Psychological SIG

SIG leaders

List of Investigators


  • Professor Andrew Page, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Andrew Whitehouse, University of Western Australia
  • Associate Professor Anne Smith, Curtin University
  • Dr Ashleigh Lin, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Dr Chi Le-Ha, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Darren Beales, Curtin University
  • Professor Florian Daniel Zepf, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Gail Alvares, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Dr Garth Kendall, Curtin University
  • Dr Jianghong Li, Curtin University
  • Dr Kandice Varcin, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Emeritus Professor Lawrence Beilin, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Maria Pushpanathan, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Megan Galbally, Murdoch University and Notre Dame University
  • Dr Michelle Olaithe, University of Western Australia
  • Professor Murray Maybery, University of Western Australia
  • Adjunct Professor Rob Eikelboom, Ear Science Institute Australia
  • Professor Romola Bucks, University of Western Australia
  • Dr Kevin Runions, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Mr Will Mcintosh, University of Western Australia


  • Professor Wendy Oddy, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania
  • Sarah Cohen-Woods, Flinders University


  • Dr Karina Allen – Institute of Psychiatry, London
  • A/Prof Renee Goodwin, Columbia University & CUNY, New York

Overview of the current data resources available in the SIG area

The psychological SIG incorporates a large data resource from early life through adulthood for Generation 2. The data covers early cognitive and motor development, psychopathology throughout childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, and psychological indices.  Because the same measures have been used at various time points, this data provides a unique opportunity to examine psychological development over time.  Examples of data include:

  • Early motor and cognitive development – Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Bayley Scales of Infant Development
  • Language development: Early Language Milestone Scale
  • Family functioning: McMaster Family Assessment Device
  • Mental health: Child Behaviour Check List and Youth Self Report

Overview of current/recent SIG activity

The Psychological SIG is currently engaged in a wide range of research. Some of the current research projects are listed below:

  • Early determinants of mental health and wellbeing
  • Associations between psychopathology and pain in adolescence and early adulthood
  • The association between language development and biological indices such as head circumference
  • Psycho-pathological outcomes and gender diversity
  • Association of later depression with inflammatory markers and red blood fatty acids
  • Adolescent wellbeing and parental work hours
  • Cognitive ability and sleep

Outline of SIG plans for next 5 years

  • The mental health and well being of the Raine Generation 2 Cohort in early adulthood – Now that the Gen 2 cohort has passed the peak age of risk for the onset of psychiatric disorders, we are aiming to conduct the 30-year follow-up focused on mental health.  By gaining a clear picture of past and current mental health issues in the Cohort, we hope to gain valuable information on the onset and trajectories of psychiatric disorders.  We will also examine risk and protective factors.
  • Integration of Raine data with other cohorts around the world – Through the LIFECYCLE Project we will combine Raine psychological data with that of birth cohorts in Europe to allow more in-depth analysis of mental wellbeing.

Brief list of potential student/early career researcher projects

The Psychological SIG members are happy to talk to any prospective Masters, M.D. and PhD student, and early career fellows. If your research interest is not listed below, please approach us with ideas. There is a huge range of exciting data that can be utilised in student and post-doctoral projects:

  • The LifeCycle Project is a large project bringing together European, UK and Australian pregnancy and child cohort study researchers into a new network, the EU CHILD Cohort Network. This provides a unique opportunity to combine and compare cohorts from around the world. The ambitious project combines data on over 250,000 children and their parents from Europe and Australia to provide robust scientific evidence on the early life stresses which may affect health trajectories throughout life – primarily cardiovascular, respiratory and mental health). The Raine Study is part of the LifeCycle Project. We are looking for students to join our WA team. Students should be interested in any of the 3 primary outcome areas (cardiovascular, mental health and respiratory) or have highly advanced statistical skills that could be used to explore these large data sets in novel ways (e.g. machine learning, network analyses).
  • Psychotic experiences are often present during the adolescent period.  For many, these are transient and benign, but for some they may be indicative of the development of psychotic disorder or other psychopathology.  We are looking for students to examine the early predictors of psychotic experiences and their significance in adolescence.

Top 5-10 key findings (with reference)

  • The identification of maternal factors during pregnancy that can influence offspring behavioural and emotional development, such as stress, hypertension and weight. (Robinson, M., Oddy, W. H., Li, J., Kendall, G. E., de Klerk, N. H., Silburn, S. R., Zubrick, S.R., Newnham, J.P., Stanley, F.J. & Mattes, E. (2008). Pre- and postnatal influences on preschool mental health: A large-scale cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 49(10), 1118-1128; Robinson, M., Mattes, E., Oddy, W. H., de Klerk, N. H., Li, J., McLean, N. J., Silburn, S.R., Zubrick, S.R., Stanley, F.J. & Newnham, J.P.  (2009). Hypertensive diseases of pregnancy and the development of behavioural problems in childhood and adolescence: The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. The Journal of Pediatrics, 154(2), 218-224.)
  • The identification of factors in pregnancy that impact mental health later in life (S. K. Bhat, L. J. Beilin, M. Robinson, S. Burrows and T. A. Mori. Maternal smoking and low family income during pregnancy as predictors of the relationship between depression and adiposity in young adults. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease)
  • Childhood Behviour and their association with risky behaviour in adolescence (Skinner SR, Marino J, Rosenthal SL, Cannon J, Doherty DA, Hickey M. Prospective cohortstudy of childhood behaviour problems and adolescent sexual risk-taking: gender matters. Sex Health. 2017 Nov;14(6):492-50)
  • The identification of biological risk factors associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. (Whitehouse, A. J., M. Hickey, et al. (2011). “Brief report: a preliminary study of fetal head circumference growth in autism spectrum disorder.” J Autism Dev Disord 41(1): 122-129; Whitehouse, A. J. O., M. T. Maybery, et al. (2010). “Fetal androgen exposure and pragmatic language ability of girls in middle childhood: Implications for the extreme male-brain theory of autism.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 35(8): 1259-1264.)
  • The identification of genetic variants associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (Whitehouse, A. J., D. V. M. Bishop, et al. (2011). “CNTNAP2 variants affect early language development in the general population.” Genes , Brain & Behavior)
  • Mothers deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy may be at increased risk for symptoms of postnatal depression. (Robinson, M., Whitehouse, A.J.O., Newnham, J.P., Gorman, S., Jacoby, P., Holt, B.J., Serralha, M., Tearne, J.E., Holt, P.G., Hart, P.H. & Kusel, M.M.H. (2014). Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 17(3), 213-9.)
  • Although classified as ‘term’, delivery at 37 weeks’ gestation is associated with increased risk for child behavioural problems. (Robinson, M., Whitehouse, A.J.O., Zubrick, S.R., Pennell, C.E., Jacoby, P., McLean, N.J., Oddy, W.H., Hammond, G., Stanley, F.J. & Newnham, J.P. (2013) Delivery at 37 weeks’ gestation is associated with a higher risk for child behavioural problems. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 53(2), 143-151.)
  • The children of mothers who are stressed during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from behavioural problems through childhood to adolescence. (Robinson, M., Mattes, E., Oddy, W. H., Pennell, C.E., van Eekelen, J.A.M., McLean, N. J., Jacoby, P., Li, J., de Klerk, N.H., Zubrick, S.R., Stanley, F.J. & Newnham, J.P. (2011). Prenatal stress events and behavioural development from age two to 14 years: The influence of the number, type and timing of stressful life experiences. Development and Psychopathology, 23(2), 507-520.)
  • A wide range of maternal lifestyle behaviours in pregnancy are linked to later mental health outcomes for the preschool child. (Robinson, M., Oddy, W. H., Li, J., Kendall, G. E., de Klerk, N. H., Silburn, S., Zubrick, S.R., Newnham, J.P., Stanley, F.J. & Mattes, E. (2008). Pre- and postnatal influences on preschool mental health: A large-scale cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 49(10), 1118-1128.)

List of indicative recent publications

  • Guastella, AJ., Cooper, MN., White, CRH., White, M., Pennell, CE., Whitehouse AJO.(in press).  Perinatal exposure to exogenous oxytocin does not influence child behavioural problems and autistic-like behaviours to 20 years of age.  journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
  • Bhat, SK., Beilin, LJ., Robinson, M., Burrows, S., Mori, TA., Relationships between depression and anxiety symptoms scores and blood pressure in young adults.  Journal of Hypertension, Volume 35, Number 10, October 2017, pp.  1983-1991 (9).
  • Herbison, CE., Allen, K., Robinson, M., Newnham, J., Pennell, C., The impact of life stress on adult depression and anxiety is dependent on gender and timing of exposure.  Development and psychpathology.  2017; 29, 4: 1443-1454.
  • Tearne JE, Robinson M, Jacoby P, Allen KL, Cunningham NK, Li J, McLean NJ. Older maternal age is associated with depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms in young adult female offspring. J Abnorm Psychol. 2016;125(1):1-10.
  • Grace T, Bulsara M, Robinson M, Hands B. Early Life Events and Motor Development in Childhood and Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study. Acta Paediatr. 2015
  • Herbison C, Allen K, Robinson M, Pennell C. Trajectories of stress events from early life to adolescence predict depression, anxiety and stress in young adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015;61:16-7.
  • Moore SE, Norman RE, Sly PD, Whitehouse AJ, Zubrick SR, Scott J. Adolescent peer aggression and its association with mental health and substance use in an Australian cohort. J Adolesc. 2014 Jan;37(1):11-21.
  • Robinson M, Whitehouse AJ, Newnham JP, Gorman S, Jacoby P, Holt BJ, Serralha M, Tearne JE, Holt PG, Hart PH, Kusel MM. Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms. Archives of women’s mental health. 2014;17(3):213-9.
  • Allen KL, Byrne SM, Oddy WH, Crosby RD. DSM-IV-TR and DSM-5 eating disorders in adolescents: prevalence, stability, and psychosocial correlates in a population-based sample of male and female adolescents. J Abnorm Psychol. 2013;122(3):720-32.
  • Robinson M, Whitehouse AJ, Jacoby P, Mattes E, Sawyer MG, Keelan JA, Hickey M. Umbilical cord blood testosterone and childhood internalizing and externalizing behavior: a prospective study. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59991

List of current/recent grants

  • 2017; “Early-life stressors and LifeCycle health (LIFECYCLE)”; European Commision, Horizon 2020 – Research Innovation Framework Programme; 733206; 9,9 million Euros.
  • 2015; A Whitehouse, M Maybery, D Bishop, C Franks, S Fisher, P Jacoby, JA Keelan, A Murphy; “The role of early testosterone and brain laterality in language development (the TALK study)”; ARC Discovery grant; DP160101174: $415,000, 5 years (2016-2020).

Other Data

The Raine Study has extensive data on genetics, phenotypes, behaviours, environment and social outcomes that can be linked with Psychological data.  For example, there is data on school and work social outcomes.