Heather Francis


  • 418 Citations
  • 11 h-Index
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Personal profile


Heather completed her BPsych(hons) and Combined PhD/Master of Clinical Neuropsychology at Macquarie University in 2008 and 2013 respectively. She has held positions as a Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Neurology Department at Liverpool Hospital and as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University.  Currently, she is a Lecturer in Clinical Neuropsychology at Macquarie University and holds a position as a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist in the Royal North Shore Hospital Neurology Department.

Research interests

Heather's primary research interest is in the area of nutritional neuroscience. Her studies have examined the effect of Western-style diets, high in saturated fat, refined sugar and processed foods, on cognition and mood. And conversely, the therapeutic potential of consuming a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet on improving symptoms of depressed mood. 

Heather's has additional interest in the assessment and remediation of cognition and social function in neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and brain injury. Current projects include the role of inflammation in cognitive fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis, the efficacy of a group memory training program in people with multiple sclerosis, and the impact of a group therapy program on cognition and mood in binge eating disorder. 

Research student supervision

Heather supervises students in PhD, Masters of Clinical Neuropsychology and Honours. Topics include nutritional neuroscience, Western-style diet impact on cognition, therapeutic potential of Mediterranean-style diet, eating behaviour and cognitive remediation. 


Heather currently convenes and teaches on the following units:

1) PSYN855 (Convenor) Neuroanatomy for Neuropsychologists

2) PSYN916 (Lecturer) Advanced Neuropsychological Assessment

3) PSYN917 (Lecturer) Neuropsychological Practice

4) PSYN918 (Lecturer) Clinical Neuropsychology Research Proposal

5) PSY344 (Lecturer) Neuropsychology in Clinical Practice

6) MEDI921 (Lecturer) Musculoskeletal, Neurosciences and Aging

Education/Academic qualification

Psychology, Combined PhD/Masters of Clinical Neuropsychology, Macquarie University


Psychology, Bachelor of Psychology (honours), Macquarie University


External positions

Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist, Royal North Shore Hospital

20 Mar 2019 → …

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Projects 2017 2020

Research Outputs 2009 2019

  • 418 Citations
  • 11 h-Index
  • 23 Article
  • 4 Chapter
  • 1 Abstract
  • 1 Review article

A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial

Francis, H. M., Stevenson, R. J., Chambers, J. R., Gupta, D., Newey, B. & Lim, C. K., 9 Oct 2019, In : PLoS ONE. 14, 10, p. 1-17 17 p., e0222768.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
young adults
signs and symptoms (animals and humans)
Young Adult
Randomized Controlled Trials

Outcome instruments in moderate-to-severe adult traumatic brain injury: recommendations for use in psychosocial research

Honan, C. A., McDonald, S., Tate, R., Ownsworth, T., Togher, L., Fleming, J., Anderson, V., Morgan, A., Catroppa, C., Douglas, J., Francis, H., Wearne, T., Sigmundsdottir, L. & Ponsford, J., 2019, In : Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. 29, 6, p. 896-916 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Executive Function
Expert Testimony

Wanting and liking for sugar sweetened beverages and snacks differ following depletion and repletion with energy and fluids

Pender, S., Stevenson, R. J., Francis, H. M. & Oaten, M. J., 1 Jun 2019, In : Appetite. 137, p. 81-89 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Gustatory areas within the insular cortex

Stevenson, R. J., Francis, H. M. & Ragg, C. J., 24 Jul 2018, Island of Reil (insula) in the human brain: anatomical, functional, clinical and surgical aspects. Turgut, M., Yurttas, C. & Tubbs, R. S. (eds.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer, Springer Nature, p. 133-145 13 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Cerebral Cortex
Taste Perception

Hippocampal dependent neuropsychological tests and their relationship to measures of cardiac and self-report interoception

Stevenson, R. J., Francis, H. M., Oaten, M. J. & Schilt, R., Jun 2018, In : Brain and Cognition. 123, p. 23-29 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Neuropsychological Tests
Self Report
Verbal Learning