A dedicated Dash to mental health | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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A dedicated Dash to mental health

As a young person who studied psychology straight out of high school, Dash Sacks understands how important mental health is for youths.

In fact, he’s so dedicated to youth mental health that he’s completing a PhD (doctorate degree) in the field.

Dash is investigating the brain’s signals – the instructions sent to your body by millions of neurons – and the brain’s white matter – a fatty part of the brain that supports the transmission of those signals through electrical activity.

Dash is looking at how signals synchronise – that is, work together – in different parts of the brain. Specifically, he is investigating how that synchronisation is related to the structure of the white matter in the same parts of the brain.

Dash’s main aim is to determine how this relationship – between signal synchronisation and white matter – can be an indicator of mental health.

Dash is using data from LABS participants’ MRI and EEG scans – so each time you climb into our super-cool MRI machine or don our alien-like EEG cap, you’re helping Dash’s important research.

He uses the MRI scans – which capture brain structure – to examine white matter, and the EEG scans – which capture brain function – to examine brain signals.

“Combining these two technologies allows us to understand how structure and function are related to form a deeper understanding of the brain and mental health,” Dash said.

“This is important because understanding the biology that underpins youth mental health is crucial to developing new methods of early identification and treatment”.

Dash says what he loves about working in LABS is the “fantastic LABS team – which includes all of our participants”.

He also relishes “the opportunity to contribute to research that will lead to better mental health outcomes for adolescents in the future”.

Dash is a recipient of the prestigious Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship and expects to complete his PhD study in 2022.

Dashiell Sacks

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