What makes you, you?
Our sense of self comprises various facets, including our memories for important moments in the past, knowledge of facts about ourselves, as well as our personality traits and how we relate to other people. In dementia, several of these key aspects of identity can break down, leading to changes in how individuals with these conditions perceive ‘who they are’, in addition to how others may see them.
This talk will explore how dementia syndromes offer us a unique insight into the sophisticated human cognitive, emotional and behavioural functions that comprise our sense of self, and the brain networks that underlie them. Furthermore, improving understanding of how identity changes in dementia will help inform approaches to treatment and care.
Cherie Strikwerda-Brown is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and PhD Candidate in the FRONTIER Research group at the School of Psychology and the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney. Cherie has vast clinical experience providing neuropsychological assessments for individuals with neurological and psychiatric conditions, evaluating cognition, emotion and behaviour in these patients in order to inform their management and care. She also comes from a strong research background, completing Honours and Masters research projects in cognitive testing and neuroimaging. Her PhD project combines her clinical and research interests and expertise: exploring sense of identity in different dementia syndromes. She will use novel psychological measures of self-related cognitive processes, patient and carer ratings of perceived changes in identity, and advanced neuroimaging analyses to comprehensively explore the self in dementia. In addition to its theoretical implications, her research will also help to improve patients’ clinical care and management.
Nikki-Anne Wilson is a second-year PhD candidate with the FRONTIER and MIND research groups in the School of Psychology based at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney. She completed her undergraduate psychology degree at Deakin University, followed by a Bachelor of Science - Psychology (Honours) at Macquarie University where her research focused on improving the clinical application of neuropsychological tests of visuospatial function. Nikki-Anne is passionate about science communication and an accomplished speaker, recently winning the Faculty of Science “Three Minute Thesis” competition at the University of Sydney. Her PhD research utilises innovative behavioural methods and brain imaging to provide clinical and theoretical insight into the neural underpinnings of social behaviour. She is particularly interested in how the breakdown of mental processes results in the social dysfunction associated with certain neurodegenerative disorders, specifically frontotemporal dementia.