BME Special Seminar - Claire Foldi, PhD



Weill Hall 224


We welcome Dr. Claire Foldi, who will provide a special seminar. Dr. Foldi is a Laboratory Head at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) at Monash University in Australia.

Targeting cognitive function to treat anorexia nervosa – insights into the effects of psilocybin in animal models

Abstract: Anorexia nervosa (AN) has one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder and less than 50% of patients ever recover. Despite this, there are currently no effective medicinal treatments. Psilocybin is currently being explored as a novel therapeutic for AN, and is proposed to act by “breaking down” inflexible patterns of thought and behaviour. To investigate the biological determinants of pathological weight loss, we use a well-established rodent model called activity-based anorexia (ABA), in which unlimited access to a running wheel paired with time-limited access to food precipitates voluntary hyperactivity, voluntary starvation, and rapid body weight loss. In this presentation, I will describe studies investigating the effects of psilocybin on anorectic behaviour in ABA rats and cognitive behaviour using novel open-source home-cage operant testing devices (the Feeding Experimental Device 3; FED3) across a range of tasks. I will show how these effects are mediated by signalling through specific serotonin receptor subtypes and the direct effects of psilocybin on dopamine release in response to food rewards using fiber photometry. Taken together, these findings provide initial support for the therapeutic potential of psilocybin for treating cognitive inflexibility in AN.

Bio: Dr Claire Foldi is a Laboratory Head at the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), where she leads a program of research focused on the neurobiological underpinnings of anorexia nervosa. Much of this work has centred on how cognition, behaviour and activity within specific neural circuits are involved in the development of compulsive exercise and pathological weight loss in the activity-based anorexia (ABA) rat model. The Foldi Lab is now investigating how psilocybin acts in the brain to modify behaviour in order to gain insight into its therapeutic potential for anorexia nervosa with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Dr Foldi also co-leads the Workforce Development stream of the Australian Eating Disorders Research and Translation Centre (AEDR&TC), and is an affiliate of the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies (M3CS) and the Monash Neuromedicines Discovery Centre (NDC).