The University of Melbourne
Research Field: Psychiatry
Dr. Zalesky’s research shows that mental symptoms are caused by physical changes occurring in a person’s brain. Using sophisticated brain imaging methods he can ‘peer’ into a living person’s brain and study abnormalities in the way different regions of the brain are wired together by an amazingly complex network of axons. Sometimes these axons can suffer “short circuits” or fail to develop properly from birth, causing the appearance of the mental symptoms. By comparing brain wiring patterns in healthy people to those with mental illness, he can pinpoint malfunctioning brain circuits that can potentially be repaired by new treatment options.
Andrew recently led a study reporting the first evidence of axonal pathology in cannabis users. This study gained local and international media coverage, including print, radio and TV and sparked extensive activity on social media. He has helped to scientifically inform public debate on cannabis legalisation in Australia by publicising evidence of the harms of this drug on the human brain. Andrew has a role with the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute which host high school students interested in careers in neuroscience and mental health.