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Professor Sarah Whittle

Professor Sarah Whittle is a Principal Research Fellow and head of the Affective Neurodevelopment Research Stream at the MNC

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Prof Whittle completed her PhD at The University of Melbourne in 2007. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Orygen – The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health from 2008-2011, and joined MNC in 2012. She is currently a Co-Director, Principal Research Fellow and head of the Affective Neurodevelopment Stream at the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre. Her primary research interests lie in child and adolescent development, both from a neurobiological and psychological perspective. She is particularly interested in how environmental and biological factors shape brain development, and in turn have consequences for the development of depression and other common adolescent-onset mental disorders.

Current Projects

A/Prof Whittle is currently running the following studies:

If you would like to find out more about Prof Whittle’s research, or are interested in Honours, Masters or PhD projects, please contact her at

Current Funding

S Whittle, M Seal, N Vijayakumar, J Simmons, G Youssef, M Herting (2022 - 2025).

The impact of female sex hormones on neurodevelopment.

Australian Research Council Discovery Grant

S Whittle, J Simmons, D Ganella, O Schwartz, J Kim, K Felmingham, B Harrison (2019 - 2021).

Neural mechanisms of anxiety across development and sex.

National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant

Select Publications

Rakesh, D., Allen, N. B., & Whittle, S. (2020). Balancing act: Neural correlates of affect dysregulation in youth depression and substance use–A systematic review of functional neuroimaging studies. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 100775.


Pozzi, E., Simmons, J. G., Bousman, C. A., Vijayakumar, N., Bray, K. O., Dandash, O., ... & Whittle, S. (2020). The influence of maternal parenting style on the neural correlates of emotion processing in children. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 59(2), 274-282.

Barendse⁠⁠, ⁠M., Simmons⁠, ⁠J.G., Byrne⁠, M.L., Seal⁠, M., Patton⁠, G., Mundy⁠, L., Wood⁠, ⁠S.J., Olsson⁠, C.A., Allen⁠, N.B., Whittle, S. (2018). Brain structural connectivity during adrenarche: Associations between hormone levels and white matter microstructure. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 88, 70-77.

Callaghan, B.L., Dandash, O., Simmons, J.G., Schwartz, O., Byrne, M.L., Sheeber, L., Allen, N.B., Whittle, S. (2017). Amygdala Resting Connectivity Mediates Association Between Maternal Aggression and Adolescent Major Depression: A 7-year Longitudinal Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(11), 983-991.

Vijayakumar, N., Allen, N.B., Dennison, M., Byrne, M.L., Simmons, J.G., Whittle, S. (2017). Cortico-amygdalar maturational coupling is associated with depressive symptom trajectories during adolescence. NeuroImage, 156, 403-411.

Whittle, S., Vijayakumar, N., Simmons, J.G., Dennison, M., Schwartz, O., Pantelis, C., Sheeber, L., Byrne, M.L., Allen, N.B. (2017). Role of Positive Parenting in the Association Between Neighborhood Social Disadvantage and Brain Development Across Adolescence. JAMA psychiatry, 74(8), 824-832.

Whittle. S., Lichter, R., Dennison, M., Vijayakumar, N., Schwartz, O., Byrne, M., Simmons, J.G., Yücel, M., Pantelis, C., McGorry, P., & Allen, N.B. (2014). Structural brain development and depression onset during adolescence: a longitudinal, prospective study. American Journal of Psychiatry , 171(5): 564-571.

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