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Sunday28 February 2021

This month we feature research from Dr Talitha Ford of Hawthorn Node. Talitha's Ph.D. work focused on revealing a shared phenotype within the autism and schizotypal spectra at a subclinical level.
Briefly tell us about your research project.
My research interests are focussed on the relationship between the autism and schizophrenia spectra, with my Ph.D. work investigating this relationship  at a subclinical level. I identified a 'shared' trait phenotype that appears to exist across the two spectra, Social Disorganisation, then explored neural correlates of this trait phenotype further using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) at Swinburne's Neuroimaging Facility. Using MEG, auditory change processing differences, elicited from mismatch negativity and oddball paradigms, were found between high and low trait groups.  Differences in metabolite concentrations of glutamate and GABA as quantified with 1H-MRS were also found in the superior temporal regions. I'm excited to extend these findings clinically and to further investigate convergent and divergent dimensions of the two disorders.
Who are your supervisors?
My Ph.D. was supervised by Professor David Crewther and Dr Will Woods of Swinburne University.
What imaging equipment are you using?
My Ph.D research made good use of the MEG and 3T Siemens Tim Trio MRI scanner (for 1H-MRS) at Swinburne. Currently, I am collaborating on a project using the Neuroimaging Facility's EEG system.
How did you find accessing and using the equipment?
After the usual approval process, the MEG facilities are excellent and very accessible as the technicians were super helpful and invested in ensuring quality data and a positive experience. Similarly, the MRI facilities are excellent, and are in hot demand as they offer a very broad range of services.
Did you work across sites? If so, how did you find accessing the equipment across sites?
I unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to work across sites yet, it's certainly something I look forward to, however.
Thank you very much for your time, Talitha!