top of page

Social & Affective Neurodevelopment

Laboratory Head



Elena Pozzi (Research Fellow)
Kate Bray (Research Fellow)
Isabel Zwaan (PhD Candidate)
Sarah Manuele (PhD Candidate)
Stephanie Hartanto (PhD Candidate)
Muskan Khetan (PhD Candidate)
Sylvia Lin (PhD Candidate)
Lucy Zhang (PhD Candidate)
Niousha Dehestani (PhD Candidate)
Manvi Sethi (Honours Student)
Junxuan Zhao (Masters Student)

The Social & Affective Neurodevelopment stream aims to characterise neurodevelopmental risk and resilience factors for common mental health problems in children and adolescents, particularly mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. An important aspect of the research is to incorporate a biopsychosocial approach, investigating whether and how a range of factors, particularly adverse environmental experience, influence and interact with neurodevelopment to confer risk for mental health problems.

Adolescence To Emerging Adulthood (A2EA) Study

The A2EA Study is a prospective longitudinal study that aims to address core questions regarding biological and environmental risk factors for the development of depression and other psychopathologies with common onset during adolescence and emerging adulthood. The study began in 2003 and involved the recruitment of ~250 early adolescents, selected to be at varying levels of risk for psychopathology based on their temperament. Participants were comprehensively assessed at ages 12, 14, 16 and 19 years using a multi-method multi-source battery of validated measures of psychopathology, brain structure/function, temperament, family processes, genetics, endocrine function and family history of psychopathology. We have recently reassessed participants in their mid-twenties.


Funding: NHMRC, ARC, Colonial Foundation, UoM, Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

Collaborators: Orygen - The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences (UoM), Monash University, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Oregon Research Institute (OR, USA), and the University of Oregon (OR, USA).

Key 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.


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.

Ganella, D., Allen, N.B., Simmons, J.G., Schwartz, O., Kim, J.H., Sheeber, L., Whittle, S. (2015). Early life stress alters pituitary growth during adolescence - A longitudinal study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 53: 185-194.

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.

bottom of page