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Dr Valerie Catherine Brandt MPhil, Diploma, PhD (Dr.rer.nat.)


Dr Valerie Catherine Brandt's photo

Dr Valerie Brandt is a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Southampton.

Can tics and Tourette’s syndrome be viewed as a sensory disorder (tics are driven by premonitory urges) rather than a motor disorder?

Why do tics persist only in a small number of children who are diagnosed with a tic disorder and what can we learn from this?

During my Diploma studies in Hamburg, Germany, I completed an MPhil at the University of Cambridge in 2010 and then returned to Hamburg to finish my Diploma degree. I received my PhD (with honours – summa cum laude) from the University zu Luebeck (Germany) in 2015, working with Prof. Alexander Muenchau to apply and test psychological information processing theories in relation with Tourette’s syndrome. I have also started part-time clinical training in 2014.

Research interests

I am mainly interested in tics and Tourette’s syndrome. Tics are simple, sudden and repetitive movements or vocalisations and are common in children.

My research covers various aspects of Tics. I am interested in basic processes, for instance, how motor learning and imitation processes are affected by having tics or how attention to different aspects of tics can temporarily alter symptom severity in patients.

Another fascinating aspect of Tourette’s syndrome is the finding that tics are not entirely involuntary phenomena. Patients often describe that they tic in response to an increasing urge to tic. I am interested in studying these premonitory urges in more detail (including neural aspects, using TMS, EEG or fMRI) in patients with tics but also in related disorders, e.g. obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Lastly, I am interested in understanding how current (behavioural) therapeutic methods work and in developing new therapeutic methods for tics.

Research Projects

Finding correlates of premonitory urges in Tourette patients (using fMRI, pupil width)

The effects of attention modulation on tic and urge severity

Habitual and synaptic learning processes in patients with tics 

Comparing different forms of behavioural inhibition and control in children with tics (using psychological behavioural paradigms)

Investigating mechanisms of change and their neural underpinnings in patients with tic disorders receiving habit reversal training

MRI scanning costs to develop a novel brain imaging analysis approach to investigate urges in patients with Tourette syndrome

The relationship between head injury and aggression in minors over time

Neural correlates of the urge to tic
Valerie Brandt is receiving AMS Springboard funding to conduct a study investigating the neural correlates of the urge to tic before and after behavioural therapy in patients with Tourette syndrome. This study is conducted in collaboration with Tobias Feldmann-Wustefeld.

The relationship between conduct problems and head injuries across development
Hannah Carr, supervised by Valerie Brandt, James Hall, and Hedwig Eisenbarth is conducting a PhD, investigating the relationship between head injuries and conduct problems in children 9 months to 17 years old, using the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). The project is funded by the SCDTP.

The relationship between ADHD and physical illness
Samuele Cortese and Valerie Brandt are conducting several studies investigating the relationship between ADHD and a number of physical illnesses, utilizing meta-analytic approaches and secondary data analysis of cohort studies.

Music and wellbeing

In collaboration with ROLI, Dr Emma Palmer-Cooper 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. This work is associated with an SCDTP funded PhD studentship (to be filled).

Research group

Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (CiMH)

Programme director of the "foundations in clinical psychology" MSc programme

Chair of the CIMH meetings

Head of the TMS lab

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Book Chapters


I am the module lead for Current Issues in Clinical Psychology (PSYC3002)

I also teach on the following modules: Current Topics in Developmental Psychopathology (PSYC28077), tutoring (PSYC1005)

Research project support for MSc Foundations of Clinical Psychology students

Dr Valerie Catherine Brandt
Building 44 Highfield Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 44/4059

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