Dr Jennifer Cook (PI)


Jen completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Bath in 2007. She then completed a Wellcome Trust-funded PhD in Neuroscience at University College London (2007-2011). This programme included a 3-year project, in Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s lab, investigating “Action observation and imitation in typical individuals and adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions”. Following this Jennifer  joined Professor Barbara Sahakian’s group at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge (2011-2012). In Cambridge she researched novel methods of cognitive training and was also a Research Fellow of Magdalene College. Subsequently Jen moved to the Donder’s Institute in The Netherlands where she began to study social learning with Professor Roshan Cools. In 2014 Jennifer took up a lectureship at City University London where she continued to study social learning and began to extend these studies into the field of autism research. Jen has been a Birmingham Fellow at the University of Birmingham since September 2015.


Dr Sophie Sowden (Postdoc)

staffid_sophiesowden.jpgSophie completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Geoff Bird at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London supported by a MRC studentship. Her research to date has concerned the neurocognitive basis of social behaviour, in particular how the ability to distinguish between the ‘self’ and ‘other(s)’, termed self-other control, may contribute to a range of social cognitive abilities. As a keen ballroom dancer, she has always been fascinated by the link between movement and cognition and therefore her current research focus is on understanding the relationship between motor and social behaviour and what this can reveal about individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parkinson’s disease.


Miss Alicia Rybicki (PhD student)

Alicia_picture_labAlicia graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience. She has since worked as a research assistant in a number of roles in the general field of cognitive neuroscience. She assisted in trialling a balance and movement intervention for older adults (VERVE project) in Trinity College Dublin, before investigating consumer decision-making with the Price Lab, ESRI, Dublin. Recently, she acted as a research assistant on a novel project aiming to develop a tablet-based movement intervention for children with ASD.

In the Cook Lab Alicia will utilise computational approaches to understand the relationship between movement and social learning in autism spectrum disorders, using kinematic tracking, computational modelling and pharmacological interventions. Alicia is supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), a BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme.


Miss Bianca Schuster (PhD student)


Bianca completed her MSc in psychology with a specialisation in Theory of Mind and
Neuroscience at the University of Salzburg, Austria. She has since worked as a behavioural therapist with children on the autism spectrum and as a research assistant supporting a project on early biomarkers for ASD and ADHD at the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. Her PhD project is funded by the European Research Council and focuses on how a person’s ability to understand others is informed by their own movements and what role the neurotransmitter dopamine plays in this relationship. In the Cook Lab she will investigate this using neuromodulation and behavioural interventions in healthy volunteers and clinical populations such as people with ASD.


Miss Lydia Hickman (MSc student)

Lydia Photo.JPG

Lydia completed her undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford in 2018. During her time at Oxford, she assisted with research in the Brain and Behaviour Research Group, Language and Cognitive Development Research Group, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is now undertaking an MSc by Research in Psychology supervised by Jen, focusing on the relationships between motor function, social cognition, alexithymia and interoception.




Miss Leila Iliffe (PhD student, co-supervised with Dr Sarah Beck and Dr Danielle Ropar)

Miss Laura Groves (PhD student, co-supervised with Professor Chris Oliver and Dr Jo Moss)



Dr Rosy Edey (PhD student, co-supervised with Dr Clare Press)

Dr Tilman Lesch (PhD student, co-supervised with Professor Barbara Sahakian)

Dr Supriya Malik (postdoc)

Ms Katherine Ellis (postdoc)



Dr Clare Press, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK

Dr Geoff Bird, University of Oxford, UK

Professor Roshan Cools, Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging, The Netherlands

Dr Hanneke den Ouden, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, The Netherlands

Professor Gene Robinson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Dr Paul O’Reilly, King’s College London, UK

Dr Sebastian Gaigg, City, University of London, UK

Dr Eduardo Alonso, City, University of London, UK

Dr Elliot Ludvig, Warwick University, UK