Research Overview

My research group works on the causes and treatment of neuropsychiatric disease, with a particular focus on neuroimaging. Our work on schizophrenia, for example, explores its white matter structural abnormalities, looking for patterns of aberrant connectivity, and their relationship to cognition and symptoms. More recently we have begun exporing the cognitive deficits using molecular imaging.

Our work on unexplained syndromes has taken a number of investigative angles, as befits these complex disorders. This ranges from the philsophical exploration of their pathophysiology to the development of novel neuroimaging paradigms to capture them. We have focussed on chronic fatigue syndrome, functional neurological disorder and, most recently, on the unexplained syndrome attributed to tick bites in Australia. In addition to increasing our understanding of these disorders, we are exploring a number of innovative treatments through clinical trials.



1 Kanaan, R., Castle, D., Olver, J., O’Keefe, G., Wilson, S., Jayaram, M. Characterising the Muscarinic Receptor Deficit in Schizophrenia, National Health and Medical Research Council (2021-2024) $476,543.32 Ideas Grant

2. Kanaan, R., Castle, D., Olver, J., O’Keefe, G., Winton-Brown, T., Allebone, J. Cerebral blood flow during psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, National Health and Medical Research Council (2021-2024) $397,322.15 Ideas Grant

3. Kanaan, R., Breathing Control as a treatment for Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures, (2020), $44,346, Melbourne Research Grant Support Scheme

4. Rolfe, T., Kanaan, R., Khanna, R., Redston, S., A randomised sham controlled clinical trial using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Austin Medical Research Foundation (2020), $16,000

5. Kanaan, R., Wilson, S., Exposure therapy for FND, Austin Medical Research Foundation (2020), $13,000

6. Velakoulis, D., Berkovic, S., Pantelis, C., Collins, S., D’Souza W., Kanaan, R. O’Brien, T., Kwan, P., Masters, C., Evans, A., Watson, R., Gunn, J., Malpas, C., Dhamidhu, E. Clinical utility of plasma neurofilament light chain in the diagnostic borderland of psychiatric and neurological disorders: An “ESR” for the brain? MACH MRFF Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) (2019-2021), $275,000

7. Kanaan, R., Chalder, T., Wilson, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Macdonell, R., Braat, S., Gibney, K. Developing Treatment for Debilitating Symptom Complexes attributed to Ticks, National Health and Medical Research Council (2019-2023), $1,055,765.76, Targeted Call

8. Kanaan, R., Berk, M., Back, S., Redston, S. N-acetylcysteine as an Adjunctive Treatment in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Defence Health Foundation (2018-20), $192,816, Booster Grant

Research Publications

TOP 5 publications

Aybek S, Nicholson TR, Zelaya F, O’Daly OG, Craig TJ, David AS, Kanaan RA. Neural correlates of recall of life events in Conversion Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry 2014; 71(1): 52-60. PubMed

Olver JS, Castro-de-Araujo LFS, Mullen S, O’Brien T, Berlangieri SU, Vivash L, Velakoulis D, Lichtenstein M, Kanaan RAA . Ictal Cerebral Blood Flow in Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: A Preliminary SPECT study. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2019; 90(12): 1378-80. PubMed

Nicholson TR, Aybek S, Craig T, Harris T, Wojcik W, David AS , Kanaan RA. Life events and escape in conversion disorder. Psychol Med 2016; 46(12):2617-26. PubMed

Phelps AJ, Kanaan RAA, Worsnop C, Redston S, Ralph N, Forbes D. An ambulatory PSG study of the posttraumatic nightmares of posttraumatic stress disorder. Sleep 2018; 41(1).PubMed

Castro-de-Araujo LFS, Allin M, Picchioni MM, Mcdonald C, Pantelis C, Kanaan RAA. Schizophrenia moderates the relationship between white matter integrity and cognition, Schizophrenia Research 2018; Sep 199: 250-6. PubMed

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Professor Richard Kanaan

Department / Centre

Psychiatry , Austin Health

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