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BA (Hons) PhD FBPS
Professor of Psychology & Affective Neuroscience
- Director of Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN)
- ERC Advanced Investigator
- Fellow of University College
My work focuses on the nature of human emotions and why people react so differently to the good and the bad things in life.
My work focuses on the nature of human emotions and why there is such a wide variety of response to the same environmental situation.
Our approach is to examine the subtle cognitive biases that are linked to emotional vulnerability on the one hand, and human resilience and mental wellbeing on the other. These “biases” are the brain's natural tendencies to tune into the affective environment.
In the past, my team's work has confirmed that emotional vulnerability is associated with very specific biases to selectively process negative, relative to positive information. We have also found that certain genes that influence brain chemicals can affect how open people are to learning about the emotional environment around them.
We are now exploiting these earlier findings in order to deepen our understanding of why some people are emotionally fragile and others are resilient and experience optimal mental health. In a programme of research funded by the European Research Council - The CogBIAS project - we are investigating the cognitive and genetic mechanisms underpinning why some people flourish and others struggle.
We currently have no vacancies for postdoctoral staff or DPhil students.
Child attention to pain and pain tolerance are dependent upon anxiety and attention control: An eye-tracking study.
Heathcote LC. et al, (2017), Eur J Pain, 21, 250 - 263
Negative Interpretation Bias and the Experience of Pain in Adolescents.
Heathcote LC. et al, (2016), J Pain, 17, 972 - 981
Differential sensitivity to the environment: Contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing
Fox E. and Beevers CG., (2016), Molecular Psychiatry
Rumination and postnatal depression: A systematic review and a cognitive model.
DeJong H. et al, (2016), Behav Res Ther, 82, 38 - 49
A Cognitive Model of Psychological Resilience
Parsons S. et al, (2016), Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 7, 296 - 310