Professor Adam Guastella
Professor Adam Guastella is a clinical psychologist, the Michael Crouch Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health, and head of the Clinic for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre. His research encompasses all stages of development, from young infants through to late adulthood, across a range of neurodiverse and mental health conditions, such as autism, anxiety, psychosis, and substance dependence.
Located between the Sydney Children's Hospital at Westmead and the Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Guastella’s work as the Michael Crouch Chair aims to build collaborative partnerships between researchers, clinicians, and services to ensure that children and families receive the best available assessments and treatments to support wellbeing. As part of this role, he is the co-lead of the Child-Neurodevelopment and Mental Health Team for the University of Sydney. This multi-disciplinary team
of professors aims to solve complex problems for children with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families. He is also the co-lead for the child bio-informatics hub for the University of Sydney, applying technology application to support wellbeing and research with families.
Professor Guastella’s work at the Clinic for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (CAN Research) includes providing group-based Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) programs. These programs conduct diagnostic, neuropsychological and emotional wellbeing assessments to understand factors that contribute to disability and use CBT group-based interventions to improve emotion wellbeing and social confidence. This work has driven new treatment approaches and delivered world-first research exploring the mental health of adults with autism.
Professor Guastella also has an established track record in human translational neuroscience. His primary interest is in using neuroscience to inform and develop novel treatments for young patients with mental health problems. This research has led him to study the neurobiology of social behaviour, its development in early life, and how this neurobiology relates to symptoms that cause distress and impairment. His research may take the form of cognitive-experimental investigations. It may also involve clinical trials to demonstrate efficacy of interventions.
Professor Guastella is a clinical trials specialist and has evaluated the benefits of psychological and medical therapies. To illustrate, Professor Guastella initiated a program of research that showed the powerful enhancing effects of oxytocin administration on face-perception and the cognitive processing of social-stimuli in humans. Subsequently, his team was the first in the world to show that a medication could be used as a treatment for social challenges in young children with autism. This program of research now focuses on understanding who responds to treatment, why and now incorporates multi-site trials across Europe, Asia and Australia. It involves world-first trials of targets to treat social impairment and development of new devices and behavioural interventions to enhance response.
Professor Adam Guastella's research interests include: clinical trials, neurodevelopmental disorders and child development, autism, social anxiety, social neurobiology, cognitive-behaviour therapy.
Some of my research highlights include:
- Developing world-first oxytocin trials for young children with autism
- Understanding the action of oxytocin through ligand development
- Understanding how group therapy improves outcomes for individuals with autism and social anxiety disorder
Boulton, K. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2022). The Importance of Experimental Investigation of the CNS Oxytocin System. In Oxytocin (pp. 53-65). Humana, New York, NY.
Boulton, K. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2021). Social anxiety symptoms in autism spectrum disorder and social anxiety disorder: Considering the reliability of self‐report instruments in adult cohorts. Autism Research, 14(11), 2383-2392.
Yatawara, C. J., Einfeld, S. L., Hickie, I. B., Davenport, T. A., & Guastella, A. J. (2016). The effect of oxytocin nasal spray on social interaction deficits observed in young children with autism: A randomized clinical crossover trial. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(9), 1225-1231.
Guastella A..J., & Hickie, I. (2015). Treatment, Circuitry and Autism: A critical review of the literature placing oxytocin into the autism context. Biological Psychiatry.
Guastella AJ, Ward PB, Hickie IB, Shahrestani S, Hodge MA, Scott EM, Langdon R. (2015). A single dose of oxytocin nasal spray improves higher-order social cognition in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research. 168 (3), 628-633
Guastella., A.J., Gray, K. Rinehart, N., Tonge, B., Hickie, I.B., Alvares, G.A., Keating, C., Cacciotti, C., Einfeld, S.L. (2015). A randomized controlled trial of a course of intranasal oxytocin to treat youth diagnosed with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56 (4), 444-452.
Guastella, A.J., Hermens, D.F., Van Zwieten, A., Naismith, S.,L., Lee, R.S.Z., Cacciotti-Saija, C., Scott, E.M., & Hickie, I.B. (2013). Social cognition performance is a marker of positive psychotic symptoms in young people seeking help for mental health problems. Schizophrenia Research, 149 (1-3): 77-82.
Guastella, A.J., Hickie, I.B., McGuinness, M.M, Otis, M., Woods, E., Disinger, H., Chan, H.K., Chen, T.F., & Banati., R.B. (2013). Recommendations for the standardisation of oxytocin nasal administration and guidelines for its reporting in human research. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38, 612-625.
Guastella, A.J. & Macleod, C. (2012). A critical review of the influence of oxytocin nasal spray and social cognition: Evidence and future directions. (Invited Manuscript). Hormones and Behavior. 61(3), 410-418.
Guastella, A.J., Einfeld, S.E., Gray, K., Rinehart, N., Tonge, B., Lambert, T., & Hickie, I.B. (2010). Intranasal oxytocin improves emotion recognition for youth with Autism. Biological Psychiatry, 67(7), 692-694.