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Investigating the role of perineuronal nets as a non-cellular mechanism of emotion and mood

cortex neuronal ecm

Emotions and mood have a bidirectional influence with our physiology, behaviour, cognition, and immune system.

Hence mood disorders such as depression are debilitating and co-exist with other diseases. On the other hand, positive mood states are linked to well-being and increased immune response.

Understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning positive and negative emotions will elucidate pathways of resilience to stress and disease and provide enhancement of animal and human welfare.

Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are extracellular matrix structures surrounding neurons which provide protection and influence synaptic plasticity; integral to learning and memory consolidation. Changes in PNN morphology are seen in models of stress.

This project will investigate perineuronal nets as a non-cellular mechanism of emotion and mood.


Alexandra Whittaker


Dr Alexandra Whittaker


Jane MorphettProfessor Mark Hutchinson

Research area:

Animal welfare, animal and veterinary sciences, behavioural neuroscience

Recommended honours enrolment:

Honours in Animal Science or Honours in Molecular and Biomedical Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Animal science, Honours in Animal Science subtheme - Animal behaviour, Honours projects - Molecular and biomedical science: Other, Honours projects - Alexandra Whittaker, Honours projects - Mark Hutchinson

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition