Dr Kathryn Baker

Dr Kathryn Baker

Dr Kathryn Baker

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher

PhD, 2011, Monash University

BBehavNeuroSc (Hons), 2005, Monash University

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9385 0552
Email: Dr Kathryn Baker
Fax: (02) 9385 3641

Office: Mathews, Room 508

Research Summary

Learning and memory, fear, extinction, adolescence, d-cycloserine, retrieval-extinction, calcium.

My research examines how fear is inhibited in the adolescent brain. Adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability to anxiety disorders and the brain undergoes substantial maturation during adolescence, particularly in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a region critical for inhibiting fear in adults. I am interested in how adolescents may be less efficient in utilising prefrontal regions to inhibit fear.

One stream of my research is funded by an NHMRC Project Grant (2015-2017) in collaboration with Professor Rick Richardson from UNSW. This project investigates 1) whether developmental differences in the neural mechanisms responsible for fear regulation mediate the impaired fear inhibition typically seen in adolescence, and 2) behavioural and pharmacological treatments that enhance fear reduction at this age. The developmental approach examining adolescent brain maturation is original as most preclinical research examining fear uses adult animals. This preclinical research has the goal of adding new knowledge about novel approaches for early interventions for adolescent anxiety. 

Another stream of my research is funded by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA). This project seeks to test for the first time whether an imbalance in the adolescent brain causes impaired fear regulation. The project aims to identify impairments in specific neural circuits of fear regulation by selectively manipulating their activity and studying the impact on fear inhibition in adolescent rats. The outcomes will lead to a more complete neurobiological theory of fear regulation in adolescence, which may ultimately help optimise treatments for anxious youth.


Teaching

2016 - 2019

PSYC3241 - Psychobiology of Memory and Motivation

2015

PSYC2081 - Learning and Physiological Psychology

ECH216 - Infancy and Early Development (Macquarie University)

Publications

Stylianakis A.A., Richardson R, & Baker K.D. Timing is everything: Developmental differences in the effect of a chronic stressor on extinction retention. Behavioral Neuroscience. accepted 30/04/19. 

Zimmermann, K., Richardson, R., & Baker, K. (2019). Maturational Changes in Prefrontal and Amygdala Circuits in Adolescence: Implications for Understanding Fear Inhibition during a Vulnerable Period of Development. Brain Sciences, 9.

King, G., Baker, K. D., Bisby, M. A., Chan, D., Cowan, C. S. M., Stylianakis, A. A., Zimmermann, K. S., & Richardson, R. (2019). A precision medicine approach to pharmacological adjuncts to extinction: a call to broaden research. Psychopharmacology, 236, 143-161.

Baker, K.D., McNally, G.P., & Richardson, R. (2018). D-Cycloserine facilitates fear extinction in adolescent rats and differentially affects medial and lateral prefrontal cortex activation. Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 86, 262-269. 

Stylianakis, A. A., Harmon-Jones, S. K., Richardson, R., & Baker, K.D. (2018). Differences in the persistence of spatial memory deficits induced by a chronic stressor in adolescents compared to juveniles. Developmental Psychobiology, 60, 805-813.

Bisby, M.A., Baker, K. D., Richardson, R. (2018). Elucidating the mechanisms of fear extinction in developing animals: a special case of NMDA receptor-independent extinction in adolescent rats. Learning & Memory, 25, 158-164.

Baker, K. D., Loughman, A., Spencer, S. J., & Reichelt, A. C. (2017). The impact of obesity and hypercaloric diet consumption on anxiety and emotional behavior across the lifespan. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 173-182.

Baker, K.D., Gray, A.R., & Richardson, R. (2017). The development of perineuronal nets around parvalbumin GABAergic neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala in rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 131, 289-303.

Baker, K. D., & Richardson, R. (2017). Pharmacological evidence that a failure to recruit NMDA receptors contributes to impaired fear extinction retention in adolescent rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 143, 18-26. 

Baker, K. D., & Reichelt, A. C. (2016). Impaired fear extinction retention and increased anxiety-like behaviours induced by limited daily access to a high-fat/high-sugar diet in male rats: Implications for diet-induced prefrontal cortex dysregulation. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 136, 127-138. 

Baker, K.D., Bisby, M.A. & Richardson, R (2016). Impaired fear extinction in adolescent rodents: Behavioural and neural analyses. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 59-73.

Baker, K.D. & Richardson, R (2015). Forming competing fear learning and extinction memories in adolescence makes fear difficult to inhibit. Learning & Memory, 22, 537-543.

Ogeil, R.P., & Baker, K.D. (2015). The interaction of REM sleep with safety learning in humans: Could a good night's sleep alter a traumatic experience? Journal of Neuroscience, 35, 1337-1339.

Chan, D., Baker, K.D., & Richardson, R. (2015). Relearning a context-shock association after forgetting is an NMDAr-independent process. Physiology & Behavior, 148, 29-35.

Baker, K.D., Den, M.L., Graham, B. M., & Richardson, R. (2014). A window of vulnerability: Impaired fear extinction in adolescence. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 113, 90-100.

Baker, K.D., McNally, G.P., & Richardson, R. (2013). Memory retrieval before or after extinction reduces recovery of fear in adolescent rats. Learning & Memory, 20, 467-473.

Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M., & Rickard, N.S. (2013). The role of intracellular calcium stores in synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37, 1211-1239.

Baker, K.D., McNally, G.P., & Richardson, R. (2012). d-cycloserine does not facilitate fear extinction by reducing conditioned stimulus processing or promoting conditioned inhibition to contextual cues. Learning & Memory, 19, 461-469.

Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M., & Rickard, N.S. (2011). Pharmacobehavioural evidence for nitric oxide and noradrenaline interactions with ryanodine receptors during memory formation in the young chick. Behavioral Neuroscience, 125, 175-183.

Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M., & Rickard, N.S. (2011). Blocking SK channels impairs long-term memory formation in young chicks. Behavioural Brain Research, 216, 458-462.

Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M., & Rickard, N.S. (2010). A ryanodine receptor agonist promotes the consolidation of long-term memory in young chicks. Behavioural Brain Research, 206, 143-146.

Baker, K.D., Edwards, T.M., & Rickard, N.S. (2008). Inhibition of mGluR1 and IP3Rs impairs long-term memory formation in young chicks. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 90(1), 269-274.

Baker, K.D., & Edwards, T.M (2007). D-Lactate inhibition of memory in a single trial discrimination avoidance task in the day-old chick. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 88, 269-276.

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

Fellowships and Grants:

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA; 2017 - 2019). Impaired fear inhibition in adolescence: an imbalance in the brain? – Baker

National Health and Medical Research Council Project grant (2015-2017). A window of vulnerability: Impaired fear inhibition in adolescent rats – Richardson & Baker.

The University of New South Wales Faculty of Science Research Grant (2014). Neural mechanisms of impaired fear inhibition in adolescence – Baker. 

National Health and Medical Research Council Peter Doherty Early Career Fellowship (2013- 2016). How is fear inhibited in the adolescent brain? – Baker. 

Awards:

2017:  Early Career Investigator - International Travel Fellowship Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry US$2000

2016:  Kucharski Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Developmental Psychobiology

2016:  International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), Wiley, the Sackler Institute, the Nurture Science Project at Columbia University, and ISDP US$1200

2014:   International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), the Sackler Institute, and the ISDP (US$800)

2014:   FENS-IBRO FENS Forum Travel Grant (Euro $750)

2014:   European FENS-SfN Summer School 2014 “Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Disorders”

2013:   Amygdala in Health & Disease (Gordon Research Seminar) Travel Award (US$504)

2012:   International Society of Developmental Psychobiology Travel Award provided by the NIH (NICHD), the Sackler Institute, and the ISDP (US$750)

2011:   Australian Neuroscience Society Student Travel Award

2006 – 2009:   Australian Postgraduate Award, Monash University

2009:   Undergraduate Psychology Teaching Award (PSY1011)

2009:   Australian Neuroscience Society Student Travel Award

2007:   Australian Neuroscience Society Student Poster Prize at IBRO2007

2003 – Current:   Membership of Golden Key National Honor Society for academic excellence

Affiliations & Memberships

Society for Neuroscience, International Society of Developmental Psychobiology, Biological Psychiatry Australia

Current Research Students

Madelyne Bisby

The role of the endocannabinoid system in fear extinction in adolescent rats
UNSW PhD/M. Psych (Clinical) student (joint supervision with Prof Rick Richardson)
 

Anthea Stylianakis 

The effect of chronic stress on adolescent human and non-human behaviour, brain function, and genetic regulation
UNSW PhD/M. Psych (Clinical) student (co-supervision)
 
Current Psychology Honours students

Samuel Ma
The effect of D-cycloserine on Pavlovian fear extinction retention and relapse in adolescent rats with chronic fluoxetine exposure
 
Elizabeth Virakorn
The effect of chronic corticosterone exposure on perineuronal net expression and extinction retention in adolescent rats
 

Past Psychology Honours students

 August Gable 

The effect of the estrous cycle on fear extinction retention and renewal in female adolescent rats

Aqsa Shahid

Feast without fear? The efficacy of tyrosine receptor kinase B (TrkB)-targeted pharmacotherapy in reducing fear in adolescent rats consuming a high-fat high-sugar diet

Verity Harris

The efficacy of D-cycloserine in reducing fear relapse in adolescent rats consuming a high-fat and high-sugar diet or standard diet

Bhiravi Thambi

Can the expression of juvenile fear memories be updated during adolescence? The effect of US re-exposure versus novel CS2-US pairings on extinction retention

 Anthea Stylianakis

Timing is everything: Developmental differences in the effect of stress on extinction retention in adolescence.

 Matthew Williams-Spooner

The effect of short exposures to high fat/high sugar diets during adolescence on retention of fear extinction. 

 

Other Information

Leadership and Outreach

2019 - UNSW Women in Maths and Science Champions Program Early Career Scientist 

August 2018 - “Speed Meet a Scientist” public event, Sydney Science Festival, Powerhouse Museum

2018 - NHMRC Grant Panel member

2016 & 2017 - Brain Awareness Week, Rainbow St Primary School class demonstration

Chair of Biological Psychiatry Australia 2015 meeting symposium (September, 2015) “Fear and the developing brain across species: Insights into early-life vulnerabilities for anxiety”


Personal Links

Open access repository of conference presentation

Baker, K.D.*, & Richardson, R. (2015, May). Impaired fear extinction retention in adolescence: Age at fear learning or age at extinction? Society of Biological Psychiatry 70th Annual Scientific Meeting, Toronto, Canada. http://f1000.com/posters/browse/summary/1098085