Dr Amy Reichelt’s research focuses on memory, reward, motivation and behavioural control. She is particularly interested in how “junk food” diets impact on behaviour, and how neurobiological processes dictate how we react and learn about certain events.
Amy is an Australian Research Council Research Fellow and lecturer at RMIT University. Her research seeks to explore how the brain controls our behaviour and understanding the mechanisms by which our experiences in the environment can shape our responses to events.
A major focus of her research is how our modern day diets full of soft drinks and junk foods can change our brains besides just making us overweight. Our brains not only make us want to eat more of these foods, but these foods are damaging areas critical for forming memories and behavioural control.
She uses rodents to study the impact of diet on the brain, as the neuronal pathways involved in the central regulation of appetite, cognitive control and reward are similar in rodents and humans. To examine cognitive control she uses a variety of behavioural assays, including appetitive and aversive conditioning, spontaneous exploration, emotional reactivity, social interaction and touchscreen visual discriminations. This provides a battery of tasks capable of interrogating separate cognitive domains. To complement these behavioural tasks she utilise immunohistochemistry and rtPCR to determine neurobiological changes that underpin alterations in behaviour.
Amy tries to explain these neuroscience discoveries on radio, TV and print, as well as to general audiences at scientific communication events such as National Science Week.
- April 2016 – Present: Lecturer and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Australia
- January 2016 – March 2016: Visiting Professor, Biological Science, University of Toronto, Canada
- February 2014 – April 2016: Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Australia.
- February 2013 – February 2014: Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Medical Sciences, The University of New South Wales, Australia. NHMRC funded.
- July 2012 – January 2013: Visiting Research Fellow, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Australia. Wellcome Trust / Universitas 21 / EPS funded.
- April 2011 – February 2013: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK. Leverhulme Trust funded
Awards and prizes
- Young Tall Poppy Science Award (NSW) – Australian Institute of Policy and Science - 2015
- Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB) - New Investigator Award 2015
- International Society for Neurochemistry - Travel award 2015
- International Brain Research Organisation (IBRO) Travel grant – To host symposium at Winter Neurobiology of Learning and memory workshop - 2015
- Asia Pacific Society for Neurochemistry (APSN) Early Career Researcher Award
- British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) – Postdoctoral Conference Bursary – 2014
- Federation of European Neuroscience (FENS) travel award 2014 – €750
- UNSW Science Early Career Grant - Impact of sucrose bingeing in adolescent rats on brain reward system connectivity. 2015 - $7275
- Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award - Does obesity alter psychological associations to food related cues, contexts and responses? 2014-2017 - $375,000
- Major Research Equipment and Infrastructure grant 2014 - Co-Chief Investigator - $171,200
- Wellcome Trust Mobility grant – 2012 - $4000
- Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) Study visit grant – 2012 - $2000
- Universitas 21 Special Projects grant – 2012 - $2000
- 2006 - University of Birmingham, UK. BSc. 1st Class (Honours) Psychology.
- 2011 - Cardiff University, UK. PhD - Behavioural Neuroscience. Neurobiological mechanisms of conflict resolution and goal-directed behaviour. Supervisors: Professors Simon Killcross and Mark Good. BBSRC Case funded in association with Eli Lilly.
Member of professional associations
- Society for Neuroscience
- Australian Neuroscience Society
- International Society for Neurochemistry
- Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior
- Asia Pacific Society for Neurochemistry
Assessor for scientific journals
- Behavioural Brain Research
- Brain Research
- Metabolic Brain Disease
- Journal of Neurochemistry
- Journal of Psychopharmacology
- Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
- Does obesity alter the associations to food related cues, contexts and responses?. Funded by: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) 2014 from (2014 to 2016)
- Reichelt, A.,Morris, M.,Westbrook, R. (2016). Daily access to sucrose impairs aspects of spatial memory tasks reliant on pattern separation and neural proliferation in rats In: Learning and Memory, 23, 386 - 390
- Labouesse, M.,Lassalle, O.,Richetto, J.,Iafrati, J.,Weber-Stadlbauer, U.,Notter, T.,Gschwind, T.,Pujadas, L.,Soriano, E.,Reichelt, A.,Labouesse, C.,Langhans, W.,Chavis, P.,Meyer, U. (2016). (In Press) Hypervulnerability of the adolescent prefrontal cortex to nutritional stress via reelin deficiency In: Molecular Psychiatry, , 1 - 12
- Reichelt, A.,Abbott, K.,Westbrook, R.,Morris, M. (2016). Differential motivational profiles following adolescent sucrose access in male and female rats In: Physiology and Behavior, 157, 13 - 19
- Abbott, K.,Morris, M.,Westbrook, R.,Reichelt, A. (2015). Sex-specific effects of daily exposure to sucrose on spatial memory performance in male and female rats, and implications for estrous cycle stage In: Physiology and Behavior, 162, 52 - 60
- Morris, M.,Beilharz, J.,Maniama, J.,Reichelt, A.,Westbrook, R. (2015). Why is obesity such a problem in the 21st century? The intersection of palatable food, cues and reward pathways, stress, and cognition In: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 58, 36 - 45
- Reichelt, A.,Killcross, S.,Hambly, L.,Morris, M.,Westbrook, R. (2015). Impact of adolescent sucrose access on cognitive control, recognition memory, and parvalbumin immunoreactivity In: Learning and Memory, 22, 215 - 224
- Reichelt, A.,Maniama, J.,Westbrook, R.,Morris, M. (2015). Dietary-induced obesity disrupts trace fear conditioning and decreases hippocampal reelin expression In: Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 43, 68 - 75
- Reichelt, A.,Westbrook, R.,Morris, M. (2015). Integration of reward signalling and appetite regulating peptide systems in the control of food-cue responses In: British Journal of Pharmacology, 172, 5225 - 5238
- Exton-McGuinness, M.,Lee, J.,Reichelt, A. (2015). Updating memories-the role of prediction errors in memory reconsolidation In: Behavioural Brain Research, 278, 375 - 384
- Reichelt, A.,Dachtler, J. (2015). The role of neurexins and neuroligins in autism In: The Molecular Basis of Autism, Springer, United States