Experiencing the world also means experiencing ourselves

We are interested in how our interoception - the sense of internal body states - affect numerous psychological processes including perception, cognition, and emotion.

We strive to delineate the mechanisms underlying these links, how they are processed within the brain, their typical and atypical development, and the methods with which they can be measured. We study these associations in a variety of populations from across the lifespan.

Our staff use a variety of techniques to study the psychophysiological and neural underpinnings of interoception, such as electrophysiological recording (EEG), functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), interventional techniques (TMS/tDCS), physiological recordings and behavioural measures.

Through these methodologies, we aim to answer a range of different research questions:

  • How do internal sensations, such us our breathing pace, influence our social behaviour?
  • Can the feeling that we are in control of our actions change depending on how we feel on the inside?
  • How do we develop empathic understanding?
  • Can babies distinguish between different sensations, such as hunger and sleepiness?
  • How do human attachment relationships and empathy impact the development of body cue and emotion processing?
  • How does adolescent brain development influence multi-sensory models of interoceptive processing and contribute to the development of cross diagnostic psychopathology?
  • Are negative and positive affective bodily states indexed by specific brain activity?

We also carry out research in related areas such as development, emotion, and action understanding, and some academics interested in this area carry out research in the Essex Babylab.

Recent papers





A photo of a baby standing up and reaching for some bubbles floating in front of it, with "University of Essex Babylab" in red and purple text on the left.
Essex Babylab

The Essex Babylab works to understand how babies and infants grow and develop, from learning to understand language through to becoming social, and how best to support new parents.

Learn more about Essex Babylab