A researcher from The University of Western Australia who also is one of the world's leading experts on emotion will today receive a prestigious national award in Canberra.
Winthrop Professor Colin MacLeod, who is among Australia's most highly cited psychologists, will be presented with a Citation Award as part of the 2012 Thomson Reuters Australia Citation & Innovation Awards at the National Press Club. The citation awards recognise 12 of Australia's top researchers who have had the highest impact in their fields globally.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson said the University's success and reputation for excellence was very much based on the quality of its staff, and Professor MacLeod was an outstanding example.
"Our aim is to create a first-class teaching, learning and research environment while nurturing and developing high-quality staff at all levels and across all areas of the University," Professor Johnson said.
Professor MacLeod, who is Director of UWA's Elizabeth Rutherford Memorial Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion (CARE), said his strong record of citation reflected the fact that his work had helped bring together the two fields of cognitive psychology - the study of how the brain processes information - and clinical psychology, which seeks to explain and treat psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
"The work I've done, in collaboration with many other first-rate colleagues, has produced several innovations that have illuminated the important relationship between styles of information processing and emotional disposition," Professor MacLeod said. "Advances in our appreciation of how cognition influences emotion, and the methodologies we have developed to investigate the detailed nature of this association, have helped to reshape understanding of emotional vulnerability and dysfunction."
"As a young scientist completing my PhD at Oxford University I was privileged to work with the late Donald Broadbent, a very influential experimental psychologist widely regarded as the father of cognitive psychology. This approach conceives of the brain as a biological computer and attempts to explain normal mental capability and experience in terms of how the brain takes in information, transforms it into different codes, stores it and retrieves it."
Most recently, Professor MacLeod has gained international recognition for developing and pioneering a new approach to treating anxiety and depression, known as cognitive-bias modification (CBM).
The treatment can be effective after only a few 15-minute sessions and does not involve drug or counselling therapy. All it requires is sitting in front of a computer and using a program that subtly alters the patterns of information processing that give rise to harmful thought patterns.
It has already been shown to work for anxiety and addictions, and is now being tested for alcohol abuse, post-traumatic-stress disorder and several other disturbances of the mind.
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