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Meet the Body Lab

Members

Dr Sarah Cooney

Principal Investigator 

I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at University College Dublin. My background is in experimental psychology with training in cognitive neuroscience and my primary research interest is in body perception. The fundamental question that drives my research agenda is: What is it like to have and be a body? 

 

 Research in the lab is concerned with specifying the relationship between the multifaceted processes that give rise to body representation. We are particularly interested in cases where body representation concerning size and shape is distorted — such as those with body image disturbances.

Current projects investigate interoceptive and exteroceptive influences on body representation, distortions of body schema in body image disturbance, body image and menopausal symptoms and body image in chronic conditions.

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Akansha Mahesh Naraindas

Ad Astra PhD Student

I am a final year Ad Astra funded PhD student at the UCD School of Psychology and have been conducting research with the UCD Body Lab for 4 years. My PhD aims to distinguish between cognitive body image and the sensorimotor body schema representation of the body for movement, exploring their conscious and unconscious interactions with interoception. My studies assess these relationships in women across various life stages and also in men, a typically understudied demographic in body image research.

My current research uses virtual reality methodology to investigate how negative body image affects interactions with the environment during movement, and assesses whether it leads to alterations in the perception of movement space. I also work on projects investigating the neuroscience of body image, psychopharmacology, addiction, and women's mental health.

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Glenn Jennings 

Clinical Psychology Doctorate Student 

I am a trainee clinical psychologist at the UCD School of Psychology and am currently conducting research in the UCD Body  Lab. My research is looking at the role of interoception in the aetiology and pathogenesis of anorexia nervosa.

I have an interest in the biological and cognitive bases of psychological disorders and wish to contribute to the ever-growing research pool of eating disorders. I have previous research experience with chronic illness having worked with those with long COVID with a view to identifying objective markers of the condition.

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Deirbhle Fergus

Lab Research Assistant 

I graduated psychology at UCD in 2023 and am currently working as a research assistant at the Body Lab. I am particularly interested in applied health research, and my thesis (supervised by Dr Sarah Cooney) explored the assets and obstacles to Irish midwives’ career longevity. I have presented my research at the Psychology Student Congress, the PSI Annual Conference 2023, the 2023 All-Ireland Midwifery Conference, and the HSE: Promoting a Just Culture Conference. My broader research interests include chronic stress, interoception and how Irish healthcare is experienced by those who access services and also work within it. I hope to pursue a master's and ultimately a Ph.D. in one of these topics. 

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Rosie Rogers

Behavioural Neuroscience MSc Student 

I graduated from my undergraduate in psychology at Université Lyon 2 in 2023. My bachelor's thesis was called "The inclusion of the autistic artist in society" and analysed aspects of the cognitive profile, the creative processes, social support, personality and perceptions of autistic artists through interviews, questionnaires and the elaboration of a creative workbook. I also have completed an exchange at Queen's University Canada and I am currently working on an article with colleagues from Queen's called "The Influence of Different Types of Disgust on Time Perception". I'm a student on the MSc Behavioural Neuroscience project. I'm currently working on a VR Aperture task study with Akansha for my research project. My interests include social developmental neuroscience and body image.

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Jana Baumer

Behavioural Neuroscience MSc Student

I am Jana and I am from Germany. I am part of the MSc Behavioural Neuroscience program. I already have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I am interested in the research fields of Computational Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence.

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Aisling Douris

Psychological Science MSc Student 

I completed the Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Psychology at UCD in 2020, focusing on the relationship between interoceptive sensibility, trait anxiety, and mindfulness-based practices. I am currently a student on the Masters in Psychological Science programme in UCD. My research is investigating positive and negative facets of body image and their link with attitudes towards cosmetic surgery among Irish adults. I am also currently working as an Assistant Psychologist in HSE Adult Mental Health Services.

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Molly McHale

BSc Psychology Student

I am an aspiring Psychologist going into my final year on the BSc Psychology. I am an Ad Astra Academic Scholar, and have been awarded the HRB Summer Studentship to fund my work at the UCD Body Lab as Lab Manager and Research Assistant.

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Interested in joining the lab as a PhD student?

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD or postdoctoral research in the UCD Body lab please email Dr Sarah Cooney at s.cooney@ucd.ie 

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