Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr. Joyce Yau

Senior Lecturer

Phone: 0131 242 6760

Qualifications

Bachelor of Science (BSc), University of Aberdeen

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Dundee

Current Research Interests

  • The effect of chronic stress or elevated glucocorticoids on the ageing brain in health and disease.
  • Brain mechanisms that underpin how stress exposure in midlife accelerates age-related cognitive decline.
  • Glucocorticoids and the persistence of traumatic memories.

My research in a nutshell

Glucocorticoid hormones released as part of the stress response play an important role in the normal function and homeostasis of the brain. Whereas elevated glucocorticoid levels are essential for surviving stress, prolonged exposure to stress levels of glucocorticoids can have detrimental effects and may increase the risk of disease. Large individual differences in cognitive abilities are found among aged individuals. One factor thought to contribute to this heterogeneity is stress exposure throughout life. Studies in both humans and animals have found that age-related memory decline associates with chronically elevated blood glucocorticoid levels. My research focuses on (i) the role of brain glucocorticoids generated by the 11beta-HSD1 enzyme in the regulation of learning and memory; (ii) how stressful life events particularly in vulnerable periods of the adult lifespan such as midlife affects the ageing brain; and (iii) therapeutic interventions to prevent or ameliorate age- and stress-related cognitive dysfunction.

Teaching

BSc Biomedical Sciences Honours Degree Programme

Course organiser & lecturer: Genetics and Environmental Influences on Behaviour and Mental Health Honours Elective.

Lecturer: Endocrine Physiology and Pharmacology Honours Elective.

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