The 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.


Dr Julian Simmons

Rachel Brodie (RA)

Elena Pozzi (Research Fellow)

Isabel Zwaan (PhD Candidate)

Kate Bray (MPsych/PhD)

Divyangana Rakesh (PhD)

Carra Aven Simpson (PhD)

Lotta Kinnunen (Visitor)


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 plan to reassess 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).


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.

Simmons, J. G., Azpitarte, F., Roost, F. D., Dommers, E., Allen, N. B., Havighurst, S., & Haslam, N. (2018). Correlates of hair cortisol concentrations in disadvantaged young children. Stress and Health.


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.




University of Melbourne and

Melbourne Health

Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre

Level 3, Alan Gilbert Building

161 Barry Street

Carlton, Victoria, 3053