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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

Elena Pozzi (Research Fellow)

Isabel Zwaan (PhD Candidate)

Djamila Eliby (PhD Candidate)

Sarah Manuele (PhD Candidate)

Kate Bray (MPsych/PhD Candidate)

Divyangana Rakesh (PhD Candidate)

Carra Aven Simpson (PhD Candidate)

Lotta Kinnunen (Visitor)


The likely negative mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are undeniable. The potential for negative impacts on the mental health of children and adolescents is particularly concerning. We are conducting a survey with parents in Australia and overseas to investigate parent and family factors associated with child/adolescent mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to establish whether there are modifiable parenting and family factors associated with child mental health that may form the focus of guidelines/advice to parents and/or future intervention work.


All parents with children aged 5-17 are welcome to participate, and the survey takes just 15-20 minutes to complete.

Collaborators:  Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health


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.

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