Professor Mitchell Byrne

Professor Mitchell Byrne has recently been appointed to the position of Associate Dean – Education for “IntoHealth”; a Primary and Community Health Care facility to be operated by the University of Wollongong. In this role, Professor Byrne will take responsibility for the development and coordination of health inspired/focused undergraduate and post graduate courses delivered wholly or in part from the IntoHealth Facility.

Professor Byrne has over 30 years’ experience working within health industries, both private and public, in the discipline of Psychology. His previous appointments have included multidisciplinary leadership roles in both Mental Health and Disabilities, including leading Adult Mental Health Services for Bassetlaw NHS Trust in the UK. He has also held a number of State and National leadership positions within the Australian Psychological Society.

Professor Byrne also has over 20 years’ experience in Tertiary education, first as a foundation member the Masters of Forensic Psychology at the University of South Australia, and subsequently a senior clinical academic within the Professional Psychology Programs at the University of Wollongong, including the position of Director of Clinical Training from 2013 to 2016.

Professor Byrne maintains an ongoing clinical and forensic psychology practice and a diversified research program, working collaboratively across disciplines and faculties, including co-leadership of the Global Challenges Antimicrobial Resistance project (with Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen) and the NHMRC funded Omega-3 and aggression study, with Professor Barbara Meyer.

Oils ain’t oils: How dietary intake of Omega-3 PUFA can improve cognition and behavioural self-regulation in both adults and young children.

It has been known for quite some time that adequate intake of omega-3 is associated with enhanced cardiovascular health and has other physical health benefits including joint health. Our diets have changed in that we are consuming too many omega-6 PUFA and not enough omega-3, and the omega-6 displaces omega-3 from our bodies. Emerging but substantial literature suggests that inadequate levels of omega-3, as measured in blood samples, is associated with a broad range of mental health difficulties and that supplementation with omega-3 can attenuate the symptoms of some of those conditions. Compared to international standards for adequate levels of omega-3, Australians intake is poor and this is in part associated with inadequate inclusion of fish and other rich sources of omega-3 in our diets, but also high intakes of omega-6. One area of particular concern is how this deficit in dietary intake of sources of omega-3 might affect cognitive processes, in particular, those associated with executive functioning and behavioural control.

In this presentation we will outline the biological plausibility of omega-3 in supporting healthy cognitive functioning and detail three studies investigating the impact of supplementation on behavioural self-regulation in both adults and young children. Preliminary data will be provided from each of the studies and we will discuss the implications for health and nutrition policies at a national level.

Learning Outcomes

  • How humans obtain omega 3 and the challenge of omega 6
  • The role of omega 3 in mental health and behaviour
  • The biological plausibility for the relationship between omega 3 and enhanced cognitive processes