Friday, 11 October 2013

Introducing Zola Mannie

After completing my Honours and Masters degree in Applied Psychology (Brunel University) I worked at the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University on the strength of a joint psychology and psychiatric nursing background. I pursued a PhD in Psychology program at Oxford Brookes University supported with funding from the University Department of Psychiatry. At completion of the PhD program I continued pursuing my research as a Post Doc within the department.

My main area of research covers the identification of neurobiological and psychosocial vulnerability markers of depression. I am specifically interested in investigating young people at increased familial risk of depression 1) to establish whether the HPA axis hyperactivity (from waking cortisol hypersecretion measured from saliva) they demonstrate may also place them at increased risk to associated medical conditions such as the metabolic syndrome and vascular disease (measuring insulin resistance from fasting glucose and insulin levels; and endothelial dysfunction from Flow Mediated Dilatation (FMD); and other mechanisms underpinning the associations between vulnerability to depression and these medical conditions; 2) to assess whether they also present with deficits in cognitive functioning (with particular focus on working memory) and abnormalities in the neural substrates of these functions.

I am also interested in investigating the use of computerised cognitive training programs designed to improve working memory and related deficits in executive function. The ultimate aim of this work has been to identify impairments that can be targeted for prevention aimed at increasing resilience to reduce the incidence of depression. My methods of investigation are predominantly cross-sectional with biological, cognitive and behavioural measures as well as neuroimaging techniques, although I have also used short-term prospective cohort methods within funding constraints.

I am currently a Research Fellow on a short-term contract working closely with Professor Nouwen in a range of projects that combine various biological measures with cognitive function techniques as methods of investigation. I am also establishing collaborations with Lygeri Dimitrou from the London Sports Institute in the hope that we could conduct joint studies requiring salivary hormonal or inflammatory assessment to give context to cognitive processes.

Zola Mannie

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