Friday, 27 November 2015

News about Laila Al-Ayoubi's blog-style article for the Richard Benjamin Trust

Laila Al-Ayoubi has just finished writing a blog-style article for the Richard Benjamin Trust about the INSIGHT (INdividual SIGnals mHealth Technology) research. They're putting a book together for the public about the trust and the research they've funded. The book is due out in a year or so. Here's some information from Laila: 

There are over a billion people using Smartphones worldwide and excitement is growing among Psychiatrists about new ways to reach patient groups. Identifying patterns or personal 'relapse signatures' in a patients thoughts, behaviour and circumstances - even biology, can lead to new insight and inform meaningful change. The ‘INSIGHT’research group at Middlesex University has run its first feasibility study with a smartphone app and and paired-biowearable set up designed to support people stuck in a cycle of self harm.

Funded by the The Richard Benjamin Trust.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Opportunity for students to find out more about becoming a Psychologist

Andrew Christer from the BPS will be here to talk to students and answer any queries they have about becoming a psychologist. 

Date: Tuesday 1st December

Location: The foyer in Hatchcroft
Time: Between 10.30am and 3pm

Research Seminar: Alex Jones, Middlesex University

Date: Thursday 3rd December
Time: 16:00 - 17:00
Location: Barn 2

Title: Attention to the Sense of Touch - Neural Correlates and Behavioural Evidence

Dr Jones is a lecturer at Middlesex University London. Before joining the Psychology Department in 2013 he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Universite Paris Descartes. Prior to Paris he worked as a visiting lecturer and research fellow in London (City University, BPP). Jones has a BSc in Psychology (City University) and MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology (UCL). He received his PhD from City University London, where he is now also an honorary research fellow.  

Broadly, Dr Jones' research interests include attention, action, and multisensory integration, and using cognitive neuroscience techniques to investigate how the brain and behaviour relate. Focus has been on exploring how we select and attend to information constantly bombarding our senses. In particular how we process and attend to the sense of touch. Of interest has also been to explore how we process sensory information which is a consequence of our own actions (action prediction). His research has appeared in journal such as NeuroImage, Neuropsychologia, European Journal of Neuroscience, Biological Psychology, and Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.

AbstractThe sense of touch is imperative to cognition, development, and is implicated in how we perceive the world around us and how we interact with others. The skin, enveloping our bodies, is the largest human organ, and through sensory receptors it provides us with a vast amount of information about our immediate environment. Yet, compared to the domains of visual and auditory attention, relatively little research has focused on the somatosensory system and the body sense. We are constantly bombarded with a wealth of tactile information, such as from our clothes or the chair we sit upon, and cannot process all of this information simultaneously. Mechanisms of selective attention help to prioritize, predict and select information relevant to the situation, and to guide our behaviour appropriately. The research presented in this talk explores the question of how we selectively focus our attention to the sense of touch. Specifically, the talk will cover research on how top-down tactile attention (e.g., thinking about your left foot) and bottom-up tactile attention (e.g., a tap on the shoulder) is processed in the brain using electroencephalogram (EEG). 


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Visiting Speaker: Prof. Cathy Creswell, University of Reading.

Date: Thursday 26th November
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Location: C210

TitleBiases about biases : what do we really know about threat interpretation in childhood anxiety disorders

Cathy Creswell is a NIHR Research Professor at the University of Reading and an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Her research focuses on the development and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders, with a particular emphasis on improving outcomes from and access to evidence based treatments.

CBT is generally considered to be the treatment of choice with children with anxiety disorders, despite surprisingly little being known about what maintains anxiety in children. Treatments typically include a major focus on modifying  threatening interpretations, based on studies that have found that children and young people with anxiety disorders are more likely to interpret ambiguity  in a threatening way than non-anxious children. These studies (including our own) have typically included children and young people from a  broad age range and with a range of anxiety disorders. Furthermore few studies have examined causal influences of interpretation of ambiguity on anxiety. Our recent studies have raised a number of questions about the place of threat interpretation in models of childhood anxiety disorders and highlight the need to question our own biases about its central role.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Fiona Starr's exciting involvement with a BBC six-part factual entertainment series

Fiona Starr has been offering expertise and consultation to the BBC on a 6 part factual entertainment series about how children see the world. She was asked to get involved with generating  themes for each episode and scenarios that the programme makers could create for the children, aged 5-10 years, to encourage relevant, interesting and surprising behaviour. It was great fun and also really interesting. The series is due to come out some time next year.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Research Seminar: Lisa Marzano, Middlesex University

Date: Thursday 19th November
Time: 16:00 - 17:00
Location: Barn 2

Title: The Application of mHealth to Mental Health: Opportunities and Challenges

Lisa Marzano is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University, specialising in suicide and mental health research.  She currently leads the QUEST study (, a project commissioned by Samaritans to inform new approaches to suicide prevention; the INSIGHT collaboration (, which is concerned with the application of technological innovations to mental health research and clinical practice; and research with colleagues at the Glasgow University Suicidal Behaviour Research Lab investigating public attitudes towards self-injury. Further areas of interest include suicide in prisons, gatekeeper training for emergency services, and portrayal of suicidal behaviour in traditional and ‘new’ media.

Smartphones and other wearable digital technologies are increasingly able to gather real-time behavioural, physiological, and psychosocial data in relatively precise and unobtrusive ways. This includes information about people’s moods, cognitions and activities, as well as automated data about their whereabouts, behaviour and physiological states (including GPS location, physical activity, sleep, heart rate and heart rate variability).
Drawing on recent and ongoing research, I will discuss the potential of mobile health applications (‘mHealth apps’) and self-tracking devices, both as data gathering tools in mental health research, and potential adjuncts to traditional intervention methods (e.g. for personalised mood monitoring and bio-feedback mechanisms). The potential risks and key challenges associated with applying mHealth to mental health will also be discussed.