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Dr Emma Palmer-Cooper BSc, MRes, PhD, AFBPsS

Lecturer in Psychology

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Dr Emma Palmer-Cooper is a Lecturer in Psychology within the Centre for Innovation in Mental Health and leads the 'PSYC1021 Psychology of Mental Health' module. I am also Deputy Director of the MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology. My research primarily focuses on metacognition in relation to anomalous experiences, neurocognition, and psychopathology.

I am also interested in Public Engagement, with particular focus on involving patients and the public in the design of psychological and health-care research.

I received my BSc in Psychology from Cardiff University and a Masters by Research (MRes) in Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of Birmingham. I received my PhD in Psychosis Studies from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience. I was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford's Department of Psychiatry with Prof Belinda Lennox, working on Autoimmunity in Psychosis.

Research interests

I currently have two distinct, ongoing programmes of research.

Anomalous sensory experiences and cognitive neuropsychology
Current research projects involve measuring metacognition using a variety of assessments in the general population, those who have unusual sensory experiences, and those who have experience of psychosis or schizophrenia. Work involves both online and offline cognitive measures.

A developing research programme focuses on wellbeing
One arm of this programme investigates the relationship between wellbeing and pursuing creative activities. I am currently Co-Investigator on a multi-site study funded by the British Academy, investigating the relationship between crafting, heritage and both personal and social wellbeing for survivors of conflict in Iraq. The second arm of this programme investigates student wellbeing, in relation to hobbies, academic success and COVID-19.

Research Projects

Metacognition means ‘thinking about thinking’ and refers to self-awareness of our own thoughts and other cognitive processes.

Metacognition and Psychosis
Research has shown that metacognition tends to be lower than average in individuals currently experiencing psychosis, and this is associated with recovery and general functioning. In clinical fields metacognition tends to refer to ‘insight’ into illness, but can refer more broadly to self-awareness and objective appraisal of task performance. My research focuses on the different methods of measuring metacognition, and how this relates to functioning in people with psychosis.

Current projects:

International Consortium for Hallucinations Research Metacognition working group

Investigating online assessments of metacognition in clinical population, including in the moment assessments (EMA), objective in the moment metacognitive assessments of cognitive performance and self-reported metacognitive beliefs.

Collaborative Meta-analysis of Metacognition in psychotic illness

A large-scale meta-analysis will investigate the association between metacognition and clinical outcomes in psychosis, and inform model building.

Metacognition and anomalous experiences
There are a number of people who experience unusual sensory phenomena in the general population. This program of research aims to investigate the metacognitive abilities of these people and investigate how this might differ from clinical groups, with a view to understanding how to make clinical experiences less distressing.

Here, anomalous sensory experiences refers to Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, Tulpamancy and Game Transfer Phenomenon.

Current projects:

Early Career Hallucination Research Group Metacognition working group

Investigating the association between metacognition unusual sensory experiences in non-clinical hallucinators

The relationship between sensory experiences and the exposure to passive and interactive media

The association between metacognition unusual sensory experiences in people who engage with online media.

Metacognition in Motor sport
Elite motor sport drivers have to execute a number of complexed cognitive tasks whilst driving.

Measuring Metacognition in Motor racing drivers

Research will investigate the metacognitive abilities of motor sport drivers at various levels of expertise and how this is associated with driving style.

Creativity and wellbeing

Craft and wellbeing
Many reports and media publications make the link between craft and wellbeing without a strong academic, peer-reviewed evidence. There have been no empirical studies conducted to support them.

Crafting Heritage for Well-being in Iraq – British Academy Funded Project 

This project will explore the nexus of crafting, heritage and well-being for survivors of conflict in Iraq, which has one psychiatric hospital for 38 million people. It brings together a team with interdisciplinary expertise in arts, heritage and psychology in the UK and Iraq. The project will be co-produced, driven by the team and local participants in collaboration, to ensure the outcomes are relevant and beneficial to Iraq and reflect Iraq’s complex, often intersectional, societal needs. A key aim is to create a robust evidence-base for arts and crafts in improving personal and social well-being. We wish to demonstrate to Iraqi stakeholders and policy makers that such reflective practices play a critical role in fragile post-conflict contexts. We want to determine specific ways that engaging with heritage through craft has potential to rebuild the personal and social well-being and dignity that are key to underpinning sustainable, inclusive peace in Iraq.

Craft and wellbeing in the general population

In collaboration with University of Southampton’s Health Sciences Occupational Therapy team, and members of the public, we are investigating the effects of crafting and mindful colouring on wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as the effects on student wellbeing.

Colour and wellbeing

In collaboration with Dr Christoph Witzel in the Centre for Perception and Cognition (CPC) I will be investigating the relationship between colour preference and mental health.

Music and wellbeing

In collaboration with ROLI, Dr Valerie Brandt and I are researching how engaging with music in different ways might influence wellbeing in the general population.

Impact of engagement with music on wellbeing before and during the Covid-19 lockdown

We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate the relationship between engagement with music and wellbeing in a sample of adults before the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic (in 2019) and during the initial lockdown restrictions in March-June 2020.

Impact of engagement with music on wellbeing during childhood and emerging adulthood

We will investigate how music engagement at a young age may predict wellbeing during adolescence and young adulthood, using the Existing Millennium Cohort Study database, and through experimental work.

Research group

Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (CiMH)

Research project(s)

Psychological approaches in Bipolar Disorder

This programme of research aims to identify the psychological mechanisms associated with Bipolar Disorder. This includes looking at the importance of factors such as self-esteem and dysfunctional assumptions.  

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Dr Emma Palmer-Cooper
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