Psychology Colloquium: Affective Neuroscience, Professor Elaine Fox, University of Adelaide
Professor Elaine Fox, Head of School, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide
Elaine Fox, PhD, is a psychologist and author and became Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, Australia in early 2022. Originally from Dublin, most of her academic career has been in the UK. Following a 5-year period working at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand after her PhD studies in Dublin, she moved to the UK to take up a Senior Lectureship at the University of Essex in 1994. Promoted to Professor in 2000, she became the Head of the School of Psychology and Centre for Brain Science there from 2007 to 2011. She moved to take up a Professorship of Psychology and Affective Neuroscience at the University of Oxford in 2012 and became a Fellow at University College, one of Oxford’s oldest colleges shortly afterwards.
Elaine is a leading scholar on the science of resilience, wellbeing and mental health and her work was awarded with a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Investigator fellowship from 2013-2019 to set up a large study at the University of Oxford investigating why some people are emotionally vulnerable (to anxiety, depression, & addictions) while others are resilient. She was appointed to a national role by the UK Department of Research and Innovation in 2019 as the Impact & Public Engagement Co-ordinator for eight UKRI-funded Mental Health Networks, which she held alongside her Oxford Professorship until her move to Australia in February 2022.
Apart from her academic work, Elaine is an engaging writer and speaker with a passion for the science behind how our mind works. Her first book RAINY BRAIN SUNNY BRAIN describes the fascinating science and stories behind why some of us are optimistic and resilient while others take a more pessimistic slant on things. Translated into more than 20 languages, it is a bestseller in several countries. Her new book SWITCHCRAFT: Harnessing the Power of Mental Agility to Transform Your Life is being published worldwide in 2022. Switchcraft is a highly accessible introduction to the science of flexibility and explains why it so critical to become as mentally agile as we can. It is packed full of helpful ways to cope with a complex and uncertain world. Like having your own personal life coach, Switchcraft shows you how you can not only survive, but also thrive in a constantly changing and uncertain world.
The CogBIAS longitudinal study provides a rich dataset on mental health, wellbeing, and resilience through adolescence. Data was collected from a starting sample of 504 and a wide range of variables were assessed when adolescents were approximately 13 (n=504), 14.5 (n=450) and 16 (n=411) years of age. Investigations using growth mixture modelling revealed four distinct developmental trajectories for anxiety and depressive symptoms and we found that these trajectories were closely related to changes in cognitive biases, specifically interpretational and memory biases. Further analysis evaluated the role of cognitive biases in resilient functioning, which was measured in terms of ‘better than expected levels of functioning’ in response to significant adversity. Once again, cognitive factors were associated with resilient functioning. Specifically, selective biases in memory and resilient functioning were found to be reinforcing mechanisms across the different assessment points. Finally, a moderated network modelling analysis revealed that good mental health – flourishing – was associated with higher levels of positive memory and interpretation biases and with lower levels of negative memory biases. Of particular interest, network connectivity decreased with higher positive mental health ratings. We conclude that cognitive biases, negative and positive, are important emotion regulation mechanisms that underpin resilience, good mental health as well as anxiety and depression symptoms in a cohort of adolescents.
This is a Hybrid event so you can join in person or via the Webinar link below:
HEYDON LAURENCE LECTURE THEATRE 217 (DT ANDERSON) (You are encouraged to please wear a mask if attending in person)
Webinar Link: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/s/84533278727