Principal Investigator

Becky is a Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge and a Senior Affiliated Scientist at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. She is also Royal Society Wellcome Trust Henry Dale Fellow, Autistica Future Research Leader and Principal Investigator of the PaL Lab. 

She received a first class honours degree in Psychology & Philosophy from the University of Glasgow (2002-2006), before completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge (2006-2010). Her PhD was supervised by the late Dr Andrew Calder, and investigated adaptive gain control mechanisms and top-down processing in social cognition. As a postdoc at University College London she researched the computational and neurobiological mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. First with Prof. Jon Roiser (2011-2014) she combined computational modelling and high-resolution imaging methods to examine how negative expectations are processed in major depressive disorder. Then with Prof. Geraint Rees (2014-2017), she advanced a computationally informed theory of neural gain and sensory expectations in autism.

Becky's research has been covered in many major news outlets (The New York Times, The Times, The BBC, NPR – Science Friday, Time Magazine) and has been recognised with the BNPA Lishmann Prize (2014) and the SOBP Early Career Investigator Award (2018), the BAP Psychopharmacology Award (2018), and the UCL Neuroscience Early Career Research Prize (2018).

Becky values public engagement, and has been involved with the knit-a-neuron, Guerilla Science and most recently with @PrideinSTEM.

Her CV can be found here.

Rebecca Lawson


Bronagh McCoy (postdoc)

Bronagh joined the PaL lab after completing a PhD at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam with Jan Theeuwes. Her PhD research investigated the computational and neural basis of reward influences on perception, and applied modelling, fMRI and pharmacological methods in both healthy adults and adults with Parkinson's disease. Bronagh is interested broadly in computational psychiatry and in the PaL lab she will be using 7T imaging, eye-tracking and pharmacology to understand the computational mechanisms of uncertainty processing in autism and anxiety.

Bronagh enjoys playing tennis, bouldering and getting lost in forests/mountains whenever possible. You can find out about Bronagh's publications here and check out her Twitter here.

Ellie Smith (postdoc)

Ellie hails from a PhD at Lancaster University with Vincent Reid in which she used a combination of EEG and eye tracking methodologies to understand how parental schizotypy influences sensory gating abilities in their infant offspring. Ellie will be heading up the infant studies in the PaL Lab which use fNIRS and modelling to understand how we learn to build expectations in infancy and how these mechanisms change across development. 

Ellie's dog Remy is the goodest floofer and the official mascot for the PaL Lab. You can check out Ellie's Google Scholar here and find her on Twitter here. 

Visiting Students

Emma Ward (visiting PhD student)

Emma is a visiting PhD student from the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University in the Netherlands, where she is primarily supervised by Sabine Hunnius. Emma investigates the developmental aspects of predictive processing in infants and children who have autistic siblings. Emma recently visited the PaL Lab in Cambridge to begin work on a meta-analysis of adaptation in autism.

Emma can be found on Twitter, and you can check out her Google Scholar here.

Kelsey Perrykkad (visiting PhD student)

Kelsey is a visiting PhD student from Monash University in Melbourne, where she is primarily supervised by the brilliant Jakob Hohwy. Kelsey investigates the self in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Kelsey recently visited the PaL Lab in Cambridge to start analysis of a super cool project investigating how volatility and variance affect sampling behaviour when making judgements of self-hood. Kelsey will next visit the PaL lab in summer 2019.

Kelsey is awesome at digital art - like, bloody brilliant. She also writes for the Conversation, she can be found on Twitter, and you can check out her Google Scholar here.

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