I played outdoors whilst growing up in 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 diagnosis and prognosis of dementias, with a particular interest in social and emotional functioning.
My PhD research investigated the utility of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets. I separated the effects of the cigarette packet as a positive signal 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 emotional response to a reward-related cue reduced the effort participants would expend to gain a reward. These results suggest that understanding the relationship between environmental triggers (e.g. cigarette smoke) and nicotine availability is necessary before people will light a new cigarette. However, people may take fewer puffs if they encounter unpleasant images whilst smoking.
I'm currently a Research Associate within the Neurodegeneration Network at UEA. I gather behavioural, neuropsychological, and neurological information from patients with a recent diagnosis of dementia, and track any changes in these measures over time. I have a particular interest in characterising social and emotional functioning, as well as contrasting these abilities across different forms of dementia. The aim of my work is to improve diagnostic and prognostic accuracy, to facilitate patient and family support.