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The science of addiction

We all have our own ways of pursuing pleasure: some of us exercise; some of us love gaming; some of us can’t resist another bit of chocolate. But what happens when our ability to manage the pursuit of pleasure goes wrong? In this episode of A Grey Matter, we talked to QBI’s Dr James Kesby about the brain’s reward mechanism – the dopamine system – and how faults in this mechanism can cause disorders such as depression and addiction.


Living well with dementia

John Quinn was diagnosed with early-onset dementia in his late 50s. Despite falling into a deep depression after his initial diagnosis, John is now a strong advocate for greater dementia awareness and research. In this episode of A Grey Matter, we hear from John and his partner Glenys, on their shared experience of living with John’s dementia. They are embarking on a four-day trek across Tasmania this October to raise vital funds for dementia research here at QBI.


Super memory - what it's like to remember being a baby

Most of us can remember what we had for breakfast this morning. But, if you tried, could you remember what you had for breakfast on this today a week ago? Or, even further back, on this date last year, or five years ago? Rebecca Sharrock does. She’s one of a very small group of people in the world — about 60 known cases — who have a rare condition known as highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM. People with HSAM remember an incredible amount of their past experiences. Why they do...


Living with narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders

We all know what it feels like to have a bad night's sleep - and feel tired and irritable the next day. Sleep plays such an important role in recharging our minds and bodies – but what if, no matter how much sleep you had, you didn't wake rejuvenated the next day? In this episode, we're taking sleep disorders – everything from sleepwalking to problems getting to sleep in the first place. We’ll hear from Declan, a 24-year-old man with narcolepsy, and Dr Chelsie Rohrscheib, a sleep researcher...


The science of musical creativity

What's going on in the brain when someone creates new music? Musical improvisation is a skill that draws on many parts of the brain and is also related to creativity in other domains. In this episode of A Grey Matter, we speak to legendary jazz pianist Jason Rebello and UQ neuroscientist Professor Geoff Goodhill to explore the science behind musical creativity. Jason Rebello is a leading jazz pianist from the UK, who spent 10 years touring the world first with Sting and then Jeff Beck. He...


Tennis champ Casey Dellacqua on concussion

Tennis is not usually a sport you’d associate with concussion, but for Casey Dellacqua, head injury hits close to home. The former dual Olympian, World No. 26 singles and World No. 3 doubles player suffered a concussion during a match in October 2015, which put her out of action for almost a year. She shares her experiences in this episode of A Grey Matter.


Ep 29 | How an adult with autism inspired this young researcher

Autism is a condition that affects a person’s ability to interact socially and relate to the world around them. The degree to which a person is affected ranges across a wide spectrum, from severe difficulties in communicating to mild symptoms. Mia Langguth, a researcher at QBI, works part-time as a carer for Chris, a 24-year-old man with autism. She became a disability support worker almost by chance, but it's a job that has shaped the direction of her career.


How do general anaesthetics work and what can they tell us about consciousness?

Why and how do we sleep and what is consciousness? Are all animals that sleep by definition conscious when they are awake? Associate Professor Bruno van Swinderen studies fruit flies and has recently published research which shows that flies have distinct sleep stages. General anaesthetics extinguish consciousness in humans, but how do they really work? His research shows that common mechanisms might be involved in all animals. What do sleep and general anaesthesia together tell us about how...


Do brain stimulation devices make you smarter?

When it comes to self-improvement, there’s no shortage of books, tips, websites and online articles, particularly when it comes to boosting memory or brain power. The search term “hack your brain” turns up more than 7 million hits on Google. In this episode, we’re talking about brain stimulation – using external devices involving magnetic fields and electricity to zap the brain. In recent years, a market of do-it-yourself devices has developed, promising products that can deliver a – quote...


Sleep deprivation and what happens to your brain

We all know what it feels like after a bad night’s sleep – you’re tired, sluggish, and it’s hard to concentrate. Lack of sleep can have lasting effects on the mind and body. So why is sleep so important? Dr Leonie Kirszenblat talks from a scientific and personal perspective about sleep deprivation and what happens to the brain when we don't get enough.


Sallyanne and Ita: the impacts of dementia

Sallyanne Atkinson AO, Chair of QBI’s Advisory Board, talks to Ita Buttrose AO OBE, about her experience caring for her father, who had dementia. Ita is a national ambassador for Dementia Australia (formerly Alzheimer’s Australia.


What is AI and will it take over the world

We have about 100 billion neurons in the brain, which contains a lot of information and processing power for a computer to try to emulate. So, how does AI work? Just how close are we to creating human-like computers, or even bionic body parts?


OCD and deep brain stimulation

We talk to neurologist and researcher Professor Peter Silburn about OCD and how deep brain stimulation, like in Parkinson's disease, could help those with the most severe form of the disorder.


Understanding, preventing and treating dementia

QBI researchers are doing all they can to understand and develop new treatments for dementia. In this episode, Dr Gerhard Leinenga explains the different types of dementia, whether it's possible to reduce the risk of getting it, and exciting QBI research that has reduced the symptoms of Alzheimer's in animal models.


Stroke – a mother and daughter's story

"At 31, my mother had a stroke which happened in an instant, and whose effect will span her entire life." Zoe McDonald interviews her mother, Dr Lavinia Codd, who is a stroke survivor and now stroke researcher at the Queensland Brain Institute. Zoe was just two at the time and she talks with her mother about the impact the stroke had on their family.


Depression and anxiety: what's going on in the brain?

We talk to Dr Dhanisha Jhaveri about the biological foundations of depression and anxiety. Two key structures, the hippocampus and the amygdala are integral to memory and emotions, respectively, and Dr Jhaveri studies how these function normally in order to understand what might happen when things go wrong..


When gaming meets neuroscience

Dr Bianca De Wit, from the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney talks gaming - of the neuro kind. Just what is this new field of neurogaming and how can it be used for learning? Can playing games make us more intelligent?


Mia Freedman: my struggle with anxiety

"Anxiety is often something that you can't even attach to something. It's just almost an existential feeling of dread or fear." Mia Freedman is the founder and director of the Mamamia Women's Network and seems to have it all together. But here she talks openly about her personal struggle with anxiety, how she was convinced she had a non-existent cancer, and when her world came tumbling down.


Sleep basics: do you get enough sleep

Sleep. We all need it, but are we getting enough? How much sleep do we need to function on a day to day basis without feeling fatigued or irritable? What are the side effects of sleep deprivation? It is sleep awareness week and to get all the important answers we are talking to Dr Chelsie Rohrscheib, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Cognitive and Behavioural Lab of Associate Professor Bruno Van Swinderen at the Queensland Brain Institute.


The fundamentals of basic science

What is basic/fundamental science? Dr Steven Zuryn explains the slow burn of basic science, how it is the building block for many of our current scientific endeavours and that it has the ability to help affect generations to come.