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Karly Turner

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Neuroscience), QBI, The University of Queensland (2016)

  • Bachelor of Science (Zoology) Hons, The University of Queensland (2007).

  • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), The University of Queensland, (2006).

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Research interests

I am a behavioural neuroscientist interested in cognitive processes that go awry in neuropsychiatric disorders. Using animal models, I study the brain circuits underlying attention, learning and decision-making. My current research aims to understand how associations between our actions and their consequences are learnt, and how these are updated when conditions change. We use sophisticated behavioural paradigms to dissect the psychological mechanisms underlying complex behaviour, in combination with various tools including chemogenetics, optogenetics and pharmacology to manipulate brain circuits. I am particularly interested in translational preclinical mental health research to bridge the bench to bedside gap, with my current project focused on understanding inappropriate responding in disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia.

Funding and Awards

  • 2024-28: NHMRC Ideas Grant, National Health and Medical Research Council (CIA Turner, CIB Bradfield, CIC Killcross; $1.3mil)

  • 2024: Theo Murphy Initiative Participation Support Grant, Australian Academy of Science

  • 2023: Neuroscience, Mental Health & Addiction Collaborative Research Funding, UNSW

  • 2023: NARSAD Young Investigator Grant, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation 

  • 2021: UNSW Science Covid-19 Strategic Support Grant, Faculty of Science, UNSW

  • 2021: First Prize - Postdoctoral, Stay Connected Neuro Oz Seminar

  • 2021-23: UNSW Safety Net Fellowship

  • 2019-2020: UNSW Goldstar Award, CIA (<10% near-miss funding for NHMRC Ideas Grant 2019) Faculty of Science UNSW, $25,000 

  • 2017-2021 NHMRC CJ Martin Early Career Fellowship, “Dissecting the role of cortico-striatal circuitry on habit formation” with Prof. Trevor Robbins (University of Cambridge) and Scientia Prof. Bernard Balleine (UNSW)

  • 2019: IBNS Travel Award

  • 2018: Charles Slater Travel Award, University of Cambridge

  • 2018: IBRO International Travel Grant

  • 2018: FENS-IBRO/PERC Travel Grant

  • 2017: Guarantors of Brain Travel Grant

  • 2015-2016: QBI Top-up Scholarship, QBI, The University of Queensland

  • 2014: Best Short Talk Prize, QBI Graduate Student Symposium

  • 2014: SfN Chapter Travel Award, Society for Neuroscience

  • 2014: ANS Student Travel Award, Australian Neuroscience Society

  • 2013: Runner-up and People’s Choice Award, 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, QBI

  • 2013: ANS Student Travel Award, Australian Neuroscience Society

  • 2012: ATSE Young Science Ambassador Award, Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering

  • 2012: Istvan Tork Student Oral Prize, Australian Neuroscience Society

  • 2012-2016: Australian Postgraduate Award, Australian Government

  • 2012-2015: Smart Futures PhD Scholarship Award, Queensland Government


  • Turner, K. M. (2024). Prefrontal Control of Actions and Habits. In Habits: Their Definition, Neurobiology, and Role in Addiction (pp. 169-189). Springer International Publishing. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M. and Balleine, B.W. (2023) Stimulus-control of habits: Evidence for both stimulus-specificity and devaluation insensitivity in a dual-response task. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Read More. 

  • Turner, K. M. and Kesby, J. P. (2023) The translational utility of circuit-based manipulations in preclinical models. Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science. 

  • Watson, P., O’Callaghan, C., Perkes, I., Bradfield, L., & Turner, K. (2022). Making habits measurable beyond what they are not: a focus on associative dual-process models. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 104869. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Svegborn, A., Langguth, M., McKenzie, C., & Robbins, T. W. (2022). Opposing roles of the dorsolateral and dorsomedial striatum in the acquisition of skilled action sequencing in rats. Journal of Neuroscience, 42(10), 2039-2051. Read More.

  • Turner K.M., Ganesan K., Bradfield L.A. (2021) Evidence that compulsive reward seeking has been hiding in the central dorsal striatum. Biological Psychiatry, 90(12), 800 – 802. Read More.

  • Turner K.M., Svegborn A., Langguth M., McKenzie C., Robbins T.W. (2021) Opposing roles of the dorsolateral and dorsomedial striatum in the acquisition of skilled action sequencing in rats. bioRxiv. Read More.

  • Turner K.M., Balleine B.W., Bradfield L.A. (2021) Does disrupting the orbitofrontal cortex alter sensitivity to punishment? A potential mechanism of compulsivity. Behavioral neuroscience, 135, 174 - 181. Read More.

  • Turner, K.M., & Parkes, S. L. (2020) Prefrontal regulation of behavioural control: Evidence from learning theory and translational approaches in rodents. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 118, 27-41. Read More.

  • Langguth, M., Fassin, M., Alexander, S., Turner, K. M., & Burne, T. H. J. (2018). No effect of prenatal vitamin D deficiency on autism-relevant behaviours in multiple inbred strains of mice. Behav Brain Res, 348, 42-52. Read More.

  • Kesby, J. P., Turner, K. M., Alexander, S., Eyles, D. W., McGrath, J. J., & Burne, T. H. J. (2017). Developmental vitamin D deficiency alters multiple neurotransmitter systems in the neonatal rat brain. Int J Dev Neurosci, 62, 1-7. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Peak, J., & Burne, T. H. (2017). Baseline-dependent effects of amphetamine on attention are associated with striatal dopamine metabolism. Sci Rep, 7(1), 297. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Simpson, C. G., & Burne, T. H. (2017). BALB/c Mice Can Learn Touchscreen Visual Discrimination and Reversal Tasks Faster than C57BL/6 Mice. Front Behav Neurosci, 11, 16. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Simpson, C. G., & Burne, T. H. J. (2017). Touchscreen-based Visual Discrimination and Reversal Tasks for Mice to Test Cognitive Flexibility. Bio-Protocol, 7(20). Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., & Burne, T. H. (2016). Improvement of attention with amphetamine in low- and high-performing rats. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 233(18), 3383-3394. Read More.

  • Cui, X., Lefevre, E., Turner, K. M., Coelho, C. M., Alexander, S., Burne, T. H., & Eyles, D. W. (2015). MK-801-induced behavioural sensitisation alters dopamine release and turnover in rat prefrontal cortex. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 232(3), 509-517. Read More.

  • Peak, J. N., Turner, K. M., & Burne, T. H. (2015). The effect of developmental vitamin D deficiency in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats on decision-making using a rodent gambling task. Physiol Behav, 138, 319-324. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Peak, J., & Burne, T. H. (2015). Measuring Attention in Rodents: Comparison of a Modified Signal Detection Task and the 5-Choice Serial Reaction Time Task. Front Behav Neurosci, 9, 370. Read More.

  • Burne, T. H., Alexander, S., Turner, K. M., Eyles, D. W., & McGrath, J. J. (2014). Developmentally vitamin D-deficient rats show enhanced prepulse inhibition after acute Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Behav Pharmacol, 25(3), 236-244. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., & Burne, T. H. (2014). Comprehensive behavioural analysis of Long Evans and Sprague-Dawley rats reveals differential effects of housing conditions on tests relevant to neuropsychiatric disorders. PLoS One, 9(3), e93411. Read More.

  • Byrne, J. H., Voogt, M., Turner, K. M., Eyles, D. W., McGrath, J. J., & Burne, T. H. (2013). The impact of adult vitamin D deficiency on behaviour and brain function in male Sprague-Dawley rats. PLoS One, 8(8), e71593. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., & Burne, T. H. (2013). Interaction of genotype and environment: effect of strain and housing conditions on cognitive behavior in rodent models of schizophrenia. Front Behav Neurosci, 7, 97. Read More.

  • Turner, K. M., Young, J. W., McGrath, J. J., Eyles, D. W., & Burne, T. H. (2013). Cognitive performance and response inhibition in developmentally vitamin D (DVD)-deficient rats. Behav Brain Res, 242, 47-53. Read More.

  • Formella, I., Scott, E. K., Burne, T. H., Harms, L. R., Liu, P. Y., Turner, K. M., . . . Eyles, D. W. (2012). Transient knockdown of tyrosine hydroxylase during development has persistent effects on behaviour in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio). PLoS One, 7(8), e42482. Read More.

  • Harms, L. R., Turner, K. M., Eyles, D. W., Young, J. W., McGrath, J. J., & Burne, T. H. (2012). Attentional processing in C57BL/6J mice exposed to developmental vitamin D deficiency. PLoS One, 7(4), e35896. Read More.

  • Moreira, L. A., Ye, Y. H., Turner, K., Eyles, D. W., McGraw, E. A., & O'Neill, S. L. (2011). The wMelPop strain of Wolbachia interferes with dopamine levels in Aedes aegypti. Parasit Vectors, 4, 28. Read More.

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