University of Melbourne
Research Field: Clinical Neuropsychology and Neuroscience
Dr. Van Rheenen’s research is focused on understanding the characteristics of bipolar disorder. She looks at the everyday social activities people engage in and how they respond when confronted with an emotionally evocative situation. This relates to the ability to rapidly use attention and memory to recognise the emotional expressions of others and subsequently integrate this non-verbal information with the surrounding context. For people with bipolar disorder, these thinking skills are impaired and Tamsyn’s research seeks to understand these impairments and why they occur. Using a combination of research techniques that measure brain activity, behaviour and the influence of genes she can investigate their underlying causes; whether they are heritable and how they influence the everyday functioning of people with bipolar disorder. It is hoped that this research will provide further insight into the symptoms of the disorder, enable the identification of people at risk for it, and lead to the development of better treatments for people who experience it.
Tamsyn engages with the public through her twitter account and has written for the Monash University / Bipolar Disorder Society newsletters. She also supports young researchers in a career mentorship role. This also includes her inclusion on several voluntary committees that are also aimed at establishing and retaining researchers interested in the study of mood disorders