Emeritus Professor Patricia Michie

Emeritus Professor Patricia Michie
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2016 Project Grant
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2011 Project Grant
Scholarship
2011 Scholarship
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2011 Project Grant
Scholarship
2010 Scholarship
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2010 Project Grant
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2008 Project Grant
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2006 Project Grant
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2004 Project Grant
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2002 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

  • Youth at-risk of developing psychosis

Young people who are at-risk of developing psychosis experience frightening symptoms of hallucinations, delusions and other phenomena that are not severe enough to warrant a diagnosis of a psychosis but can be precursors to developing a more serious mental health condition.  My ambition is to identify the brain changes associated with this at-risk period with the goal of predicting who will transition to a more serious condition allowing us to intervene earlier.

  • Understanding the brain mechanisms that cause schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that has its origins early in life.  I with other collaborators discovered in the early 90s that a simple brain response to sounds was changed in individuals with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  This finding has been replicated by other researchers all over the world.  My goal is to use this brain change to understand what goes wrong in the brains of patients by using laboratory models which mimic early life events that increase the risk of offspring developing schizophrenia in adulthood.

  • Brain mechanisms that mediate cognitive control in adolescents and young adults

Negotiating the successful transition from teenager to young adult requires effective cognitive control mechanisms that ensure adaptive behavior and good psychosocial outcomes.  Cognitive control is mediated by complex frontal brain networks that show protracted development well into adulthood.  We are using innovative methods to model behavior, brain function and structure in order to characterize how differences in brain development can lead  to either good or poor outcomes. 

Why did you get into research?

I have always had a passion for understanding how the brain works.  Understanding the brain is the greatest challenge facing science today.  Despite amazing discoveries in recent years, it has not given up its secrets easily.  And yet to understand and treat debilitating brain diseases, we must persist in doing basic research into brain functioning.  This challenge is what drove me to get into brain research and it still does today.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

Finding a cure for schizophrenia.  Probably an impossible dream in my lifetime but it will happen eventually. We will get there in incremental steps – each new finding slowly but surely exposes the causes of this disease.  One problem confronting us is that schizophrenia is most likely not a single illness – that there may be multiple illnesses, the schizophrenias, and each may have different underlying brain origins.  So finding a cure for all schizophrenias is a massive challenge.  There are initiatives afoot both internationally and nationally to invest in major brain research programs, both in the US, in Europe, Japan and Korea.  I led the Australian initiative called the Australian Brain Alliance as its inaugural chair. The Alliance, which is supported by the Academy of Science, the Australian Psychological Society, the Australasian Neuroscience Society and major Australian brain research organizations including HMRI and the University of Newcastle, aims to secure investment in Australian brain research comparable to other international initiatives. Breakthroughs funded by such initiatives will ultimately solve the riddle of the schizophrenias and other brain disorders.  

Biography

Emeritus Professor Pat Michie is an experimental psychologist whose research has focussed on the neural basis of normal and abnormal cognition. She has in excess of 11,500 Scopus citations from approximately 180 peer reviewed publications and has been awarded in excess of $9M in national competitive grants. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and is the 2016 recipient of the Australian Psychological Society’s Distinguished Contribution to Psychological Science Award. Her research has been characterised by application of theories and methodologies from basic research in cognition and cognitive neuroscience to understand the nature of cognitive deficits and their neural basis in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and those at risk. Her research spans auditory processing deficits, impaired inhibitory control and cognitive control more generally and uses both psychophysical methods to assess performance as well as functional brain imaging methods such as event-related potentials (ERPs) of the brain.  She was a key member of the Australian group who were the first to demonstrate that individuals with schizophrenia exhibit impaired automatic change detection in a background of auditory regularities, an ERP-derived observation replicated many times and one of the most robust findings in the schizophrenia literature. She has recently embarked on laboratory models that attempt to mimic the early life events that appear to predispose an individual to develop psychosis in later life to determine whether the these laboratory models replicate the deficit in processing sounds. She has published a number of seminal papers on ERP indices of attention and change detection. 

Pat chaired the National Committee of Brain and Mind (NCBM) of the Academy of Sciences of Australia from 2014-2017 and was the inaugural Chair of the Australian Brain Alliance, an initiative of the NCBM and the Academy. The Alliance, which is supported by the Australian Psychological Society, the Australasian Neuroscience Society and major research organisations, aims to secure investment in Australian brain research comparable to other international initiatives.  Pat is the current chair of the Research Committee at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, and is a member of the NeuRA Schizophrenia Research Council.

Future Focus

My future focus will be on laboratory models of mental health disorders that affect many young people. It is possible to model a range of clinical disorders – anxiety, depression, autism and psychosis. The goal is to understand the mechanisms that give rise to these disorders.  It is only by understanding mechanisms that we can develop novel treatments and new preventative interventions. 

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Functional brain imaging particularly methods derived from electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Laboratory models of mental disorders
  • Schizophrenia and psychosis

Affiliations

2016

How does a potential new treatment for schizophrenia affect brain activity to improve cognition?
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Researchers:
Description:

Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic mental illness that is debilitating to the individual and ranks among the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries worldwide.

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2011

The role of brain vasular flow and white matter lesions in the development of Vascular Dementia (VaD) - Tomago Aluminium Research Grant in Dementia
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Researchers:

Associate Professor Frini KarayanidisPat Michie, Tod Jolly, Pat Cooper, Clevi, Mark Parsons, Peter Scholfield
 

Testing for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antibodies in a large Australian cohort of schizophrenia patients
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Paul Tooney, Ute Vollmer-Conna, Paul Rasser, Pat Michie, Ulrich Schall, Carmel Loughland

Relationships between white matter lesions and cognitive and motor functioning in patients with minor ischaemic stroke: A structural and functional brain imaging study - RhD 2yr
Scholarship
Researchers:

2010

Relationships between white matter lesions and cognitive and motor functioning in patients with minor ischaemic stroke: A structural and functional brain imaging study - RhD 2yr
Scholarship
Researchers:
A structural and functional brain imaging study of how white matter lesions in patients with minor ischaemic stroke affect cognitive and motor control processes
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Frini Karayanidis, Mark Parsons, Patricia Michie, Christopher Levi, Sharna Jamadar, Matthew Hughes, Peter Schofield, Dr Grant Bateman

2008

Brain Science and Young People’s Mental Health: A gene expression study in young people at ultra high risk of developing schizophrenia
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2006

The spatial and temporal dynamics of motor and cognitive inhibition in schizophrenia; an fMRI and ERP study
Project Grant

2004

Facial identify and facial expression processing in autism
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Frini KarayanidisProfessor P Michie, Professor K Nunn, Mr T Passfield, Mr P Johnston
 

2002

Using brain imaging techniques to determines how people with schizophrenia process sound
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Timothy Budd, Professor Pat Michie, Dr Juanita & Dr Ulrich Schall