Dr Jennifer Cook (PI) – @Jennifer_L_Cook


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 and is also Associate Editor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience for Royal Society Open Science (

Miss Lydia Hickman (PhD student) – @LydiaJHickman

23B4B3DB-366A-4A5E-98ED-00F064FAF3D5_1_105_cLydia graduated from 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. Lydia joined the Cook Lab in 2018 as an MSc by Research student focusing on the relationships between different measures of interoceptive ability. She is now completing a PhD supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), a BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme. Her PhD aims to explore the fundamental biological mechanisms underlying motor function and social cognition in the context of autism and Parkinson’s.

Mr Connor Keating (PhD student) – @ConnorTKeating

72B9IZJK_400x400Connor completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Birmingham in 2019. Whilst completing his degree, Connor worked as a Research Assistant in the Cook Lab and assisted with our research investigating facial movement kinematics. Connor is now completing a PhD supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) doctoral development programme. His PhD aims to explore the causes and consequences of deficits in social cognition within clinical populations with reference to motor function and interoception.

Given his experience volunteering with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Connor has a great interest in the relationship between movement and social ability in those with ASD. 

Miss Molly Gracey (PhD student) – @MollyFGracey

IMG_1585Molly completed her MSci in Pharmacology at the University of Manchester in 2020. Her Master’s degree involved researching the effects of exercise on rat models of schizophrenia, with a focus on the cognitive deficits that occur in schizophrenia. She has an interest in studying cognitive symptoms in both neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders. Molly is now completing a PhD supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), a BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme. Her PhD aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of the role that dopamine plays in social cognition. These results will have important implications for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.

Dr Alicia Rybicki (Research Fellow) – @neuralicia


Alicia completed a PhD in Psychology from the University of Birmingham in 2022, supervised by Dr Jennifer Cook. Her research was supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP), a BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme, and utilised computational approaches to understand motor and social learning, using computational modelling, neurogenetics and pharmacological interventions.

Alicia is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cook Lab. Her current research investigates social learning using behavioural and computational measures.

Dr Hélio Clemente José Cuve (Research Fellow) – @HCuve

Helio St Johns Portrait 2

Hélio completed his PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford in 2021, supervised by Prof Geoff Bird and supported by a Medical Sciences Division Studentship jointly awarded by the Clarendon Fund, and Kendrew Fund (St Johns College). His research seeks to understand the socio-cognitive mechanisms that support typical and atypical face-to-face interactions abilities. Specifically, the ability to access the inner world of others’ emotions, thoughts, and mental states by observing and responding to their behaviour (gaze, face/body movement, kinematics, etc.).

In 2022, Hélio joined the University of Birmingham after being awarded the first Experimental Psychology Society Postdoctoral Fellowship. In collaboration with Dr Jen Cook and Prof Rachael Jack, his new work will develop a formal ‘spatiotemporal face-space’, a theoretical model to accounts and explains the dimensions that allow the perception and signalling of rich, dynamic social cues via face movements. Hélios future work seeks to integrate experimental research on social cognition, face/body movement, vision, and action to understand how people successfully navigate face-to-face interactions in real-world social networks (groups) and hope to generate insights that may help develop interventions for those who struggle (e.g., people with autism, depression).

During his free time, Hélio is passionate about music creation, with a background in sound engineering, he enjoys time with synthesizers, drum machines, Ableton and gadgets with shiny buttons.

Mr Dagmar Scott Fraser (Research Associate / PhD Student) – @dagmarfraser

Screenshot 2020-03-31 at 20.28.25

Dagmar Fraser holds a BEng(Hons) in Electronic Engineering and a MSc(Res) in Pattern Analysis & Neural Networks.  Dagmar developed neural network image classifiers in industry, before exploring spiking in low-level auditory processing as Research Assistant, at Stirling University. He joined the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham in 2007, as a Research Technician in the Sensorimotor Neuroscience Lab. There he examined synchrony in human movement, and as Research Fellow in Behavioural Synchrony 2014-15.  He continues at the School as Research Technician, at the Centre for Human Brain Health.

In 2019-2021 Dagmar seconded as Research Programmer to the Cook Lab, developing experiments and analyses to characterise kinematics across neurodiverse and drug intervention cohorts. In September 2022 Dagmar will re-join the Cook Lab as Doctoral Researcher and Research Associate.   Dagmar will critically examine the Two Thirds Power Law.  This apparently universal Law relates the speed and curvature of biological movement, from bumblebees to humans. His work will characterise subtle variations of this Power Law, across lifespan, and neurotypes with motor differences.

Dr Lizzie Farrow (Research Fellow)

316836185_1603378746760889_7864705223890090760_nAfter completing a BSc in Physics and then an MA in Psychology at the University of Birmingham, Lizzie undertook a PhD in Psychology in Birmingham with the supervision of Dr Stephane De Brito. During the PhD she also spent time living in Germany and working with collaborators in Universitäts Klinikum Frankfurt at Goethe University. Her PhD research was supported by the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) and the work in Germany was supported by a short-term research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). MIBTP is a BBSRC-funded doctoral training programme which also involved specific training on statistics and computational analysis and masterclasses in practical bioscientific experimental techniques at Leicester and Warwick Universities. Lizzie’s PhD research involved analysing clinical, genetic and neuroimaging data from the FEMNAT-CD study in order to investigate the genetic, epigenetic and neuroimaging markers associated with conduct disorder and callous-unemotional traits in female adolescents.

Lizzie is currently working part-time as a postdoctoral researcher in the Cook Lab and spends the rest of her time working as an Assistant Psychologist at St Andrews Healthcare, Birmingham. Lizzie is interested in research into the biological mechanisms and neural correlates that underlie differences in socio-emotional functioning (particularly in relation to anti-social behaviour) and how this knowledge can inform clinical practice in psychiatric patients with complex needs and/or forensic histories.

Holly O’Donoghue (Lab Manager)

Holly recently gained a master’s in Neuroimaging from Cardiff University alongside her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Bangor University in 2016. During this time, she investigated the grey and white matter changes associated with cognition and aging using VBM. Holly started working in the Cook Lab as a Lab Manager in 2022.


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)

Miss Lucy Licence (PhD student co-supervised with Dr Caroline Richards)


Dr Sophie Sowden (former Postdoc) – @Sophie_Sowden

StaffID_SophieSowden_2021Sophie 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. Sophie completed a 3 year postdoc in the Cook Lab and is now a Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham.

Dr Bianca Schuster (former PhD student) – @BiancaASchuster


Bianca completed her ERC-funded Ph.D. project at the Cook Lab in December 2021. In her Ph.D. she used behavioural experiments in combination with psychopharmacology to investigate how a person’s ability to understand others is informed by their own movements and what role the neurotransmitter dopamine plays in this relationship. Bianca is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan), exploring how movement differences between autistic and non-autistic people and Japanese and British cultures affect their bi-directional understanding.

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

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

Dr Supriya Malik (former postdoc)

Ms Katherine Ellis (former 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