Cognitive and clinical neuropsychology

The Robinson group's clinical research is focused on both theoretical questions about brain-behaviour relationships like the crucial mechanisms for the executive control of language, and clinical questions regarding cognitive assessment and management of various pathologies including neurodegenerative disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, brain tumours and stroke.

Professor Gail Robinson has attracted internal and national funding; at present she leads the Neuropsychology Core of a large-scale longitudinal and multidisciplinary NHMRC Dementia Team Research grant. 

Professor Robinson was the recipient of an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) in 2012 and she is currently the recipient of a NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowship, during which she will focus on early neurocognitive diagnostic indicators for dementia (2018-2021).

Group leader

Professor Gail Robinson

Professor Gail Robinson

Research Fellow, Queensland Brain Institute

  +61 7 336 56401
  gail.robinson@uq.edu.au
  uqnrc@uq.edu.au
  UQ Researcher Profile

Early Diagnosis and Intervention for Dementia (2018-2021)

NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowship Prospective Imaging Study of Ageing: Genes, Brain and Behaviour (PISA) (2015-2020) NHMRC Dementia Research Team Grant

Longitudinal assessment of behaviour and cognition in ALS through brief Online Carers’ behavioural Questionnaire (OCQ) (2018-2019) MND Research Institute of Australia 

A prospective study of language impairment and recovery following surgery for brain tumours (2015-2019) NHMRC Project Grant


 

Contact: uqnrc@uq.edu.au

Dedicated to enhancing brain function in health and disease through A.R.T.

  • Assessment of cognition, behaviour, emotion and social function.
  • Research to increase our knowledge about normal/ abnormal mind-brain function.
  • Training, rehabilitation and intervention to maintain or maximise optimal function.

The  Neuropsychology Research Unit is based at the UQ Neuropsychology Research Clinic (UQNRC), which is a purpose-built research facility that opened in September 2017. The vision of Professor Gail Robinson was to create a hub where students, researchers and individuals with brain disorders come together for clinical, training and research purposes. The UQNRC facilities comprise three clinic testing rooms, one with a brain physiology laboratory, and working spaces for staff and students. The UQNRC is located in a residential house on the UQ St Lucia campus, with easy access and parking, adjacent to other psychology and brain-focused facilities including the Queensland Brain Institute and the Centre for Advanced Imaging.

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Research projects and populations

Professor Robinson’s Neuropsychology Research Unit conducts neuropsychological projects with individuals with a range of neurological, neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), stroke, brain tumour, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, frontotemporal dementia, autism spectrum disorder, corpus callosal dysgenesis, bipolar disorder, motor neurone disease (MND) and highly superior autobiographical memory.

In addition, our research focuses on understanding cognition and behaviour in healthy individuals of all ages, as well as those who are in later years of life or ageing naturally.  Specific projects include:

  • Executive control of language generation – contribute to our understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that are crucial for producing propositional (or conversational) language. This is investigated in both healthy (all ages) and neurological populations.
     
  • PISA - Prospective Imaging Study of Ageing: Genes, Brain and Behaviour (Dementia Research Team Grant 2015-2021). The aim of PISA is to identify preclinical biomarkers of ageing and dementia by investigating clinical cohorts (AD and MCI) and healthy middle-aged Australians at high and low genetic risk for AD and follow them longitudinally.
     
  • Frontal lobe functions following stroke: Acute predictors of long-term outcomes – Investigate neuropsychological consequences of stroke in the acute phase that can predict independent living and ability to function in daily life after 1 year.
     
  • Motor Neurone Disease – identify cognitive and behavioural changes and develop an online carer’s behaviour rating questionnaire (OCQ).
     
  • Primary Progressive Aphasia – discover the critical cognitive processes affected, develop a novel assessment tool that can differentiate between the different presentations and create personalised and tailored behavioural and brain stimulation interventions.
     
  • Movement Disorders – identify neurocognitive patterns that can differentiate between PD and atypical parkinsonian disorders like CBD and PSP.
     
  • Corpus Callosal Dysgenesis – discovering the consequences and effective interventions for disorders of the corpus callosum, the largest fibre connecting the left and right brain, with the International Research Consortium for Corpus Callosum & Cerebral Connectivity (https://irc5.org/).

 

Community links

The Neuropsychology Research Unit and UQNRC are well integrated with local health services via the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Memory, MND and Movement Disorders Clinics, Neurosciences at the Mater Hospital, BrizBrain & Spine at the Wesley Hospital (brain tumours), and stroke units at the RBWH and Princess Alexandra Hospitals. The Robinson group provides a Dementia Diagnostic Service, which developed from the PISA project (referrals are accepted from Neurologists, Psychiatrists and Geriatricians).

 

Participate as a volunteer for neuropsychology research

If you are interested in volunteering as a research participant please email our Research Coordinator. We welcome individuals who are either healthy or those with a neurological diagnosis. If you have a neurological disorder, please provide a referral from your medical specialist (e.g. Neurologist, Psychiatrist, or Geriatrician).

 

Available PhD projects

PhD research project: Fundamental neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning creative thought.

Background

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. Creative thought is fundamental to human advances throughout history and scientific discovery. It is also needed in daily life to adapt behaviour and solve everyday problems. The cognitive and neural bases of creative thought have not been explored in detail. Most past work in cognitive science has drawn a consistent distinction between needing a knowledge system to generate possibilities and an evaluation system to analyse and refine these ideas. The interplay between these two distinct systems results in productive creative thought. However, the knowledge source and the evaluation mechanisms, and their neural bases, are under-specified (e.g., what are the knowledge sources, how are they evaluated, etc).

Project aim

This project aims to understand the behavioural and brain bases of creative thought by using a novel approach at the intersection between executive control operations and semantic cognition. In brief, executive functions such as response initiation and inhibition, strategy application and flexibility play a critical role in everyday life because they enable individuals to adapt to circumstances, exhibit self-control and to solve new problems as they arise. Semantic cognition refers to our ability to flexibly retrieve and manipulate our generalized knowledge, which is acquired over the lifespan, to support verbal and non-verbal (multimodal) behaviours. In this project both executive control and semantic cognition will be investigated using behavioural and neuroimaging techniques in individuals that are healthy and those with focal brain lesions due to neurological disorders. The focus of the PhD could be on any of these aspects of the project, depending on the candidate.

Your suitability

A working knowledge of cognition, experimental psychology and statistical analysis and a keen interest in neuropsychology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of psychology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of cognition and statistical analysis is highly desirable.

Your role

You will be supervised by both Prof Gail Robinson (UQ) and Prof Matt Lambon Ralph (University of Cambridge). You will have opportunities to work with a team of cognitive neuroscientists and clinicial researchers, learning neuropsychological, experimental psychological and neuroimaging methods.

Apply

You need to apply for this project as part of your PhD application.

View application process

Contact

Professor Gail Robinson

Email: gail.robinson@uq.edu.au

Research Areas

  • Neuropsychology and cognitive disorders
  • Frontal lobe functions
  • Assessment and neurorehabilitation
  • Dementia and ageing
  • Stroke
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders

Our team

Group Leader


Research Members


Students


Support Staff