Dr Mac Shine
Neuroimaging Research Fellow, Sydney Medical SchoolCJ Martin Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University
Full list of peer-reviewed publications
|Curriculum vitae||Curriculum vitae|
I am an Early Career Researcher currently employed as a Postdoctoral Neuroimaging Fellow with the Parkinson’s Disease Research Clinic at the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney, Australia.
After graduating with a medical degree from the University of Sydney in 2007, I completed my medical residency and obtained medical registration in Australia. I have since successfully finished my PhD, in which I explored the brain network abnormalities associated with symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including freezing of gait and visual hallucinations. Recently, I was awarded a prestigious CJ Martin fellowship by the National Health and Medical Research Council, which will pay my way to work with Professor Russell Poldrack at the Stanford University!
In my work, I use multimodal neuroimaging techniques (most notably functional MRI) to explore both normal and abnormal patterns of neuronal communication in disorders of the ageing brain. I have a particular interest in the use of novel techniques to explore patterns of brain activity that reflect communication between regions of the brain, allowing for the characterization of dynamic patterns of brain activity that reflect both normal function and impairments in neuropsychiatric disease.
Teaching and supervision
I regularly lecture for the students of the Postgraduate Program at the Brain and Mind Research Institute on various topics, including functional neuroimaging, attention, cognition, Parkinson's disease and dementia.
I am also the auxillary supervisor for a Medical Honours student and regularly mentor a number of junior members of Professor Simon Lewis' research laboratory at the Parkinson's Disease Research Clinic within the Ageing Brain Clinic at the Brain and Mind Research Institute.
Freezing of gait
Freezing of gait is a devastating movement disorder that affects a high proportion of the people that suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Until recently, the basic mechanisms underlying freezing have remained mysterious, however recent insights from functional brain imaging experiments have fundamentally altered our view of the disorder. Using a unique combination of virtual reality-based gait task and novel functional neuroimaging techniques, I have been able to show that freezing behaviour is related to functional decoupling within corticostriatal circuitry. Furthermore, by combining insights from neuroimaging with concepts from neuropsychology and computational modeling, I have proposed a novel hypothesis which suggests that freezing behaviour is related to over-activity in the subthalamic nucleus, a prediction which we are now directly testing during deep brain stimulation therapy at Westmead Hospital.
Visual hallucinations are common across a number of disorders but to date, a unifying pathophysiology underlying these phenomena has not been described. Recently, I have worked with colleagues and collaborators to propose a testable neural mechanism for visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease that conceptualizes the disorder as an impairment in the communication within and between large-scale Attentional Control Networks. Since the creation of this hypothetical framework, we have developed an objective marker of visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease and published two neuroimaging studies presenting multi-modal evidence in support of the model. We are now focused on an extension of our model that reconceives visual hallucinations by their underlying neurobiological basis, regardless of the neurobiological disease process underlying their manifestation. We hope that this model will rapidly advance our conception of the dynamic neural circuitry underlying perception and consciousness.
What is special about the human brain? Although humans have large brains relative to body size, recent work has shown that the major differences between humans and our evolutionary relatives are due to the specific expansion of interconnected networks involving the cortex and the cerebellum. Recently, I have worked with my father Professor Rick Shine, who is an Evolutionary Biologist by trade, to propose that these newly evolved systems have vastly improved our ability to delegate control over repetitive tasks from higher to lower neural centres. Furthermore, we propose that the massive neurocomputational challenges associated with the mastery of balance during the evolution of bipedality provided a strong selective advantage to individuals with brains capable of internally transferring tasks in this way. Thus, the challenges associated with walking on two legs may have driven the rapid evolution of the human brain, leading to the rapid automisation of behaviour, freeing up conscious networks to focus on more novel or challenging tasks.
Organisation for Human Brain Mapping
Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Movement Disorders Society
Awards and honours
2014 -National Health and Medical Research Council – CJ Martin Fellowship.
2014 - Parkinson's NSW Seed Grant.
2013 - Parkes Rotary Scholarship.
2012 - Parkes Rotary Scholarship.
2011 - Scholarship for Cognitive Neuroscience - The University of Sydney.
In the media
My work has been broadcast across multiple popular media outlets, including ABC's Catalyst television program and popular Science magazines, such as Australasian Science.
- Identifying the role of dopamine on the neural correlates underlying visual misperception and hallucinations in Parkinson's Disease; Lewis S, Shine J; Parkinson's New South Wales Incorporated/Research Support.