Pamela Barhoun

PhD topic: Neuroscience

Pamela's PhD journey

Dr Pamela Barhoun’s area of expertise and research is in motor imagery, our ability to imagine movement, and movement development in children and adults with atypical motor ability, such as those with developmental coordination disorder, a serious disorder of movement.

What was your PhD research project about?

My PhD was within the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Deakin. I looked at understanding which parts of the brain are involved when we imagine movement. This is known as motor imagery. We find that a lot of people, particularly those with movement disorders, struggled to imagine movement. Through research we are trying to understand which parts of the brain are used when we imagine movement. Hopefully in the future we can target those areas and develop interventions to help people move better.

It's an extremely supportive and engaging learning environment at Deakin. You feel like you’re not just a student, but more like you’re doing an internship and you’re learning from your colleagues.

Pamela Barhoun

What motivated you to pursue research in your chosen area?

I completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences, as well as a Graduate Diploma of Psychology at Deakin. Throughout my studies I was always interested in neuroscience and the brain and particularly trying to understand why people have certain disorders and how we can develop early interventions.

What future aspirations do you have for your research?

I am currently working as a project manager for a grant-funded project at Deakin that looks at understanding the motor development of the brain in children. Specifically, I work with children who have developmental coordination disorder, which is a movement disorder, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. This involves bringing children into the Deakin laboratories where we do motor assessments, cognitive assessments, and put them through MRI scanners to look at their brain function.

It’s nice to feel like you're contributing to something that will hopefully go a long way to helping children with these disorders. In the future, I would really like to develop interventions that we can use in clinical settings that will, one day, help not only children but adults as well.

What has been the best aspect of doing a PhD at Deakin?

We have an amazing, diverse range of researchers and fields of research, so I knew that it was the right place for me to do my PhD. They are very hands-on at Deakin, and they really care about the student experience. You feel like you’re not just a student, but more like you’re doing an internship and you’re learning from your colleagues. The whole way through I felt very supported and engaged and it was a great experience.

What are your future career ambitions?

I recently submitted my thesis, which is exciting! I am passionate about research so I have always aspired to stay at a university and continue in academia. I am also very passionate about teaching, which I did a lot of during my PhD. My ultimate goal is to combine both teaching and research in my career. Since submitting my PhD, I have been employed as a Lecturer in the School of Psychology at Deakin, teaching research methods and cognitive psychology, while continuing to pursue my research in disorders affecting movement.

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