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Research Fellows Directory

Emily Holmes

Dr Emily Holmes

Research Fellow


University of Oxford

Research summary

I study how the mind works. I am most interested in emotion, and understanding emotional processes better so that we can develop better treatments for people with mental health problems. I have established a laboratory and team which includes neuroscientists and experiment psychologists as well as clinicians.

My clinical expertise is in trauma memory and anxiety, with current work also reaching into depression and bipolar disorder. The key psychological processes I seek to understand are mental imagery and cognitive biases. For example, I research “flashbacks” (sudden, unwanted traumatic memories that spring to mind) in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Another example, is that we also study the negative interpretation biases suffered by people with depression – seeing a glass as half empty rather than half full.

I use experimental psychology techniques to increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying psychological disorders. Cognitive psychology is a rapidly developing science with rigorous techniques to investigate mental processes – from laboratory experiments to brain scanning. Our projects aim to test recent theory, which will in turn deliver information to drive future cognitive behaviour therapy ("CBT") innovations, informed by basic science. Thus, my research uses an interplay between experimental studies in the laboratory to model processes in healthy volunteers as well as work with clinical samples.

Given that 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health problem at some stage in their life, our treatment innovation research promises a direct benefit to improving health in society. It is also extremely fascinating to better understand how our minds work.

Grants awarded

Psychological Processes in Depression and Suicidality: Cognitive Bias & Imagery

Scheme: Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship

Dates: Nov 2005 - Apr 2010

Value: £229,237.14

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