Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine

Scientia Professor  Bernard Balleine

Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine

Scientia Professor

BA (Hons), PhD
Professor, Sydney Medical School
Director, Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory, Brain & Mind Research Institute (BMRI)
Australian Laureate Fellow
NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow

Contact details

Email: Scientia Professor Bernard Balleine

Office: Mathews Level 4

Research Summary

Research Areas: As Head of the Decision Neuroscience Laboratory in the School of Psychology at UNSW, my research focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal psychological functioning.

Internationally recognised as a research leader in the field of ‘the neural bases of decision-making’ and instrumental in developing this field. Decision-making is the ability of humans and other animals to choose between competing courses of action based on the relative value of the actions’ consequences. Underlying the act of decision-making are functional processes in the brain in regards to how we choose or deliberate between actions, i.e. motor control that is associated with planning. I am interested in these processes that underpin how a person thinks through strategies or plans and then integrates values or motivations to make decisions. So we are studying how cognition and emotion work together in the process of decision-making.

Importantly, decision-making ability is often impaired in persons with neurodegenerative (e.g. dementia) or psychiatric disorders (e.g. schizophrenia; bipolar disease; depression), which in turn has an effect on the ability to control voluntary action. Therefore, understanding the functioning of brain circuitry in normal and disordered states is vital to facilitating early diagnosis and effective treatment of these disorders.

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

Professor Balleine is past Director of Research in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA (2005-2009), past Leader of the Sydney Neuroscience Network at the University of Sydney (2012-2015) and Visiting Professor at California Institute of Technology (Caltech 2013-2015). He was made a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in 2004, to a Laureate Fellow of the Australian Research Council in 2009 and a Senior Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia in 2015.

Recent Grants


  • Balleine B, Meikle S, Fulton R (2016). PET imaging of learning-related plasticity in awake behaving ratsAustralian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).


  • Ramos F, Harris A, Grieve S, Korgaonkar M, Chawla S, Naismith S, Bleasel A, Balleine B (2015) Statistical Multimodal Fusion of Brain DTI and EEG Data. DVC Research/HMR+ Implementation Fund - University.
  • Valenzuela M, Balleine B, Ramos F, Brodaty H (2015). In-home Spatial Tracking: Moving Behavioural Neuroscience into the Home; DVC Research/HMR+ Implementation Fund - University.
  • Balleine B, Chieng B, Christie M (2015). Disorders of action control and learning-related plasticity in the basal ganglia;National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
  • Balleine B, Chieng B (2015) Dysfunctions in decision-making and the cognitive control of action;National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
  • Balleine B, Bradfield L (2015). Dementia related deficits in striatal cholinergic function and decision-making; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Project Grants.
  • Balleine B (2015). The Neural Bases of Decision-Making;Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).