and EEG. With adults, we study interrelationships between the brain, memory and language using transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation. 

Our goal is to advance knowledge about the role of memory in language. We also aim to contribute to the development of support programs for individuals with language difficulties, as well as methods that will facilitate language learning from infancy to adulthood.

Staff

  • Dr. Jarrad Lum
  • Gillian Clark

CNU Motor Cognition Lab

The neural and cognitive basis of atypical motor skill: a multidisciplinary investigation 

Our stream is conducting a series of world-first studies investigating the causal mechanisms that subserve serious developmental disorders of movement such as developmental coordination disorder. 

We are combining highly novel experimental measures of action and cognition with a variety of neuro structural (MRI), functional (fMIR) and physiological (TMS, tDCS pupilometry) measures to gain new insight into the poorly understood aetiology of atypical motor development. 

The goal of these studies is to inform the development of targeted interventions and circumvent the presentation of commonly observed psychosocial disorders in this group. 

These projects build on a body of work from the stream leader, but also bring together expertise of a number of members within the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit. Together, this environment has been ideal for producing high-impact, novel research. 

Staff

  • Dr. Christian Hyde
  • Dr. Ian Fuelscher

CNU Executive Function and Health Behaviour Lab

We aim to build a body of research in Australia on the neural mechanisms of executive functioning in health behaviour change, with the primary focus being overweight and obesity. 

The focus of our research is to explore the underlying mechanisms, in particular of impulsivity and inhibitory control, around weight control. Using the latest approaches, we are exploring inhibitory control deficits in weight loss maintenance during pregnancy, and follow behavioural inhibitory control interventions. 

Staff

  • Dr. Melissa Hayden
  • Dr. Emily Kothe

Study with us

Prospective undergraduate students 

Cognitive neuroscience at Deakin begins in your undergraduate psychology degree. Expert CNU staff teach two neuroscience-specific undergraduate units:

  • HPS310 Brain, Behaviour and Biology is a core Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) unit that explores contemporary neurobiological explanations of human behaviour.
  • HPS395 Cognitive Neuroscience is an elective unit that provides an advanced examination of current issues, theories, methods and applications relevant to the area of cognitive neuroscience.

Please see the relevant course structure for more information. 

Find an undergraduate psychology degree

Internship opportunities

Each year the CNU offers a limited number of unpaid internships to undergraduate students who are interested in a career in cognitive neuroscience. 

If you are interested in being considered for an internship within the CNU, please contact Associate Professor Peter Enticott.

+61 3 9244 5504
Email A/Prof. Enticott

Prospective postgraduate and PhD students

Prospective Honours/Postgraduate Diploma of Psychology Students

There are many opportunities to complete research within the CNU as part of your fourth-year psychology degree (honours or graduate diploma). 

Each year the CNU offers psychology fourth-year research projects across a range of topic for around 50 students. Most projects are group-based, but assessments (including the Research Proposal and Empirical Report) must be completed individually.

CNU fourth-year project allocations for 2017 have been completed. Please check back later in the year to learn about the fourth-year projects being offered within the CNU in 2018. Projects for the following year are typically listed from November.

Prospective PhD students

There are many opportunities to complete your psychology doctoral research (PhD or DPsych) within the CNU. See our staff profiles if you would like more information on potential supervisors.

For more information about these programs, see the Doctor PhD (Psychology) and Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) course pages.

Researchers

Contact us

CNU Director
Associate Professor Peter Enticott
+61 3 9244 5504
Email A/Prof. Enticott

Lab Coordinator
Charlotte Davies
Email Charlotte Davies