Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience

The interdisciplinary Psychopathology & Affective Neuroscience group focuses on psychological and biological approaches to the study of emotion-relevant processes in clinical and non-clinical populations across the lifespan. Strengths within this group encompass: Emotional development and the development of psychopathology; Treatment of psychopathology; Emotion regulation; Brain, bodily and genetic mechanisms underlying (social) cognition and emotion. The group has a very active clinical research programme, dedicated to advancing understanding of depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders and autism in children and adults. It is also actively involved in developing and evaluating treatments for these conditions. Members of this group are affiliated with the Winnicott Research Unit, the Charlie Waller Institute of Evidence Based Psychological Treatments, the Berkshire Child Anxiety Clinic,the Berkshire Autism Research Network, the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics and the Berkshire Memory and Cognition Research Centre. The group also hosts an MRC Doctoral Training Grant on the development of affective regulation and disturbance, developing the skills of a highly talented new generation of interdisciplinary psychopathology and affective neuroscience researchers.


Impact   -   Discovery   -   Profile   -   Future
Our research team - Our recent publications

Academic staff

Bhismadev Chakrabarti
Associate Professor. Office: 223; Tel: 5551; Email: b.chakrabarti@reading.ac.uk
Bhismadev Chakrabarti's research group studies emotion processing, empathy, and autism. A number of techniques, including fMRI, gaze-tracking, psychophysics, and psychophysiology are used to investigate these topics. This research is supported by the Medical Research Council UK, Felix Foundation, and Autism Speaks USA. Individual differences at a genetic level are studied in collaboration with the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.
Anastasia Christakou
Lecturer. Office: 1S24; Tel: 6298; Email: anastasia.christakou@reading.ac.uk
Anastasia Christakou's research group study learning and decision-making mechanisms in the brains of humans and other animals. We are interested in the development of these processes and their perturbation in psychopathology. Our work is supported by the UK Research Councils, the Royal Society, and the Human Frontier Science Program.
Peter Cooper
Professor. Office: 237; Tel: 6617; Email: p.j.cooper@reading.ac.uk
Peter Cooper and Lynne Murray are currently engaged in four main lines of research. First, in collaboration with Cathy Creswell, they are working on the development and treatment of child anxiety disorders, principally by means of a longitudinal study and randomised controlled trials. Second, in collaboration with colleagues in Oxford, they are running a randomised controlled trial of an intervention for chronic postpartum depression. Third, also with colleagues in Oxford, they have developed an intervention they are currently evaluating for families with infants with cleft lip/palate. Finally, in collaboration with colleagues in South Africa, they are developing and evaluating interventions for improving child cognitive and socio-emotional development in the developing world.
Cathy Creswell
Principal Research Fellow, Clinical Fellow. Office: 241; Tel: 6798; Email: c.creswell@reading.ac.uk
Cathy Creswell conducts research in to the development and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders, working in collaboration with the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust CAMHS Anxiety and Depression Pathway where she is an Hon Consultant Clinical Psychologist. Her recent and ongoing work is funded by the MRC, EME, NIHR and ESRC and employs prospective, experimental and treatment trial designs, commonly using observational methods. She has particular interests in the changing association between cognition and anxiety through development, and the role of parental responses in promoting positive child outcomes.
Helen Dodd
Lecturer. Office: 274; Tel: 5285; Email: h.f.dodd@reading.ac.uk
Helen Dodd conducts research into the development of anxiety disorders in children using longitudinal and experimental designs. Helen is particularly interested in developmental pathways to anxiety and ways of identifying young children who are at risk for long-term difficulties with anxiety. Helen has a number of ongoing projects including two large longitudinal studies funded by the Australian Research Council, being conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Emotional Health (Macquarie University, Australia).
Kate Harvey
Lecturer. Office: 297; Tel: 7524; Email: k.n.harvey@reading.ac.uk
Kate Harvey collaborates with NHS colleagues to conduct multidisciplinary research focused on improving primary care services for people with mild to moderate mental health problems and long-term health conditions. This research, supported by the NHS SDO R&D Programme, has shown that access to primary care services is poor for people with mental health problems. It has also identified reliable and valid outcome measures of the effectiveness of interventions aimed at patient and carer support. The second strand of her research focuses on understanding children's eating and infant feeding choices.
Aileen Ho
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychologist. Office: 1S12; Tel: 5550; Email: a.k.ho@reading.ac.uk
Aileen Ho is a registered clinical psychologist and experimental psychologist who leads the Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology Group. Her work encompasses ageing and clinical research, particularly in neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, dementia, and Huntington‘s disease. Key interests are understanding cognitive, behavioural and speech impairment; loss of everyday function, and impact on quality of life; as well as developing useful behavioural interventions. Aileen is funded by ESRC, Parkinson's UK, HiQ Foundation, and the European Huntington's Disease Network.
Tom Johnstone
Professor. Office: 1S25; Tel: 7530; Email: i.t.johnstone@reading.ac.uk
Tom Johnstone's group, funded by the MRC, ESRC, EPSRC and BBSRC, uses functional and structural MRI and TMS in conjunction with behavioural and physiological measures to probe the interaction between subcortical, prefrontal and sensory cortices in the production and regulation of emotional behaviour. A clinical line of research investigates changes to the function of this brain circuitry associated with anxiety disorders and depression, as well as early life risk factors for these affective disorders.
Fiona Knott
Senior Lecturer. Office: 150; Tel: 7539; Email: f.j.knott@reading.ac.uk
Fiona Knott is interested in the development and manifestation of anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), with particular regard to parenting and cognitive behavioural treatment. She has examined the nature of family and peer relationships in the context of autism spectrum disorder and the impact of beliefs and attributions about ASD on family functioning and friendships.
Lorella Lepore
Lecturer. Office: 280; Tel: 8528; Email: l.lepore@reading.ac.uk
Ciara McCabe
Lecturer, Honorary Visiting Fellow. Office: 1S19; Tel: 5450; Email: c.mccabe@reading.ac.uk
Ciara McCabe is head of the Neuroimaging of Reward Group (NRG). In our lab we are interested in how the reward system in the human brain is compromised in psychiatric disorders. We have developed a human experimental medicine model that utilizes chocolate to activate the reward system in the human brain. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain we can then examine this system under pharmacological challenges and in those "at risk" of psychiatric disorders. Understanding how these systems function will provide us with clearer targets for drug development and psychological interventions. This work is funded by the MRC and Pharma.
Kou Murayama
Lecturer. Office: 2S23; Tel: 5558; Email: k.murayama@reading.ac.uk
Kou Murayama is conducting multidisciplinary research on motivation-cognition interaction. His research has utilized a variety of techniques such as behavioural experiments, neuroimaging, logitudinal survey methods, meta-analysis, behavioural genetics methods, statistical simulation etc.
Lynne Murray
Professor. Office: 239; Tel: 6302; Email: lynne.murray@reading.ac.uk
Lynne Murray and Peter Cooper are currently engaged in four main lines of research. First, in collaboration with Cathy Creswell, they are working on the development and treatment of child anxiety disorders, principally by means of a longitudinal study and randomised controlled trials. Second, in collaboration with colleagues in Oxford, they are running a randomised controlled trial of an intervention for chronic postpartum depression. Third, also with colleagues in Oxford, they have developed an intervention they are currently evaluating for families with infants with cleft lip/palate. Finally, in collaboration with colleagues in South Africa, they are developing and evaluating interventions for improving child cognitive and socio-emotional development in the developing world.
Michiko Sakaki
Senior Research Fellow. Office: 2S24; Tel: 7556; Email: m.sakaki@reading.ac.uk
Michiko Sakaki conducts research into the effects of emotion on cognitive processing combining behavioural and brain imaging techniques. We all experience an emotion in daily life. These emotional experiences have complex effects on cognitive processing, with enhancing some aspects of cognition while inhibiting other aspects. Funded by the EU, her ongoing research aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the complex effects of emotion on cognition. She is also interested in how the age-related changes in brain alter the effects of emotion on cognitive processing.
Tim Salomons
Lecturer. Office: 1S13; Tel: 8524; Email: t.v.salomons@reading.ac.uk
Tim Salomons is interested in the cognitive and biological mechanisms that make pain salient and how individual differences in these mechanisms might underlie differences in coping and treatment response. He uses neuroimaging and a variety of psychophysical, psychometric and psychophysiological measures to examine these mechanisms.
Craig Steel
Senior Lecturer, Clinical Psychologist. Office: 2S08; Tel: 7550; Email: c.steel@reading.ac.uk
Craig Steel is conducting research aimed at developing effective psychological interventions for people diagnosed with severe mental health problems. His research involves collaboration with the National Health Service in order to conduct clinical trials within areas such as the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder co-morbid with schizophrenia. These trials have been funded by the National Institute of Health Research. He has a particular interest in the role of traumatic life events on the ability to regulate emotions and subsequent mental health problems.
Carien van Reekum
Associate Professor. Office: 1S30; Tel: 5556; Email: c.vanreekum@reading.ac.uk
Carien van Reekum is co-heading the Brain Emotion and Cognition Laboratory (BECLAB). Supported by funding from the EU and RCUK, her research focuses on the changes with age in central and peripheral profiles of emotion reactivity and regulation. Other interests include how emotion modulates attention. She is a member of the CINN, collaborates with members from the Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience who share her interest in emotion, with members from Perception and Action on cognition-emotion interaction, and with members from Language and Cognition who share her interest in ageing and cognition.
Tim Williams
Associate Professor, Honorary Visiting Fellow, Clinical Psychologist. Office: 296; Tel: 7510; Email: timothy.williams@reading.ac.uk
Tim Williams is interested in repetitive behaviours. These are a feature of a number of mental health problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). I have supervised a number of projects at undergraduate level on how nail biting (among other body focused repetitive behaviours) is affected by the environment and the extent of conscious control. Clinically my work is focused on developing improved intervention methods for OCD and trichotillomania. I use a cognitive behavioural framework to inform my work.

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