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Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health (Unpacking the core neurocognitive mechanisms of Cannabis Use Disorder)

   Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre

   Thursday, October 05, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD scholarship valued at $34,863 p.a. (Australian Dollars) is available to undertake research in standardising cannabis metrics, and mapping and mitigating brain and cognitive dysfunction in substance use and related disorders with entrenched mental health problems.

The successful candidate will join the Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health Program, which is part of the Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre at ACU. The program includes 15 staff and research students.

Supervisory team

The principal supervisor will be Associate Professor Valentina Lorenzetti. A/Prof Lorenzetti is an Al and Val Rosenstrauss Senior Research Fellow and NHMRC Investigator Fellow, Lead of the Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health Program, and Deputy Director of the Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre.

The successful applicant will work with a multidisciplinary supervisory team, including a network of expert researchers from collaborating international universities, depending on the project. You will have opportunities to train in the required neuroimaging methods in high-quality national/international research centres.

Professor Val Curran (Professiorial Research Fellow at Australian Catholic University, Australia; Emeritus Professor of Clinical, Educational, and Health Psychology at University College London, United Kingdom)

A/Prof Andrew Zalesky (Principal Research Fellow and head of the Systems Neuropsychiatry and Neuroengineering Research Stream, University of Melbourne, Australia)

A/Prof Bradford Moffatt (Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit, University of Melbourne, Australia)


Unpacking the core neurocognitive mechanisms of Cannabis Use Disorder: A longitudinal MRI study

Cannabis Use Disorders (CUDs) are highly prevalent and are experienced by about a third of >200 million cannabis users globally. Yet, the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying CUD are unclear, as well as whether dysfunctions can be mitigated and how these change over time.

This project will access two original and recently collected multimodal datasets with cognitive and neuroimaging data, to unpack fundamental questions on the neurobiology of CUD:

  1. Is CUD associated with cognitive or neural changes, and do these changes exacerbate with chronicity of use and related mental health problems?
  2. Can a mindfulness intervention that targets craving mitigate altered cognition or neurobiology, using an active placebo controlled double blind experiment?
  3. How do cognitive and brain alterations in people with a CUD change over time?

Scholarship criteria

This scholarship is open to high-quality domestic and international applicants.

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact and provide Associate Professor Valentina Lorenzetti () with a brief expression of interest, CV and academic transcripts before submitting an application for the PhD program and this scholarship.

To be considered for this scholarship, applicants must submit all documentation required for an application to the PhD program at ACU, as detailed in the 'How to Apply' instructions on the ACU Research Web Page, plus:

  • a CV detailing relevant academic and practical experience
  • a cover letter detailing demonstrated interest and/or experience in the program of research described.

For more details of this project and the University requirements, see:

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