Research project

Autonomic Arousal, Emotional Regulation, and Attentional Bias in Depression

Project overview

Depression does not involve feelings of sadness only but also encompasses a complex web of emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions. This study will examine how people with depression regulate their emotions, and how their bodies physiologically respond to, focus on, or avoid certain information. To achieve this, the research team will sample adults from Malaysia with the outlook of gaining insights that may differ from most Western research, given the diverse and rich blend of cultures and ethnicities that this group represents. This approach will offer a unique backdrop to understanding how cultural and societal norms can influence depression and its features, including emotion regulation. The project’s overarching objectives are twofold. We aim to better understand how people handle emotions and how the attentional allocation towards visual stimuli with different emotional valence differs in those with a diagnosis of depression compared to those without. We also intend to deepen our insights into the body’s physical response when dealing with emotional situations by looking at heart rate variability. The findings have the potential to reshape how we approach mental health treatments for conditions like depression, anxiety, and psychosis. We aim to develop new tools to help identify symptoms earlier and customize treatment plans, especially considering the cultural and regional differences between Malaysia and the UK.


Lead researcher

Dr Alessio Bellato Ph.D., MSc, BSc, FHEA, PGCHE


Research interests

  • Emotion regulation & dysregulationAutonomic arousalInterventions for improving self-regulationHRV-biofeedbackADHD & autismDigital interventions
Connect with Alessio

Research outputs