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Dr Matthew Hale Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Dr Hale was awarded a BBSc(Hons) in 1999 and a PhD (Neuroscience) in 2004 from La Trobe University. He was a postdoctoral research associate at the Henry Wellcome Laboratories for Integrative Neuroscience and Endocrinology at the University of Bristol, Bristol, UK (2005-2007) and then in the Department of Integrative Physiology and Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA (2007-2011).

The primary focus of Dr Hale's research is to understand the neuronal circuitry that underlies emotional states such as anxiety. Anxiety is an adaptive emotional state, leading to behavioural responses including an increase in vigilance and arousal. This increase in vigilance and arousal in the presence of a distant but real threat is adaptive because it reduces the probability of aversive outcomes, including physical or emotional harm. However, anxiety can become chronic or pathological, such that it disrupts functioning in everyday life. The physiological and behavioural arousal associated with anxiety states and anxiety-related behaviours appear to be regulated by a distributed and interconnected system of brain structures including the midbrain raphe complex, the source of the majority of serotonin fibers innervating the forebrain. Understanding the role of serotonergic systems in regulation of emotional states and behaviour is important, as dysfunction of serotonergic systems is thought to play a major role in stress-related neuropsychiatric diseases, including affective and anxiety disorders.

Positions

selected publications