Biography

My early years were spent chasing tennis balls across the manicured lawns of east Devon, but when a family friend experienced a stroke, my interest switched from sport to psychology.

I moved east to complete my PhD in Brighton, on the topic of reward-seeking behaviour, and then worked for a year as an assistant neuropsychologist.

Now part of the Neurodegeneration Network at UEA, my focus is the early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis of dementias, with a particular interest in social, emotional, and motivational functioning.

Academic Background

My PhD research investigated the interplay between cognition, emotion, and motivation, using the pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets as a real-world application.

I separated the effects of the cigarette packet, as a cue for nicotine availability, from the effects of the health warning, as an aversive emotional image. I showed that knowledge of the association between reward-related cues (e.g. a cigarette packet) and their associated reward (e.g. nicotine) was necessary to initiate reward-seeking (e.g. smoking). I also showed that an aversive stimulus (e.g. health warning) reduced the effort participants would expend to gain a reward (e.g. nicotine).

These results suggest that awareness of the relationship between environmental cues (e.g. cigarette packets) and nicotine is necessary for the cues to trigger smoking. However, people may take fewer puffs if they encounter unpleasant images whilst smoking.

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