Professor Jason Mattingley has been awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council Australia Laureate Fellowship announced by Federal Science Minister Kim Carr.
Open to academics of international repute, the scheme encourages Australian and international researchers by providing project funding and salary support.
Professor Mattingley, of the Queensland Brain Institute and The University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, is one of the world’s leading researchers in the neuropsychological basis of attention and its importance to learning.
UQ’s other two recipients are Professor Alex Haslam who will shortly join UQ’s School of Psychology, and Professor Bernie Degnan of the School of Biological Sciences.
Professor Mattingley’s work features studies of acquired and developmental brain disorders, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has led to breakthrough discoveries.
He has attracted more than 4,000 citations and is recognised by his appointment as Australia’s first Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience.
His Australian Laureate Fellowship will provide novel insights into how attentional processes are controlled in the human brain.
“The project will investigate how people use attention to filter sensory information and how the brain controls attention in health and disease,” he said.
“The findings will support new initiatives in a range of fields, from the development of more effective teaching practices to improved rehabilitation strategies for people with brain injuries.”
Professor Mattingley says the Laureate Fellowship represents a great opportunity to build capacity and scale in his Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory.
“The funding is for five years, and it will support three new postdoctoral scientists and three new PhD students,” he explains.
“For the first time we will be able to tackle questions about how the brain controls attention that were previously just too ambitious for a standard three-year project grant.”
He says the call that he was a winner of the prestigious fellowship came out of the blue one morning as he was labouring over a manuscript.
“When I was congratulated on the award, it was so unexpected, I asked, ‘Sorry, which award are you talking about?’” he says.
“From that point on, my memory gets a bit fuzzy – but I can tell you I was euphoric.”
Professor Mattingley says his selection as a Laureate recipient highlights growing recognition in the scientific community that many of the fundamental questions about human behaviour and cognition are now amenable to investigation using the tools of neuroscience, such as brain imaging and brain stimulation.
“My proposal focused on having psychologists and neuroscientists working side by side on questions of common interest,” he explains.
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