Dr Izelle Labuschagne - Nat Sch Psychology (Faculty of Health Sciences)

Fully accredited supervisor - Can supervise as principal supervisor


I am a clinical neuroscientist and a Research Fellow in the Cognition and Emotion Research Centre within the School of Psychology at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. In addition to training as a neuroscientist, I also obtained accredited training in Psychology during my undergraduate studies at Monash University and at Swinburne University of Technology.

Within our Centre, I lead a major program of research on social cognitive neurosciences. This involves directing a group of researchers and students on research involving oxytocin and human participants in studies involving healthy ageing as well as clinical groups (e.g., social anxiety disorder).

My research examines the social cognitive and emotional processes in humans, and in particular, how psychiatric illnesses and ageing affect these processes. I also examine how, when and why the healthy ageing brain, show declines in core social cognitive functions. My research incorporates a variety of brain imaging techniques (such as fMRI, DTI, EEG, EMG, tDCS, and fNIRS), cognitive assessments, and neuropsychopharmacological manipulations. I have conducted randomised and double-blind placebo-controlled trials in humans investigating the effects of antidepressants such as SSRIs, serotonergic precursors such as tryptophan, and more recently, neuropeptides such as oxytocin. My research uses both healthy as well as clinical samples including social anxiety disorder, Huntington's disease and body image disorders. Using a variety of research methods, I strive to understand the neurobiological mechanisms implicated in dysfunctional social cognitive and emotional processes in humans, with an aim to improve quality of life and develop more refined and targeted treatment options for mental health disorders.


Phone :03 9953 3816 (Melbourne)
Email :izelle.labuschagne@acu.edu.au
URIs : Staff Directory Profile

Research Interests

Social Cognitive Neuroscience ; Emotion ; Ageing ; Oxytocin ; Anxiety ; Social Phobia ; Cognition ;

Methods Expertise

neuroimaging ; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) ; Facial Electromyography (EMG) ; transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) ; Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) ; Randomised controlled clinical trials ;

Research Projects

Seeking Applications

  • Is oxytocin implicated in the ageing brain? (PhD) (Principal Supervisor)
  • A neuro-genetic study of oxytocin and individual differences in social anxiety disorder. (PhD) (Principal Supervisor)

Current Projects

  • Threat reactivity in daily life in patients with social anxiety disorder (PhD) (Co-Supervisor)
  • Examining the effects of intranasal oxytocin in patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (PhD) (Principal Supervisor)

Selected Publications


Oxytocin selectively modulates brain processing of disgust in Huntington's disease gene carriers, in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 81, 11-16.

Intranasal oxytocin reduces heart rate variability during a mental arithmetic task: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study, in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 81, 408-415.


Abnormal Visual Scanning of Emotionally-evocative Natural Scenes in Huntington's Disease, in Frontiers in Psychology 8, 405

Beyond Emotion Recognition Deficits: A Theory Guided Analysis of Emotion Processing in Huntington's Disease, in Neurosc & Biobehav Reviews, 73, 276-292.

Sex-specific effects of intranasal oxytocin on thermal pain perception: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study. , in Psychoneuroendocrinology, 83, 101-110.


Improving research standards to restore trust in intranasal oxytocin, in Biological psychiatry 79 (8), e53-e54

Beyond Emotion Recognition Deficits: A Theory Guided Analysis of Emotion Processing in Huntington's Disease, in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews

Decision-making ability in current and past users of opiates: A meta-analysis, in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 71, 342-351

The wisdom to know the difference: strategy-situation fit in emotion regulation in daily life is associated with well-being, in Psychological science 27 (12), 1651-1659


Differential effects of social stress on laboratory-based decision-making are related to both impulsive personality traits and gender, in Cognition and Emotion 29 (8), 1475-1485

The impact of occipital lobe cortical thickness on cognitive task performance: An investigation in Huntington's Disease, in Neuropsychologia 79, 138-146

Oxytocin Modulates Amygdala Functional Connectivity during Social Threat in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder, in Neuropsychopharmacology

Effects of oxytocin and genetic variants on brain and behaviour: implications for treatment in schizophrenia, in Schizophrenia Research 168 (3), 614-627

Safety, tolerability, and efficacy of PBT2 in Huntington's disease, in The Lancet Neurology 14 (1), 39-47


The potential of composite cognitive scores for tracking progression in Huntington's disease., in Journal of Huntington's Disease, 3, 197-207.

The cognitive burden in Huntington's disease: pathology, phenotype and mechanisms of compensation, in Movement Disorders, 29, 673-683.

Modulation of Resting-State Amygdala-Frontal Functional Connectivity by Oxytocin in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder, in Neuropsychopharmacology, 39, 2061-2069

Using theories of delusion formation to explain abnormal beliefs in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), in Psychiatry Research, 215, 599-605


Oxytocin enhances resting state connectivity between amygdala and medial frontal cortex, in International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 16(2), 255-260.

A comparison of executive function in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), in Journal of Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders, 2(3), 257-262.

Emotional face recognition deficits and medication effects in pre-manifest through stage-II Huntington's disease, in Psychiatry Research, 207(1-2), 118-126.


Medial frontal hyperactivity to sad faces in generalized social anxiety disorder and modulation by oxytocin, in International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 15(7), 883-896.

Visual working memory impairment in premanifest gene carriers and early Huntington's disease, in Journal of Huntingtona??s disease, 1(1), 97-106.

Evaluation of longitudinal 12- and 24-month cognitive outcomes in premanifest and early Huntington's disease, in Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 83(7), 687-694.


What the cognitive deficits in body dysmorphic disorder tell us about the underlying neurobiology: an investigation of three cases, in International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 4(1), 21-33.


An examination of delusional thinking and cognitive styles in body dysmorphic disorder, in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 44, 706-712.

Augmenting serotonin neurotransmission with citalopram modulates emotional expression decoding but not structural encoding of moderate intensity sad facial emotional stimuli: an event related potential (ERP) investigation, in Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24(8), 1153-1164.

Oxytocin attenuates amygdala reactivity to fear in generalised social anxiety disorder, in Neuropsychopharmacology 35, 2403-2413.

Executive function in body dysmorphic disorder, in Psychological Medicine, 40, 1541-1548.


Evidence for modulation of facial emotional processing bias during emotional expression decoding by serotonergic and noradrenergic antidepressants: an event-related potential (ERP) study, in Psychopharmacology(Berl), 202(4), 621-634.