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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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Developmental

Developmental group investigates development of social cognition and decision making during human adolescence. The group is led by Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

Group Leader

 

s.blakemore@ucl.ac.uk

+44 20 7679 1131

Sarah-Jayne Blackemore

Developmental Research

The main focus of our research is the development of social cognition and decision making during human adolescence. We use the converging techniques of behavioural studies, eye tracking, motion capture and sMRI and fMRI neuroimaging.

Group Members

Post-Doctoral Research Fellows

Saz Ahmed 

Saz Ahmed
saz.ahmed@ucl.ac.uk 

Dr Saz Ahmed completed her PhD in Psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, during which she focussed on the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying implicit and explicit emotion regulation across adults and adolescents, and how they vary with aggression. In the Blakemore Lab, Saz is working as a postdoctoral research associate on the MYRIAD project. This is a Wellcome Trust-funded project assessing the feasibility of teaching mindfulness in schools, and the ways in which mindfulness might promote mental health and resilience in adolescents. For more information about this project, please visit http://www.oxfordmindfulness.org/learn/myriad/

Gabriele Chierchia 

Gabriele Chierachia
g.chierchia@ucl.ac.uk 

Dr. Gabriele Chierchia’s research focuses on the neural and cognitive bases of social decision making. Throughout his PhD (with Prof. Coricelli at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of Trento) and his post-doctoral research (with Prof. Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences), Dr. Chierchia ’s work takes a multi-disciplinary approach to decision making, by integrating insights and methodologies from behavioural economics, social psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience.

Emma Kilford

Emma Kilford
 

 

e.kilford.12@ucl.ac.uk

Emma Kilford carried out her PhD research at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience under the supervision of Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Dr Vaughan Bell, funded by a UCL Four-Year MRC Studentship in Mental Health. Her PhD research examined the development of cognitive control and its integration with social cognitive and motivational-affective processing during adolescence, using a combination of genetic, cognitive and computational research techniques. Emma is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate on the project 'developing a scalable treatment for depression in rural South Africa', funded by a GCRF Global Impact Acceleration award. 

Independent Research Fellows 

Susanne Schweizer

Susanne Schweizeri
s.schweizer@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Susanne Schweizer is a Sir Henry Wellcome fellow investigating the development of affect regulatory processes in adolescence. She is particularly interested in exploring the role they play in the onset and maintenance of mental health problems across the lifespan. Before joining the Blakemore Lab she earned an MSc from the University of Maastricht, spent time at the late Professor Nolen-Hoeksema Depression and Cognition Program at Yale University and then was awarded a Gates Scholarship to complete her PhD at the University of Cambridge. After her PhD she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, where she was a member of Dr Tim Dalgleish's Cognition, Emotion and Mental Health Programme.

PhD Students

Jack Andrews

Jack Andrews
jack.andrews.16@ucl.ac.uk

Jack studied Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, completing his final year research project within Professor Emily Holmes’s group at the MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit. He has also previously worked as a summer Research Assistant at Stanford University’s Mood and Anxiety Disorders Laboratory. Jack is currently on the UCL Four-Year MRC PhD Programme in Neuroscience and Mental Health under the supervision of Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. His research focuses on adolescent social cognition and its relationship with social group dynamics and emotion. 

Research Assistants

Cait Griffin

Cait Griffin
cait.griffin@ucl.ac.uk

Cait completed her MSc in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology at The University of Edinburgh, during which time her research focused on emotional development in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She has previously worked as an assistant psychologist in The Rutland Centre, Dublin. At UCL, Cait is currently working as a research assistant on the MYRIAD project. This project will assess whether mindfulness training for teenagers has the potential to improve their resilience and overall mental health.

Jovita Leung

Jovita Leung
tung.leung.14@ucl.ac.uk

Jovita completed her master’s degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health at UCL and has a particular interest in education and mental health. She previously worked in the Psychological Medicine Team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and at the Institute for Child Health, UCL. Currently, she is working as a research assistant on the MYRIAD project and other adolescent development projects with Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore.

Master Students 

Maximilian Scheuplein

Max
 

Maximilian completed his bachelor´s degree in Psychology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankfurt where he worked with Dr. Dejan Draschkow and Professor Melissa Võ in unraveling the effect of visual search and scene grammar violation on memory performance using virtual reality. During his time in Frankfurt he worked as a Research Assistant in Professor Melissa Võ´s Scene Grammar Lab.
Currently, Maximilian is a student in the MSc Cognitive Neuroscience programme at UCL. In the Blakemore Lab he hopes to gain more knowledge about identity development during childhood and adolescence. Under the supervision of Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Dr. Lucy Foulkes his research project will focus on perspective taking in relationship with the sense of self in adolescent development.

Affiliate Lab Members and Collaborators 

Vaughan Bell

Vaughan Bell
vaughan.bell@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Vaughan Bell is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Division of Psychiatry, Faculty of Brain Sciences, and is a Principal Clinical Psychologist in the Psychological Interventions Clinical for outpatients with psychosis at the Maudsley Hospital. His research focuses on the cognitive neuropsychiatry of psychosis, delusions and hallucinations.

Iroise Dumontheil

Iroise
i.dumontheil@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Iroise Dumontheil is since Oct 2012 a Lecturer at the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London. She previously spent time as a postdoc in the labs of John Duncan at the MRC-CBU in Cambridge, Torkel Klingberg at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and here in the Developmental Group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL. The main topic of her research is the development and adult function of social and executive functions associated with the rostral prefrontal cortex. To investigate this, she combines different methods: behavioural assessments, genetics, and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Iroise was awarded the BPS Spearman Medal 2015 for her early career research. 

Lucy Foulkes
Lucy Foulkes
l.foulkes@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Lucy Foulkes completed her PhD in Mental Health at UCL, during which she focussed on individual differences in social reward processing and their association with clinical disorders. In Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s lab, Lucy is working as a postdoctoral research associate on the MYRIAD project. This is a Wellcome Trust-funded project assessing the feasibility of teaching mindfulness in schools, and the ways in which mindfulness might promote mental health and resilience in adolescents. More information about this project.

Anne-Lise Goddings

Anne-Lise
algoddings@doctors.org.uk

Dr Anne-Lise Goddings is a Postdoctoral Clinical Training fellow at the UCL Institute of Child Health. After completing her medical training at Cambridge University and UCL, Dr Goddings has undertaken her paediatric clinical training in London alongside pursuing her research interests in Adolescent Health and Development. In 2015, she completed her PhD at UCL focusing on the role of puberty in adolescent brain development, supervised by Professor Russell Viner at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Dr Goddings was awarded the 2016 British Psychology Society Doctoral Award for her PhD research. Dr Goddings currently collaborates with leading groups around the world analysing longitudinal datasets of adolescent neurodevelopment and relate structural and functional MRI changes in the brain to changes in behaviour over this time. She continues to work as a practicing clinician in Central London alongside conducting her research.

Anne-Laura van Harmelen

Anne-Laura
 

Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen is a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at the University of Cambridge where she investigates the cognitive and neurobiological effects of child maltreatment. Anne-Laura completed her PhD in December 2013 at Leiden University in the Netherlands under the supervision of Bernet Elzinga. After finishing her PhD she moved to Cambridge to work with Professor Ian Goodyer at the Department of Psychiatry. During this time, she was awarded a two year Rubicon Fellowship from the Netherlands Society for Scientific Research.

Kathryn Mills

Kathryn Mills
kathryn.l.mills@gmail.com

Dr Kate Mills is a postdoc in the Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab at University of Oregon, working with Jenn Pfeifer and Nick Allen. Her current work focuses on examining longitudinal brain development in relation to mental health and social cognition in adolescent girls. She was previously a graduate student in the Blakemore Lab as part of the NIMH-UCL joint doctoral program in neuroscience, and completed her PhD in 2015. Kate was awarded the British Neuroscience Association Graduate Prize 2015 for her PhD research.

Stefano Palminteri

Stefano
s.palminteri@ucl.ac.uk

During his PhD thesis at the Brain and Spine Institute (Paris) and his first post-doc at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris) Dr Stefano Palminteri studied reinforcement learning and decision making. More precisely he focused on the description of the computational, neuro-anatomical and neuro-chemical bases underlying these processes in healthy subjects (basic neuroscience) and if and how an impairment in these processes could explain neuropsychiatric symptoms (computational psychiatry). Dr Palminteri’s research is highly interdisciplinary and involves fMRI, behavioural testing of neurological patients (Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, Tourette's syndrome, brain tumours) and psychiatric patients (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and computational modelling. Dr Palminteri worked as a Marie Curie Research Fellow in the Blakemore Lab from 2014-2017. He explored the development of reinforcement learning and decision-making during adolescence. 

Marteen Speekenbrink

Maarten
 

Dr Maarten Speekenbrink is a Lecturer in Mathematical Psychology at the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, University College London. His main research interests are in the areas of human learning and decision making. His work generally involves a combination of mathematical modelling and behavioural experiments. He also has a strong interest in psychological methodology, including the application of mixed-effects and dynamic (state-space) models, Bayesian statistics, and optimal experimental design.