Amy Reichelt

Dr Amy Reichelt

Senior Lecturer

School of Biomedicine

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Amy Reichelt is an emerging independent research leader at the intersection of neuroscience and nutrition, who is passionate about uncovering the neural mechanisms that underpin how diet impacts brain health and mental wellbeing across the lifespan, with a particular focus on the adolescent brain.

After completing her PhD in Neuroscience at Cardiff University UK, which investigated the cognitive impact of dementia neuropathologies on executive function using transgenic models of frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer's disease, Amy went on to undertake postdoctoral research in how food memories can be updated in the brain, through the process of memory reconsolidation. This research led her to become intrigued by how diet itself impacts behaviour and cognition. Amy secured a prestigious ARC DECRA fellowship at UNSW Sydney where she led a program of research dedicated to understanding how obesogenic high fat and high sugar diets disrupted the refinement of the adolescent brain and altered fundamental learning and memory processes. This work was extended during her lectureship at RMIT University, pinpointing adolescence as a period of vulnerability to the negative consequences of obesogenic diets, and further funding in the form of an ARC Discovery Project to investigate the neuronal populations implicated in diet-induced cognitive decline, and the transgenerational impacts of obesity.

In 2018, Amy relocated to Western University, Canada as a Canada First Research Excellence Fund "BrainsCAN" Senior Fellow, where she worked with global leaders in developing highly translational cognitive tests for rodents which can be combined with cutting-edge neurotechnologies (i.e. Fiber-photometry and optogenetics). Furthermore, she extended her research into the neurobiological impact of diet to its effects on non-neuronal factors - primarily the brain's extracellular matrix - as a critical controller of both neuroplasticity and neuroprotection.

Amy has recently returned back to Australia as a Senior Lecturer and Research Group Leader within Adelaide Medical School, with funding from an NHMRC Investigator Grant and the Neurosurgical Research Foundation. Here she will lead research into the fundamental role of the extracellular matrix in obesity-induced cognitive decline, neurodegenerative diseases, neurodevelopmental processes and neurotrauma.

In recognition of her research excellence and commitment to the clear communication of science to the public, Amy has received an NSW Tall Poppy Award and RMIT Media Star award. She has written over 25 articles for The Conversation and has been interviewed in the media as a neuroscience expert by The New York Times, ABC radio, CBC radio, The Project, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, and SBS radio to name but a few. She has been featured on the ABC RN podcasts "All in the mind" and "Brain Matters". Her most career-defining moment to date was the presentation of a talk "This is your brain on sugar" at TEDxSydney.

Research overview

My primary research goal is to define the cognitive and functional impacts of obesity and nutrition on the brain. This research program has immediate relevance to a growing public health issue in Australia (and worldwide), where nearly a third of all children, and two-thirds of all adults, are overweight or obese.

I use a multidimensional approach involving cutting-edge behavioural and neuropharmacology paradigms – including transgenic mice (Cre-lox, KI and KO models), in vivo fiber-photometry (e.g. GCaMP signaling and use of biosensors), chemogenetics, and optogenetics to study cognition and the functional effects of simulated ‘junk food’ diets in rodents; combined with molecular and chemical profiling of the post mortem rodent brain. This framework spans from individual gene expression, neurochemical alterations of neurons and their surrounding extracellular components (perineuronal nets), to long-lasting effects on neurodevelopment to provide a comprehensive picture of the neurobiological impact of obesity from the micro- to macro-scale.

I have built a strong reputation as an emerging thought leader in neuroscience and nutrition fields, demonstrated through numerous grants, awards, and speaking invitations.



How junk food shapes the developing brain - The Conversation

Your brain on sugar: What the science actually says - The Conversation


TEDxSydney - This is your Brain on Sugar



Research projects available

Title: Harnessing the brain's extracellular matrix to understand cognition

A PhD student position with a domestic research stipend is available for a highly motivated individual with an interest in studying the neurobiological and cognitive impact of obesity using a combination of behavioural, molecular, cellular, genetic, and bioinformatics approaches. The project will use mouse models of dietary obesity with viral manipulations of the extracellular matrix in tandem with the assessment of high-order cognition and in vivo calcium imaging / optogenetics.

Projects available for: HDR
Location: Helen Mayo Building / SAHMRI
Research project start: Semester 1 and 2
Special requirements: N/A



Title: Saving the brain's safety nets

In this project we will examine the role of the extracellular matrix in the severity and prognosis of neurotrauma, using rodent models in combination with microscopy, gene expression analysis and cognitive assessment.

Projects available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR
Location: Helen Mayo Building / SAHMRI
Research project start: Semester 1 and 2
Special requirements: N/A

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2021 Gilchrist, C. P., Cumberland, A. L., Kondos‐Devcic, D., Hill, R. A., Khore, M., Quezada, S., . . . Tolcos, M. (2021). Hippocampal neurogenesis and memory in adolescence following intrauterine growth restriction. Hippocampus, 31(3), 321-334.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1
    2021 Reichelt, A. C., Lemieux, C. A., Princz-Lebel, O., Singh, A., Bussey, T. J., & Saksida, L. M. (2021). Age-dependent and region-specific alteration of parvalbumin neurons, perineuronal nets and microglia in the mouse prefrontal cortex and hippocampus following obesogenic diet consumption. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1-14.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS3 Europe PMC3
    2021 Bodden, C., Hannan, A. J., & Reichelt, A. C. (2021). Of 'junk food' and 'brain food': how parental diet influences offspring neurobiology and behaviour. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 32(8), 566-578.
    2020 Bodden, C., Hannan, A. J., & Reichelt, A. C. (2020). Diet-induced modification of the sperm epigenome programs metabolism and behavior. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 31(2), 131-149.
    DOI Scopus13 WoS13 Europe PMC8
    2020 Reichelt, A. C. (2020). Is loss of perineuronal nets a critical pathological event in Alzheimer's disease?. EBioMedicine, 59, 2 pages.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1
    2020 Lowe, C., Morton, J., & Reichelt, A. (2020). Adolescent obesity and dietary decision making -a brain-health perspective. The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, 4(5), 388-396.
    DOI Scopus20 WoS3 Europe PMC9
    2020 Loughman, A., Quinn, T., Nation, M. L., Reichelt, A., Moore, R. J., Van, T. T. H., . . . Tang, M. L. K. (2020). Infant microbiota in colic: predictive associations with problem crying and subsequent child behavior. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 12(2), 260-270.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS2 Europe PMC1
    2020 Reichelt, A. C., Loughman, A., Bernard, A., Raipuria, M., Abbott, K. N., Dachtler, J., . . . Moore, R. J. (2020). An intermittent hypercaloric diet alters gut microbiota, prefrontal cortical gene expression and social behaviours in rats. Nutritional Neuroscience, 23(8), 613-627.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS16 Europe PMC7
    2019 Reichelt, A. C., Collett, J. C., Landmann, O., & Hallam, K. T. (2019). Assessing the impacts of daily Cannabis versus alcohol and methamphetamines on young Australians in youth AOD treatment. BMC Psychiatry, 19(1), 416.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1
    2019 Pham, X., Wright, D. K., Atapour, N., Chan, J. M. H., Watkins, K. J., Worthy, K. H., . . . Reser, D. H. (2019). Internal subdivisions of the marmoset claustrum complex: identification by myeloarchitectural features and high field strength imaging. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 13, 1-13.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS2 Europe PMC1
    2019 Reichelt, A. C., Gibson, G. D., Abbott, K. N., & Hare, D. J. (2019). A high-fat high-sugar diet in adolescent rats impairs social memory and alters chemical markers characteristic of atypical neuroplasticity and parvalbumin interneuron depletion in the medial prefrontal cortex. Food and Function, 10(4), 1985-1998.
    DOI Scopus18 WoS16 Europe PMC9
    2019 Lowe, C., Reichelt, A., & Hall, P. (2019). The prefrontal cortex and obesity: a health neuroscience perspective. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23(4), 349-361.
    DOI Scopus61 WoS59 Europe PMC28
    2019 Pervolaraki, E., Tyson, A. L., Pibiri, F., Poulter, S. L., Reichelt, A. C., Rodgers, R. J., . . . Dachtler, J. (2019). The within-subject application of diffusion tensor MRI and CLARITY reveals brain structural changes in Nrxn2 deletion mice. Molecular Autism, 10(1), 13 pages.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5 Europe PMC4
    2019 Reichelt, A., Hare, D., Bussey, T., & Saksida, L. (2019). Perineuronal nets: plasticity, protection, and therapeutic potential. Trends in Neurosciences, 42(7), 458-470.
    DOI Scopus33 WoS28 Europe PMC25
    2019 Lowe, C. J., & Reichelt, A. C. (2019). Can magnetic resonance imaging reveal the neural signatures of dietary self-control?. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(4), 581-583.
    2018 Reichelt, A., Stoeckel, L., Reagan, L., Winstanley, C., & Page, K. (2018). Dietary influences on cognition. Physiology and Behavior, 192, 118-126.
    DOI Scopus16 WoS15 Europe PMC5
    2018 Xu, T., & Reichelt, A. (2018). Sucrose or sucrose and caffeine differentially impact memory and anxiety-like behaviours, and alter hippocampal parvalbumin and doublecortin. Neuropharmacology, 137, 24-32.
    DOI Scopus12 WoS13 Europe PMC7
    2018 Buyukata, C., Vukalo, M., Xu, T. J., Khore, M. A., & Reichelt, A. C. (2018). Impact of high sucrose diets on the discrimination of spatial and object memories with overlapping features. Physiology and Behavior, 192, 127-133.
    DOI Scopus3 WoS4 Europe PMC1
    2017 Reichelt, A., & Rank, M. (2017). The impact of junk foods on the adolescent brain. Birth Defects Research, 109(20), 1649-1658.
    DOI Scopus22 WoS23 Europe PMC10
    2017 Reichelt, A. C., Westbrook, R. F., & Morris, M. J. (2017). Editorial: Impact of diet on learning, memory and cognition. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11, 1-2.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS4 Europe PMC4
    2017 Wong, A., Dogra, V. R., & Reichelt, A. C. (2017). High-sucrose diets in male rats disrupt aspects of decision making tasks, motivation and spatial memory, but not impulsivity measured by operant delay-discounting. Behavioural Brain Research, 327, 144-154.
    DOI Scopus8 WoS8 Europe PMC2
    2017 Baker, K., Loughman, A., Spencer, S., & Reichelt, A. (2017). The impact of obesity and hypercaloric diet consumption on anxiety and emotional behavior across the lifespan. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 173-182.
    DOI Scopus29 WoS28 Europe PMC11
    2017 Labouesse, M., Lassalle, O., Richetto, J., Iafrati, J., Weber-Stadlbauer, U., Notter, T., . . . Meyer, U. (2017). Hypervulnerability of the adolescent prefrontal cortex to nutritional stress via reelin deficiency. Molecular Psychiatry, 22(7), 961-971.
    DOI Scopus33 WoS33 Europe PMC16
    2016 Reichelt, A. C. (2016). Adolescent maturational transitions in the prefrontal cortex and dopamine signaling as a risk factor for the development of obesity and high fat/high sugar diet induced cognitive deficits. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(OCT), 1-17.
    DOI Scopus43 WoS43 Europe PMC21
    2016 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.
    DOI Scopus33 WoS34 Europe PMC20
    2016 Abbott, K., Morris, M., Westbrook, R., & Reichelt, A. (2016). Sex-specific effects of daily exposure to sucrose on spatial memory performance in male and female rats, and implications for estrous cycle stage. Physiology and Behavior, 162, 52-60.
    DOI Scopus24 WoS23 Europe PMC14
    2016 Reichelt, A., Morris, M., & Westbrook, R. (2016). Daily access to sucrose impairs aspects of spatial memory tasks reliant on pattern separation and neural proliferation in rats. Learning and Memory, 23(7), 386-390.
    DOI Scopus17 WoS16 Europe PMC10
    2016 Reichelt, A. C., Abbott, K. N., Westbrook, R. F., & Morris, M. J. (2016). Differential motivational profiles following adolescent sucrose access in male and female rats. Physiology and Behavior, 157, 13-19.
    DOI Scopus38 WoS36 Europe PMC18
    2016 Boitard, C., Parkes, S. L., Cavaroc, A., Tantot, F., Castanon, N., Layé, S., . . . Ferreira, G. (2016). Switching adolescent high-fat diet to adult control diet restores neurocognitive alterations. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10(NOV), 11 pages.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS35 Europe PMC15
    2015 Morris, M., Beilharz, J., Maniam, J., Reichelt, A., & Westbrook, R. (2015). Why is obesity such a problem in the 21st century? The intersection of palatable food, cues and reward pathways, stress, and cognition. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 58, 36-45.
    DOI Scopus143 WoS139 Europe PMC78
    2015 Reichelt, A. C., Maniam, J., Westbrook, R. F., & Morris, M. J. (2015). Dietary-induced obesity disrupts trace fear conditioning and decreases hippocampal reelin expression. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 43, 68-75.
    DOI Scopus35 WoS36 Europe PMC20
    2015 Exton-McGuinness, M., Lee, J., & Reichelt, A. (2015). Updating memories–the role of prediction errors in memory reconsolidation. Behavioural Brain Research, 278, 375-384.
    DOI Scopus90 WoS85 Europe PMC47
    2015 Reichelt, A., Killcross, S., Hambly, L., Morris, M., & Westbrook, R. (2015). Impact of adolescent sucrose access on cognitive control, recognition memory, and parvalbumin immunoreactivity. Learning and Memory, 22(4), 215-224.
    DOI Scopus61 WoS61 Europe PMC38
    2015 Reichelt, A., Westbrook, R., & Morris, M. (2015). Integration of reward signalling and appetite regulating peptide systems in the control of food-cue responses. British Journal of Pharmacology, 172(22), 5225-5238.
    DOI Scopus27 WoS23 Europe PMC19
    2014 Siette, J., Reichelt, A., & Westbrook, R. (2014). A bout of voluntary running enhances context conditioned fear, its extinction, and its reconsolidation. Learning and Memory, 21(2), 73-81.
    DOI Scopus34 WoS34 Europe PMC22
    2014 Reichelt, A. C., Morris, M. J., & Westbrook, R. F. (2014). Cafeteria diet impairs expression of sensory-specific satiety and stimulus-outcome learning. FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 5, 11 pages.
    DOI WoS31 Europe PMC20
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., & Lee, J. L. C. (2013). Memory reconsolidation in aversive and appetitive settings. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(SEP), 18 pages.
    DOI Scopus60 WoS55 Europe PMC36
    2013 Martire, S. I., Tran, D. M. D., & Reichelt, A. C. (2013). Preventing binge eating with deep brain stimulation - Can compulsive eating be switched off?. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4(DEC), 168.
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., Good, M. A., & Killcross, S. (2013). Attenuation of acute d-amphetamine-induced disruption of conflict resolution by clozapine, but not α-flupenthixol in rats. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(11), 1023-1031.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS2 Europe PMC2
    2013 Humby, T., Eddy, J., Good, M., Reichelt, A., & Wilkinson, L. (2013). A novel translational assay of response inhibition and impulsivity: effects of prefrontal cortex lesions, drugs used in ADHD, and serotonin 2C receptor antagonism. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(11), 2150-2159.
    DOI Scopus27 WoS25 Europe PMC21
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., Killcross, S., Wilkinson, L. S., Humby, T., & Good, M. A. (2013). Transgenic expression of the FTDP-17 tau<inf>V337M</inf> mutation in brain dissociates components of executive function in mice. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 104, 73-81.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS8 Europe PMC7
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., & Lee, J. L. C. (2013). Over-expectation generated in a complex appetitive goal-tracking task is capable of inducing memory reconsolidation. Psychopharmacology, 226(4), 649-658.
    DOI Scopus14 WoS13 Europe PMC9
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., & Lee, J. L. C. (2013). Appetitive Pavlovian goal-tracking memories reconsolidate only under specific conditions. Learning and Memory, 20(1), 51-60.
    DOI Scopus22 WoS20 Europe PMC12
    2013 Reichelt, A. C., Exton-McGuinness, M. T., & Lee, J. L. C. (2013). Ventral tegmental dopamine dysregulation prevents appetitive memory destabilization. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(35), 14205-14210.
    DOI Scopus36 WoS35 Europe PMC23
    2012 Reichelt, A. C., Rodgers, R. J., & Clapcote, S. J. (2012). The role of neurexins in schizophrenia and autistic spectrum disorder. Neuropharmacology, 62(3), 1519-1526.
    DOI Scopus70 WoS65 Europe PMC53
    2011 Reichelt, A., Lin, T., Harrison, J., Honey, R., & Good, M. (2011). Differential role of the hippocampus in response-outcome and context-outcome learning: Evidence from selective satiation procedures. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 96(2), 248-253.
    DOI Scopus5 WoS5 Europe PMC4
  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2015 Reichelt, A. C., & Dachtler, J. (2015). The role of neurexins and neuroligins in autism. In The Molecular Basis of Autism (pp. 361-381). Springer New York.
    DOI Scopus1
  • Internet Publications

    Year Citation
    Morphett, J., Whittaker, A., Reichelt, A., & Hutchinson, M. (n.d.). Perineuronal net structure as a non-cellular mechanism of affective state, a scoping review. INPLASY - International Platform of Registered Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Protocols.

2021 – 2025     National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant - Emerging Leader - Harnessing the extracellular matrix to fight obesity-induced cognitive impairment - $650K AUD

2020 – 2021     Neurosurgical Research Foundation (NSF) (CIA) - The role of diet in mediating the effect on cognitive impairment and cortical perineuronal net alterations following traumatic brain injury - $30K AUD. CIB Dr Frances Corrigan, CIC A/Prof Lyndsey Collins-Praino

2018 – 2020      BrainsCAN Tier 1 Fellowship - $225K CAD

2018 – 2021     Australian Research Council Discovery Project (Primary CI) - Functional impact of high energy diets on memory encoding. CI Prof Anthony Hannan (Florey Department, University of Melbourne) - $428K AUD

2018 – 2021     National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant (CIE) - Novel pharmacological strategies to treat cognitive dysfunction in COPD. CIA Prof Ross Vlahos - $872K AUD

2018                RMIT Transitional Research Grants for Teaching and Research Staff (CIB) - Early gastrointestinal microbiota determinants of child behaviour at age 2. CIA Dr Amy Loughman $10K AUD

2015                UNSW Science Early Career Grant (Sole CI) - Impact of sucrose bingeing in adolescent rats on brain reward system connectivity. $7.3K AUD

2014 – 2017     Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (Sole CI) - Does obesity alter psychological associations to food-related cues, contexts and responses? $375K AUD

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor Exploring the neurobiological bases of affective states Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Jane Cerina Morphett
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Metformin as a therapeutic intervention for diet-induced memory impairments Western University, Canada Honours Tina Joseph
    2018 - ongoing External Supervisor The efficacy of metformin at reversing diet-induced cognitive impairments Western University, Canada Doctorate Olivia Ghosh-Swaby
    2018 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Investigating the role of perineuronal nets in hippocampal dependent memory Western University, Canada Honours Ashmita Singh
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 8133180
  • Email:
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Helen Mayo South, floor 4
  • Org Unit: Medical Sciences

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