Dr Alexis Whitton

NHMRC Early Career Fellow
School of Medical Sciences, Physiology


Website Personal website
ORCID ID
Curriculum vitae Curriculum vitae

Map

Biographical details

2016-2019, NHMRC CJ Martin Fellow, Harvard Medical School & Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney

2013-2015, Postdoctoral Fellow in Affective Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School

2013, Combined Masters in Clinical Psychology & PhD, University of New South Wales

2009, Bachelor of Psychology, University of New South Wales

Research interests

My research uses neuroimaging to identify brain-based markers that may aid in the early detection of depression and bipolar disorder, and which may inform the development of novel treatments for psychiatric diseases.

Specifically, my work focuses on identifying the neurobiological mechanisms that give rise to discrete mood disorder phenotypes, with a specific focus on the neural circuitry that supports motivated behavior. This is a conscious attempt to circumvent the considerable heterogeneity currently seen both between and within DSM-defined mood disorders and that thwarts treatment efforts. Through my work I have highlighted several abnormalities in the behavioral, neural and molecular mechanisms that underpin reward processing, which differ between bipolar disorder and unipolar major depression and may be able to distinguish the two conditions.Funded by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the US National Institute of Mental Health, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, and McLean Hospital, I have been directly examining each of these abnormalities as potential biomarkers of bipolar disorder in individuals with current clinical depression, as well as in youth with emerging mood pathology.

Current projects

2016-2019,Using reward-based biomarkers to improve the early detection of bipolar disorder in young people seeking treatment for depression. NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship

2016-2018, Differences in circadian rhythm disruption across unipolar and bipolar depression, Andrew P. Merrill Memorial Foundation

2016-2018, The relationship between resting glutamate, corticostriatal connectivity and delay discounting: Identifying potential predictors of (hypo)mania in depressive disorders. NARSAD Young Investigator Award, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

Associations

2017-, Organization for Human Brain Mapping

2015-, Society of Biological Psychiatry

2015, Social and Affective Neuroscience Society

2015, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

2011-2013, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy

2012, International Organization for Psychophysiology

2012, International Neuropsychological Society

2012, Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society

2011-2012, Australian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

2011-2012, Society for Neuroscience

2009-2010, Society for Australasian Social Psychologists

Awards and honours

2017, Travel Award, Society of Biological Psychiatry

2016, Andrew P. Merrill Early Career Award, Merrill Memorial Foundation

2015, Alies Muskin Career Leadership Award, Anxiety and Depression Association of America

2015, R.G. Menzies Scholar of 2016, Menzies Foundation of Australia

2014, Sir Keith Murdoch Award, American Australian Association

2014, Andrew P. Merrill Postdoctoral Fellowship, Merrill Memorial Foundation

2011, Postgraduate research award, Society of Australasian Social Psychologists

2011, Posgraduate Research Scheme Award, University of New South Wales

2011, UNSW Three Minute Thesis Prize, University of New South Wales

2011, Dean's Award for Achievements in Research, University of New South Wales

In the media

2015, "Effects of stress on the experience of physical pain", Expert commentary for the Boston Globe

2015, "Higher depression, suicide rate in women explained?" Expert commentary for Medscape Medical News.

2012, "Are we getting smarter?", Guest speaker on ABC Radio National

2012, "Reading facial expressions of disgust", Guest speaker on ABC Radio National

Selected grants

2016

  • Using reward-based biomarkers to improve the early detection of bipolar disorder in individuals seeking treatment for depression; Whitton A, Whitton A; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Early Career Fellowships.

Selected publications

Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

Journals

  • Nangle, M., Bailey, P., Henry, J., Khlentzos, G., Varcin, K., Whitton, A. (2018). Age invariance in rapid facial affective reactions to emotionally valenced stimuli. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(8), 1687-1697. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Deccy, S., Ironside, M., Kumar, P., Beltzer, M., Pizzagalli, D. (2018). Functional Connectivity Reveals Abnormal High-Frequency Communication Among Large-Scale Functional Networks in Depression. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 3(1), 50-58. [More Information]
  • Peechatka, A., Whitton, A., Farmer, S., Pizzagalli, D., Janes, A. (2015). Cigarette craving is associated with blunted reward processing in nicotine-dependent smokers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 155, 202-207. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Grisham, J. (2015). Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54(1), 16-33. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Treadway, M., Pizzagalli, D. (2015). Reward processing dysfunction in major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 28(1), 7-12. [More Information]
  • Janes, A., Pedrelli, P., Whitton, A., Pechtel, P., Douglas, S., Martinson, M., Huz, I., Fava, M., Pizzagalli, D., Evins, A. (2015). Reward responsiveness varies by smoking status in women with a history of major depressive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(8), 1940-1946. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Rendell, P., Grisham, J. (2014). Disgust, but not anger provocation, enhances levator labii superioris activity during exposure to moral transgressions. Biological Psychology, 96(1), 48-56. [More Information]
  • Clarke, J., Proudfoot, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2014). Effects of mental health self-efficacy on outcomes of a mobile phone and web intervention for mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: Secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 1-10. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Nicholas, J., Smith, M. (2014). Evidence of weekly cyclicity in mood and functional impairment in those with a bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Research, 218(3), 290-294. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Grisham, J. (2014). Moral rigidity in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Do abnormalities in inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and disgust play a role? Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 45(1), 152-159. [More Information]
  • Grisham, J., Becker, L., Williams, A., Whitton, A., Makkar, S. (2014). Using Cognitive Bias Modification to Deflate Responsibility in Compulsive Checkers. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 38(5), 505-517. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Clarke, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2013). Impact of a mobile phone and web program on symptom and functional outcomes for people with mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: A randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 1-12. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J. (2013). The relationship between sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive symptoms and social cognition in chronic schizophrenia. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52(2), 115-128. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., Whitton, A., Nicholas, J., Smith, M., Burckhardt, R. (2012). Effects of adjunctive peer support on perceptions of illness control and understanding in an online psychoeducation program for bipolar disorder: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 142(1-3), 98-105. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Jayawant, A., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Smith, M., Nicholas, J. (2012). Mechanisms underpinning effective peer support: A qualitative analysis of interactions between expert peers and patients newly-diagnosed with bipolar disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 12, 1-11. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Doran, J., Manicavasagar, V., Delmas, K. (2012). Triggers of mania and depression in young adults with bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 143(1-Mar), 196-202. [More Information]

2018

  • Nangle, M., Bailey, P., Henry, J., Khlentzos, G., Varcin, K., Whitton, A. (2018). Age invariance in rapid facial affective reactions to emotionally valenced stimuli. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(8), 1687-1697. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Deccy, S., Ironside, M., Kumar, P., Beltzer, M., Pizzagalli, D. (2018). Functional Connectivity Reveals Abnormal High-Frequency Communication Among Large-Scale Functional Networks in Depression. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 3(1), 50-58. [More Information]

2015

  • Peechatka, A., Whitton, A., Farmer, S., Pizzagalli, D., Janes, A. (2015). Cigarette craving is associated with blunted reward processing in nicotine-dependent smokers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 155, 202-207. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Grisham, J. (2015). Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of disgust in obsessive-compulsive disorder. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 54(1), 16-33. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Treadway, M., Pizzagalli, D. (2015). Reward processing dysfunction in major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 28(1), 7-12. [More Information]
  • Janes, A., Pedrelli, P., Whitton, A., Pechtel, P., Douglas, S., Martinson, M., Huz, I., Fava, M., Pizzagalli, D., Evins, A. (2015). Reward responsiveness varies by smoking status in women with a history of major depressive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 40(8), 1940-1946. [More Information]

2014

  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Rendell, P., Grisham, J. (2014). Disgust, but not anger provocation, enhances levator labii superioris activity during exposure to moral transgressions. Biological Psychology, 96(1), 48-56. [More Information]
  • Clarke, J., Proudfoot, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2014). Effects of mental health self-efficacy on outcomes of a mobile phone and web intervention for mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: Secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 1-10. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Nicholas, J., Smith, M. (2014). Evidence of weekly cyclicity in mood and functional impairment in those with a bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Research, 218(3), 290-294. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J., Grisham, J. (2014). Moral rigidity in obsessive-compulsive disorder: Do abnormalities in inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and disgust play a role? Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 45(1), 152-159. [More Information]
  • Grisham, J., Becker, L., Williams, A., Whitton, A., Makkar, S. (2014). Using Cognitive Bias Modification to Deflate Responsibility in Compulsive Checkers. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 38(5), 505-517. [More Information]

2013

  • Proudfoot, J., Clarke, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2013). Impact of a mobile phone and web program on symptom and functional outcomes for people with mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: A randomised controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 1-12. [More Information]
  • Whitton, A., Henry, J. (2013). The relationship between sub-clinical obsessive-compulsive symptoms and social cognition in chronic schizophrenia. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 52(2), 115-128. [More Information]

2012

  • Proudfoot, J., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., Whitton, A., Nicholas, J., Smith, M., Burckhardt, R. (2012). Effects of adjunctive peer support on perceptions of illness control and understanding in an online psychoeducation program for bipolar disorder: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 142(1-3), 98-105. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Jayawant, A., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Smith, M., Nicholas, J. (2012). Mechanisms underpinning effective peer support: A qualitative analysis of interactions between expert peers and patients newly-diagnosed with bipolar disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 12, 1-11. [More Information]
  • Proudfoot, J., Whitton, A., Parker, G., Doran, J., Manicavasagar, V., Delmas, K. (2012). Triggers of mania and depression in young adults with bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 143(1-Mar), 196-202. [More Information]

To update your profile click here. For support on your academic profile contact .