The focus of our research is on understanding the mechanistic interplay between the social, cognitive, affective, and neurocognitive factors implicated in the development and persistence antisocial and aggressive behaviour. A second strand of our research is to examine those aspects among youths who have experienced early adversity. A common goal across these two strands of research is to understand how environmental and individual factors interact throughout the lifespan to increase risks for poor outcomes or promote resilience.
Our research uses different scientific approaches such as clinical interviews, cognitive testing, structural and functional neuroimaging, and more recently psychophysiology, genetics and neuroimaging genetics. We collaborate with clinicians, social workers and educators to inform the focus of our research as well as to increase its potential translational and policy impact.
Members of our lab are currently being involved in two large scale studies:
FemNAT-CD – Neurobiology and Treatment of Adolescent Female Conduct Disorder: The Central Role of Emotion Processing
This is an exciting European project that aims to understand the causes of sex differences in behaviour. FemNAT-CD is a multi-disciplinary study that is recruiting 1,840 children and teenagers aged from 9 to 18 years from across Europe (including the UK, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and Hungary). The project examines similarities and differences between boys and girls in brain structure and function, hormone levels, genetics, emotion recognition and regulation, and physiological activity. We are currently conducting interviews with children and their parents to ask about the child’s health and behaviour, and trying to understand the impact of environmental factors on well-being. The study is funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Health programme, and involves scientific collaboration between 13 Universities and clinics across Europe. The project is coordinated by Professor Christine Freitag from the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.
THE BIRMINGHAM GENETIC (BIG) COHORT
Together with the School of Psychology we are building a large database of healthy participants from young adults through to elderly people who are being genotyped for key genetics polymorphisms known to influence behaviour, emotional and cognitive processes. These participants complete questionnaires indexing known environmental risk factors for psychopathology, key psychological constructs of interests as well as computerized tasks probing emotional and cognitive functioning. A central goal of this project is to examine the main effects of genetic variations and how they interact with environmental risk factors in healthy individuals to predict behavioural, emotional and cognitive functioning across the lifespan. This project is currently being funded by the University of Birmingham.
Over the years, our research has generously been funded by the following funding bodies and institutions: