Quick Project Snapshot

Network disruptions following brain infarction: cognition, behaviour and regional brain volume change

One in 3 Australians will develop dementia after retirement. Thirty percent of the cost of dementia care is driven by the management of the behavioural and psychiatric symptoms of dementia, an estimated $USD200 billion globally. For many patients and their families, the management of these symptoms is one of the most difficult aspects of their dementia journey. Unfortunately, these symptoms are a common feature of brain disease. Current pharmacological treatments for BPSD have limited efficacy and significant risk. Side effects from these therapies remain a significant cause of illness, disability and death in the elderly [5]. Similarly, one in 3 patients will dement following stroke, yet the neuroanatomical substrates of these symptoms remain poorly understood. Advanced imaging techniques allow us to interrogate not just the structural substrates associated with such behaviours, but also their functional network correlates. We need to better understand the drivers of these behaviours by investigating specific neuroanatomical networks and their associations with behavioural and cognitive change using these advances.


  1. Li, Q., Pardoe, H., Lichter, R., Werden, E., Raffelt, A., Cumming., Brodtmann, A. Cortical thickness estimation in longitudinal stroke studies: a comparison of 3 measurement methods NeuroImage:Clinical (in press)
  2. Brodtmann A, Werden E, Pardoe H, Li Q, Jackson G, Donnan G, Cowie T, Bradshaw J, Darby D, Cumming T. Charting cognitive and volumetric trajectories after stroke: protocol for the Cognition And Neocortical Volume After Stroke (CANVAS) study. Int J Stroke. 2014 Aug;9(6):824-8
  3. Brodtmann. A. Pardoe, H. Li, Q.,  Lichter, R. Ostergaard, L., Cumming, T. Regional variability in brain volume three months after stroke Journal of the Neurological Sciences Nov 15 2012 322(1-2):122-8

Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory

In the Clinical Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory, we study network degeneration following brain injury (e.g., ischaemic stroke) and have a particular interest in vascular contributions to cognitive impairment both in aging and in a range of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The latter is the most common cause of dementia in the western world and is associated with profound impairments in cognition and activities of daily living. Our research seeks to investigate neuroimaging correlates of cognitive decline; the effects of post-stroke exercise interventions on brain volume and cognitive function; and the accuracy and accessibility of imaging modalities in the diagnosis of dementia.  The ultimate goal of our research is to increase our understanding of two of the major causes of death, disability, and reduced quality of life in our society: dementia and stroke. Our team is headed by Associate Professor Amy Brodtmann, stroke and cognitive neurologist, Director of the Eastern Cognitive Disorders Clinic, and Heart Foundation Research Fellow.

We are collaborating with dementia and stroke researchers, clinicians, and neuroscientists, in Australia, and overseas, including Professor Martin Dichgans and Dr Marco During of the DEMDAS study in Munich Germany, Professor Charles DeCarli at the University of California Davis in the US, and Professor Vladimir Hachinski at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. These researchers are experts in their respective fields.

Our primary interest is to understand whether stroke and ischaemic brain injury cause neurodegeneration. This is currently being investigated in one of our major research projects, the NHMRC-funded, Cognition and Neocortical Volume After Stroke (CANVAS) Study, which is now in its fifth year of data collection.  In this study, stroke participants undergo an MRI scan and cognitive assessment within a few weeks of their events, and again, 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years later. By comparing their results with a healthy, age-matched control group with no history of stroke or dementia, we can determine whether brain volume change is associated with post-stroke dementia and elucidate potential causal mechanisms, including genetic markers, amyloid deposition and vascular risk factors.

Another interest of our lab is to examine the association between exercise and rates of brain volume loss and cognitive decline after stroke.  In the Post Ischaemic Stroke Cardiovascular Exercise Study (PISCES), we seek to determine whether aerobic exercise after stroke is associated with preservation of brain volume and function, cognition, and greater physical and psychological well-being. One of the most important elements of this research study is its translatable novelty – our data will contribute to an applicable intervention-based approach.

All Projects by this Lab

Network disruptions following brain infarction: cognition, behaviour and regional brain volume changeExploring the therapeutic potential of progranulin for the treatment of strokeIs stroke neurodegenerative? A longitudinal study of changes in brain volume and cognition after stroke (CANVAS: Cognition And Neocortical Volume After Stroke)Evaluating Imaging Methods in Dementia (TIMID)Motor Speech Disorders in Degenerative Brain DiseaseBereavement and Grief in Neurodegenerative Disease (BAGINS)Post Ischaemic Stroke Cardiovascular Exercise Study (PISCES)

Behavioural Neuroscience

The Division of Behavioural Neuroscience focuses on the use and development of models that reflect aspects of human disorders such as addiction, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, autism and neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease. The Cognitive Neuroscience group additionally studies cognitive disorders caused by diseases such as stroke (cerebrovascular disease), Alzheimer's disease and other dementias from a clinical perspective.

All Labs that operate in this Division

Addiction Neuroscience LaboratoryClinical Cognitive Neuroscience LaboratoryDevelopmental Psychobiology LaboratoryEpigenetics and Neural Plasticity LaboratoryGenes Environment and Behaviour LaboratoryInhalant Addiction LaboratoryMidbrain Dopamine Plasticity LaboratorySynapse Biology and Cognition LaboratoryVascular Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory