Centre for Human Psychopharmacology

Natural substances

Explore our studies investigating the cognitive, behavioural and mood-altering effects of natural substances. 

Bacopa for inattention and hyperactivity in boys

This study is investigating the effects of the herbal extract of bacopa monnieri, sold in Australia as KeenMind®. We are hopeful that the extract will reduce hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity while aiding concentration, memory and cognitive performance in male children and adolescents with symptoms of ADHD.

During a 14–week trial, participants completed a basic IQ test, computerised cognitive tasks and mood assessments.

‚ÄčThe study was ethically approved by the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital Research Ethics Committee. The trial has been registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

To learn more about this study see the media release, Can a natural supplement improve hyperactivity in boys?


James Kean
e: jkean@swinburne.edu.au

Can a spearmint extract improve your memory?

This study aims to test the effect of supplementation with a proprietary spearmint extract on cognitive performance, sleep and mood in healthy individuals.

Research suggests that consumption of plants within the Lamiaceae (mint) family, including lemon balm, lavender, sage and rosemary, promote cognitive function in healthy people. Particular compounds found in spearmint have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Previous trials with a spearmint extract have shown improvements in reasoning, attention, planning, memory and sleep.

We tested participants aged 50–70 in good general health. The group were given two capsules a day in the morning with breakfast for three months. Participants provided blood samples and completed cognitive testing and cardiovascular measurement.


MINT team
e: mint@swinburne.edu.au

Combining two nutraceutical formulas

This study investigated the effects of two different nutraceutical combination formulas on mental fatigue, mood and cognitive function.

Participants attended four testing sessions over four weeks where they completed a series of cognitive and mood tests.

The trial is now complete.


Laura Masseet
t: +61 3 9214 3793
e: lmassee@swinburne.edu.au

Executive B and stress

Improving objective and subjective measures of workplace stress in a healthy adult population

This study aimed to investigate the effects of Blackmore's Executive B Stress Formula on workplace stress, mood and cognition.

Participants took Blackmore's Executive B Stress Formula or a placebo for six months. Participants attended two testing sessions to provide blood samples, completed cognitive testing and a series of health and mood questionnaires. Some participants were also invited to undergo brain imaging.

This trial is now complete.


Luke Downey
t: +61 3 9214 5871
e: ldowney@swinburne.edu.au

Fish oils and brain function

This study investigated the effects of fish oils on cognition and brain functioning, mood and cardiovascular function in middle-aged and older Australians.

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal neural functioning. The human body can only produce minimal quantities of these fatty acids, so they must be incorporated into our diet. The Western diet contains very little omega-3s, which may contribute to accelerated brain ageing.

This study examined the interaction between omega-3 level sin the blood and cognitive performance and mood.

It also investigated fish oil supplementation in cohorts to assess the potential benefits associated with increasing omega-3 levels in our diet. Mechanisms of action were assessed by measuring a number of cardiovascular and biochemical indices.

This trial is now complete.


Dr Andrew Pipingas
t: +61 3 9214 5215
e: apipingas@swinburne.edu.au

Kava for Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Kava is native to the South Pacific, where the rootstock been used in traditional medicine in the form of cold-water extraction to treat a range of health conditions, including anxiety, stress, muscular spasms, pain and menstrual disorders.

The most recent investigation, Kava for Generalised Anxiety Disorder (KGAD), has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. This study was an 18-week randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-site clinical trial, testing the effect of a standardised pharmaceutical-grade kava extract daily versus placebo in 210 adults with diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

The study collected structural, functional and metabolic imaging data as well as single nucleotide polymorphisms and gene expression to gauge responders and response rates, as well as data to elucidate biomarkers for Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Data collection for this investigation is now complete.


Karen Savage
t: +61 3 9214 8267
e: kavastudy@swinburne.edu.au

Longvida curcumin and health in older adults

Tumeric has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. Curcumin, the compound in turmeric that gives it its bright yellow colour, is thought to be the source of these health benefits.

In recent years, curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and many other valuable properties. It has been suggested that curcumin may enhance mood and mental function, yet further research is needed to investigate these potential benefits.

This study aimed to explore the effects of a curcumin supplementation on mental function, mood and health in older adults.

Participants were aged 60–85 and some had experienced age related decline in their memory or mental function. A daily supplementation was given over four weeks and participants were tested on a range of cognitive tasks as well as mood and general health.

In a subset of participants, a second stage of this study investigated the effects of curcumin supplementation on brain activity using state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques.

This trial is now complete.


Kate Cox
t: +61 3 9214 8168
e: kcox@swinburne.edu.au

Multivitamin and mineral preparations and brain activity

Studies from our centre and elsewhere have shown that multivitamin supplementation can improve mood and other aspects of cognitive performance. Professor Scholey's previous research showed how a multivitamin-mineral-guaraná combination improved performance during intense cognitive processing.

During this trial, Professor Scholey further explored the effects of acute supplementation with multivitamins, with and without guaraná, using a placebo control. Steady State Tomography and fMRI brain imaging was used to assess cognitive energy in healthy volunteers. The findings will provide further insight into the link between multivitamins and cognition.

This trial is now complete.


Andrew Scholey
t: +61 3 9214 8932
e: ascholey@swinburne.edu.au

Multivitamin supplementation, neurocognition and mood

This study aimed to investigate the effects of multivitamin supplementation on cognition and brain functioning, mood and stress in middle aged and older Australians.

Several recent studies have shown that supplementing with multinutrients may be beneficial for wellbeing, cognition and mood. However, more research is needed to assess the efficacy of multivitamins and their mechanisms of action.

This study trialed the efficacy, safety and mechanisms of action of multivitamin supplementation. Participants aged 20-50, over 50 and older individuals with subjective memory impairments were tested using cognitive, neuroimaging, biochemical, mood, general wellbeing and cardiovascular functioning measures.

This trial is now complete.


Andrew Pipingas
t: +61 3 9214 5215
e: apipingas@swinburne.edu.au

Multivitamins and cognitive function

Vitamins and minerals influence a range of processes in the human body, which are essential for good health, physical strength and mental performance.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a four–week multivitamin supplementation and mineral preparation on brain activity and health. Results were measured by cognitive function, mood and nutritional status.

Participants attended three separate sessions where they completed a series of cognitive and mood tests and gave blood samples. A smaller group of participants were invited to take part in an optional brain imaging component (MRI).

This trial is now complete.


BABE3 Trial Team
e: Babe3@swinburne.edu.au

Omega-3s, hyperactivity and inattention

This study aimed to explore at the relationship between marine oil and adolescent behaviour and attention.

Neuroimaging techniques were used to track changes in neural activity. Parent-reported analysis was also used to assess changes in behavior.

A number of studies have analysed omega-3s and their interaction with the adolescent brain with mixed results. This is the first study of its kind looking at a completely unique marine oil (the New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel), its influence on neurological functioning and the possible benefits for child and adolescent behaviour, attention and neural networking.

This trial is now complete.


James Kean
t: +61 3 9214 5242
e: jkean@swinburne.edu.au

Phospholipid intervention for cognitive ageing reversal

One of the most prominent and debilitating consequences of human ageing is the cognitive decline that impacts learning and memory. There is an increased awareness of the possibility that dietary modification can alter the course of age-related cognitive decline.

Previous research suggests that a class of lipids derived from milk called phospholipids, which include phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, may benefit brain health, particularly during ageing.

This study aimed to identify whether a daily intake of phospholipids could be effective in improving cognition in older individuals who are experiencing memory difficulties.

Participants aged 55 and over with good general health took the supplement daily for six months. During several test sessions, researchers assessed participants' brain function, biomarkers associated with oxidated stress and inflammation, and cardiovascular health.

This trial is now complete.


e: plicar@swinburne.edu.au

Theanine, stress and brain activity

L-theanine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in green tea. It is also present in other tea varieties. Previous studies have shown that L-theanine promotes relaxation and reduces stress and anxiety. This study aimed to determine the effects of L-theanine on stress, mood and cognitive function.

For this trial we used a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. We measured the effects of a single dose of L-theanine versus a placebo drink on cognitive and mood tests, along with salivary cortisol.

The study also used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to track changes in brain activity associated with L-theanine, both at rest and during the completion of a cued-attention task.

This trial is now complete.


David White
t: +61 3 9214 5341
e: dawhite@swinburne.edu.au

Probiotics and mental fatigue – The FOCUS Study

Researchers at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology are looking for people who would like to take part in a study investigating the effects of a probiotic formulation on memory, cognitive function and mood. The study is a one-month trial involving three in-person visits to Swinburne's Hawthorn campus.

You may be eligible to participate if you*:

  • are aged between 18 - 50 years
  • are in good general health
  • have not been diagnosed with dementia or depression/anxiety/other psychiatric disorders
  • are fluent in written and spoken English
  • are a non-smoker
  • have no gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. Coeliac, IBS)

*Please note there are additional eligiblity criteria to participate in this study.

What does participation involve?
Participation in the study will involve attending the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne in Hawthorn on three separate occasions over a one-month period, and taking a probiotic formulation (or placebo) daily during this period. All testing sessions will take approximately 2-3 hours (you will be provided with a light meal at each visit).

You will be reimbursed for completing this study to cover your time and travel expenses.

If you are interested in participating, please enter your details below with your preferred telephone number, and one of the team will give you a call to discuss further.


The FOCUS team
e: FOCUS_study_chp@swin.edu.au
t: +61 3 9214 5745

Herbal extract and cognitive training to improve brain function

We are looking for people who would like to take part in a three month trial investigating the effects of a natural supplement combined with regular brain training activities on memory, cognitive performance and brain function.

To be eligible to participate you need to be:

  • aged 55 years and above
  • in good health generally
  • able to attend three testing sessions at Swinburne's Hawthorn campus
  • comfortable using brain imaging equipment (MRI).
  • Note: this trial has finished recruitment and study findings will be available soon.


Grace McPhee
e: gmcphee@swinburne.edu.au

Memory and Brain Imaging Study

Researchers at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology are investigating hippocampal structure and function in cognitive aging and are searching for healthy participants with no memory concerns. Eligible participants will be asked to attend two study sessions and undergo a MEG and MRI scan.

You may be eligible if:

* You are aged over 55 years

* You are NOT experiencing problems with your memory

* Have not been diagnosed with dementia

* You are in good general health

* You are willing to provide blood, faecal and urine samples throughout the study

All study-related visits and tests will be provided to you at no cost and you will be compensated ($40 per session) for your time.

Note: this trial has finished recruitment and study findings will be available soon.


The CANN team
e: cann@swin.edu.au
Rebecca King 
p: 03 9214 5861

The effects of silkworm cocoon extract Cera-Q on cognitive function

Bioactive peptides such as those in silkworm cocoon have many different properties including anti-oxidant, cholesterol lowering, and cardiovascular effects, and may therefore support brain and cognitive function. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of 3 weeks of supplementation with a silk fibroin protein extract (Cera-Q) on memory, cognitive function and mood. 

60 healthy participants aged 18-70 to took part in this study.

Recruitment for this trial is now complete.


The Cera-Q team
e: Cera-q@swin.edu.au
Rebecca King 
p: 03 9214 5861