Researcher

Dr Kathryn Baker

Field of Research (FoR)

Biography

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

My research is situated in the fields of developmental psychology and behavioural neuroscience. My current work focuses primarily on examining psychological and neural changes in emotions and memories across adolescent development

Education

    • PhD in Psychology, Monash University, 2011
    • Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience (Hons), Monash University, 2005

 

RESEARCH

 

Research Goals

      • Advancing our understanding of how...view more

ABOUT ME

 

Biography

My research is situated in the fields of developmental psychology and behavioural neuroscience. My current work focuses primarily on examining psychological and neural changes in emotions and memories across adolescent development

Education

    • PhD in Psychology, Monash University, 2011
    • Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience (Hons), Monash University, 2005

 

RESEARCH

 

Research Goals

      • Advancing our understanding of how fear is inhibited in the adolescent brain

Research in Detail

Adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability to anxiety disorders and the brain undergoes substantial maturation during adolescence, particularly in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a region critical for inhibiting fear in adults. I am interested in how adolescents may be less efficient in utilising prefrontal regions to inhibit fear. My current research is funded by an NHMRC Project Grant (2015-2017) in collaboration with Professor Rick Richardson from the School of Psychology, UNSW Australia. This project investigates 1) whether developmental differences in the neural mechanisms responsible for fear regulation mediate the impaired fear inhibition typically seen in adolescence, and 2) behavioural and pharmacological treatments that enhance fear reduction at this age. The developmental approach examining adolescent brain maturation is original as most preclinical research examining fear uses adult animals. This preclinical research has the goal of adding new knowledge about novel approaches for early interventions for adolescent anxiety.

My early postdoctoral research examined the associative mechanisms underlying the facilitation of fear extinction by the NMDA receptor partial agonist D-cycloserine (DCS). This research has demonstrates that DCS does not augment fear extinction through learned inattention or causing conditioned inhibition to contextual cues.

Research Grants

  • Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), 2017-2019, Baker, Impaired fear inhibition in adolescence: an imbalance in the brain?
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant 2015 – 2017, Richardson & Baker, A window of vulnerability: Impaired fear inhibition in adolescent rats.
  • The University of New South Wales, Faculty of Science Research Grant 2014, Baker, Neural mechanisms of impaired fear inhibition in adolescence.
  • NHMRC Peter Doherty Early Career Fellowship, 2013 – 2016, Baker, How is fear inhibited in the adolescent brain?

Current Student Projects (PhD and Honours)

Current PhD/M. Psych (Clinical) students 

  • Madelyne Bisby - The role of the endocannabinoid system in fear extinction in adolescent rats (joint supervisor with Professor Rick Richardson) 
  • Anthea Stylianakis - Thesis title TBC (co-supervisor)

Current Honours Psychology

  • Verity Harris
  • Bhiravi Thambi 

2016 Honours Psychology

  • Anthea Stylianakis - Timing is everything: Developmental differences in the effect of stress on extinction retention in adolescence. 
  • Matthew Williams-Spooner - The effect of short exposures to high fat/high sugar diets during adolescence on retention of fear extinction. 

2015/2016 Faculty of Science Summer Vacation Research Scholarship 

  • Ebony Verbunt

TEACHING & OUTREACH

 

Courses I teach

2016

PSY3241 - Psychobiology of Memory and Motivation

2015

PSYC2081 - Learning and Physiological Psychology

ECH216 - Infancy and Early Development (Macquarie University)

Professional affiliations and service positions

I am a member of the Society for Neuroscience, International Society of Developmental Psychobiology, and Biological Psychiatry Australia associations.

I was the Chair of a Biological Psychiatry Australia 2015 meeting symposium (September) “Fear and the developing brain across species: Insights into early-life vulnerabilities for anxiety”

 

AWARDS & ACHIEVEMENTS

 

2017: Early Career Investigator - International Travel Fellowship Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry (US$2000)

2016: Kucharski Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology

2016: International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), Wiley, the Sackler Institute, the Nurture Science Project at Columbia University, and ISDP (US$1200)

2014: International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), the Sackler Institute, and the ISDP (US$800)

2014: FENS-IBRO FENS Forum Travel Grant (Euro $750)

2014: European FENS-SfN Summer School 2014 “Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Disorders”

2013: Amygdala in Health & Disease (Gordon Research Seminar) Travel Award (US$504)

2012: International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), the Sackler Institute, and the ISDP (US$750)

2011: Australian Neuroscience Society Student Travel Award

2006 – 2009: Australian Postgraduate Award, Monash University

2009: Undergraduate Psychology Teaching Award (PSY1011), Monash University

2009: Australian Neuroscience Society Student Travel Award

2007: Australian Neuroscience Society Student Poster Prize at IBRO2007

2007: Australian Neuroscience Society Student Poster Prize at IBRO2007


My Expertise

Neuroscience

Inhibition of fear

Adolescent brain

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Location

School of Psychology
University of New South Wales
Sydney NSW 2052
Mathews Building
Room 508

Contact

93850552

Publications

by Dr Kathryn Baker