NeuRA Magazine #26

In the media


The international Living to 100 Conference was recently held in Sydney hosted by the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney.

The conference brought together leaders in the field of ageing from around the globe to debate and unravel the secrets of successful ageing.

The internationally acclaimed line up of speakers included NeuRA’s CEO Professor Peter Schofield, NeuRA Senior Research Scientist, Dr Karen Mather and NeuRA Senior Research Facility Manager, Dr Claire Shepherd.

Over the two-day conference experts deliberated on the latest research on exceptionally long-lived individuals, in particular centenarians and supercentenarians. But a hotly debated question at the conference was, Can humans live to 150? While some experts were pessimistic, Professor Peter Schofield, who has been studying the brain for decades is more optimistic.

“The things that may make it possible to conceive that humans will live to 150 are probably going to have to be quite innovative – they are probably going to need things like potential genetic therapies, drug therapies,” Professor Schofield told SBS News.

See what’s going on at NeuRA


Exploring the electrophysiology and heritability of wellbeing and resilience

The majority of adults without a mental illness still experience poor mental health, indicating a need for a better understanding of what separates mental wellness from mental illness. One way of exploring what separates those with good mental health from those with poor mental health is to use electroencephalography (EEG) to explore differences in brain activity within the healthy population. Previous research has shown that EEG measures differ between clinical groups and healthy participants, suggesting that these measures are useful indicators of mental functioning. Miranda Chilver’s current project aims to examine how different EEG measures relate to each other and to test if they can be used to predict mental wellbeing. Furthermore, she hopes to distinguish between EEG markers of symptoms including depression and anxiety, and markers of positive symptoms of wellbeing to better understand how wellbeing can exist independently of mental illness. This will be done by obtaining measures of wellbeing and depression and anxiety symptoms using the COMPAS-W and DASS-42 questionnaires, respectively. Because EEG measures and mental wellbeing are both impacted by genetics as well as the environment, Miranda will also be testing whether the links found between EEG activity and Wellbeing are driven primarily by heritable or by environmental factors. This information will inform the development of future interventions that will aim to improve wellbeing in the general population. To achieve these goals, the project will assess the relationship between EEG activity and wellbeing, and between EEG and depression and anxiety symptoms to first test whether there is an association between EEG and mental health. Second, the heritability of the EEG, wellbeing, depression, and anxiety will be assessed to determine the extent to which these variables are explained through heritable or environmental factors. Finally, a model assessing the overlap between the heritable versus environmental contributions to each measure will be developed to assess whether genetics or environment drive the relationship between EEG and mental health. This project is based on a sample of over 400 healthy adult twins from the Australian TWIN-E study of resilience led by Dr Justine Gatt. This research will pave the way for improved mental health interventions based on individual needs.