Researcher profile

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Dr Christina Perry

“Almost everyone will have experienced, or know someone struggling with, mental health issues. We take a look at what the funding from the Society for Mental Health Research has helped researchers achieve. Herewith Dr Christina Perry, from The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health…”

Hi Christina, could you tell us a little about your research program?

I have been using a preclinical model to examine cognitive decline after chronic alcohol exposure.

What have you been able to achieve during your fellowship?

I have piloted a number of different cognitive tests, providing measures performance on a range of specific cognitive domains. Many of these affect the likelihood of a good outcome for behavioural therapy, and therefore understanding how they are impaired in alcoholism is important for designing effective programs of rehabilitation for alcohol-use disorder.

What impact has your research had?

The project is still at an early stage, as the experimental timeline is long. However, I hope that it will be able to provide clinically relevant information regarding cognitive barriers to behavioural change that might be present in alcohol-affected individuals. I also hope to be able to provide data regarding any beneficial cognitive of physical exercise, and whether it is viable as a non-pharmacological adjunct to behavioural therapy.

Is there anything you may have not been able to do without the funding?

This funding has allowed me to set up a project that I otherwise would not have been able to do. It allowed me to acquire equipment and experimental subjects to run the pilot experiment through which I am beginning to identify the specific cognitive domains that are affected by alcohol.

What are the broader implications of your research?

Chronic alcohol exposure causes neurological and cognitive changes that can directly interfere with the process of changing maladaptive behavioural patterns. Thanks to this fellowship, I will be able to characterise these in a systematic way, hence providing insights into potential cognitive barriers which need to be taken into account when designing therapy for alcohol use disorders.

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