Dr Giulia Poerio

Department of Psychology
Dr Giulia Poerio



Bio I completed my undergraduate degree Psychology and Philosophy (2011), followed by a 1+3 ESRC-funded Masters in Psychological Research (2012) and PhD (2015) - all at the University of Sheffield. I then took up a postdoctoral position at the University of York with Prof Jonny Smallwood and a second position with Prof Peter Totterdell at the University of Sheffield. I spent a year working at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge as a member of their Impact team (public engagement) before being appointed as a lecturer at Essex in December 2019. Research I have wide-ranging research interests which are united by their focus on emotion and well-being, particularly the relationship between cognition and emotion. I use diverse psychological approaches and methods, often working at the intersection of psychological disciplines including cognitive psychology, affective science, neuroscience, clinical, and social psychology. Much of my work to date has examined the state of mind-wandering which is estimated to occupy as much half of waking thought. My research in this area seeks to answer the overarching questions of HOW and WHY we mind-wander; this has included examining the heterogeneity of mind-wandering and its links to both positive and negative outcomes as well as understanding its neural and cognitive basis. The central question I’m interested in is: When, why, and for whom are unconstrained cognitive states such as mind-wandering, functional or dysfunctional? I have a keen and developing interest in sleep including: bi-directional associations with well-being/emotion; link to clinical disorders (especially in adolescence); interplay with mind-wandering; and understanding anomalous sleep experiences such as sleep paralysis. I also research ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which is a complex emotional state experienced by some people in response to triggers that typically include: whispering, soft-speaking, and close personal attention. ASMR has received substantial public attention but has only recently been the subject of scientific study. My interest in ASMR lies in what it can reveal about individual differences in the generation and experience of emotion. Public Engagement/Science Communication I’m passionate about engaging the public with research and communicating science. I’ve run a number of public engagement and outreach events focused on my research including collaborations with the Wellcome Collection, Museums Sheffield, Guerilla Science, and arts charity Ignite Imaginations. I regularly communicate my research in news articles, podcasts, and tv/radio.


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, Psychology, University of Essex (2/12/2019 - present)

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Developmental Psychology (PS406)

  • Advanced Developmental Psychology (PS931)


Journal articles (25)

Smallwood, J., Turnbull, A., Wang, H-T., Ho, NSP., Poerio, GL., Karapanagiotidis, T., Konu, D., Mckeown, B., Zhang, M., Murphy, C., Vatansever, D., Bzdok, D., Konishi, M., Leech, R., Seli, P., Schooler, JW., Bernhardt, B., Margulies, DS. and Jefferies, E., (2021). The neural correlates of ongoing conscious thought.. iScience. 24 (3), 102132-102132

Poerio, G. and Totterdell, P., (2020). The Effect of Fiction on the Well-Being of Older Adults: A Longitudinal RCT Intervention Study Using Audiobooks. Psychosocial Intervention. 29 (1), 29-38

Karapanagiotidis, T., Vidaurre, D., Quinn, AJ., Vatansever, D., Poerio, GL., Turnbull, A., Ho, NSP., Leech, R., Bernhardt, BC., Jefferies, E., Margulies, DS., Nichols, TE., Woolrich, MW. and Smallwood, J., (2020). The psychological correlates of distinct neural states occurring during wakeful rest. Scientific Reports. 10 (1), 21121-

Ho, NSP., Poerio, G., Konu, D., Turnbull, A., Sormaz, M., Leech, R., Bernhardt, B., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2020). Facing up to the wandering mind: Patterns of off-task laboratory thought are associated with stronger neural recruitment of right fusiform cortex while processing facial stimuli. NeuroImage. 214, 116765-116765

Totterdell, P. and Poerio, G., (2020). An investigation of the impact of encounters with artistic imagination on well-being.. Emotion

Murphy, C., Poerio, G., Sormaz, M., Wang, H-T., Vatansever, D., Allen, M., Margulies, DS., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2019). Hello, is that me you are looking for? A re-examination of the role of the DMN in social and self relevant aspects of off-task thought. PLoS One. 14 (11), e0216182-e0216182

Martinon, LM., Riby, LM., Poerio, G., Wang, H-T., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2019). Patterns of on-task thought in older age are associated with changes in functional connectivity between temporal and prefrontal regions. Brain and Cognition. 132, 118-128

Hostler, TJ., Poerio, GL. and Blakey, E., (2019). Still More Than a Feeling: Commentary on Cash et al., “Expectancy Effects in the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” and Recommendations for Measurement in Future ASMR Research. Multisensory Research. 32 (6), 521-531

Denis, D., Poerio, GL., Derveeuw, S., Badini, I. and Gregory, AM., (2019). Associations between exploding head syndrome and measures of sleep quality and experiences, dissociation, and well-being. Sleep. 42 (2)

Krieger-Redwood, K., Wang, H-T., Poerio, G., Martinon, LM., Riby, LM., Smallwood, J. and Jefferies, E., (2019). Reduced semantic control in older adults is linked to intrinsic DMN connectivity. Neuropsychologia. 132, 107133-107133

Poerio, GL., Blakey, E., Hostler, TJ. and Veltri, T., (2018). More than a feeling: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology. PLOS ONE. 13 (6), e0196645-e0196645

Sormaz, M., Murphy, C., Wang, H-T., Hymers, M., Karapanagiotidis, T., Poerio, G., Margulies, DS., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2018). Default mode network can support the level of detail in experience during active task states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (37), 9318-9323

Wang, H-T., Poerio, G., Murphy, C., Bzdok, D., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2018). Dimensions of Experience: Exploring the Heterogeneity of the Wandering Mind. Psychological Science. 29 (1), 56-71

(2018). Correction for Sormaz et al., Default mode network can support the level of detail in experience during active task states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115 (47), E11198-E11198

de Caso, I., Poerio, G., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2017). That’s me in the spotlight: neural basis of individual differences in self-consciousness. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (9), 1384-1393

Denis, D. and Poerio, GL., (2017). Terror and bliss? Commonalities and distinctions between sleep paralysis, lucid dreaming, and their associations with waking life experiences. Journal of Sleep Research. 26 (1), 38-47

Poerio, GL., Sormaz, M., Wang, H-T., Margulies, D., Jefferies, E. and Smallwood, J., (2017). The role of the default mode network in component processes underlying the wandering mind. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (7), 1047-1062

Poerio, GL., Totterdell, P., Emerson, L-M. and Miles, E., (2016). Social Daydreaming and Adjustment: An Experience-Sampling Study of Socio-Emotional Adaptation During a Life Transition. Frontiers in Psychology. 7 (JAN), 13-

Poerio, GL., Kellett, S. and Totterdell, P., (2016). Tracking Potentiating States of Dissociation: An Intensive Clinical Case Study of Sleep, Daydreaming, Mood, and Depersonalization/Derealization. Frontiers in Psychology. 7 (AUG), 1231-

Poerio, GL., Totterdell, P., Emerson, L-M. and Miles, E., (2016). Helping the heart grow fonder during absence: Daydreaming about significant others replenishes connectedness after induced loneliness. Cognition and Emotion. 30 (6), 1197-1207

Poerio, GL., Totterdell, P., Emerson, L-M. and Miles, E., (2016). Corrigendum: Social Daydreaming and Adjustment: An Experience-Sampling Study of Socio-Emotional Adaptation During a Life Transition. Frontiers in Psychology. 7, 174-

Poerio, GL. and Smallwood, J., (2016). Daydreaming to navigate the social world: What we know, what we don't know, and why it matters. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 10 (11), 605-618

Poerio, GL., Totterdell, P., Emerson, L-M. and Miles, E., (2015). Love is the triumph of the imagination: Daydreams about significant others are associated with increased happiness, love and connection. Consciousness and Cognition. 33, 135-144

Poerio, GL., Totterdell, P. and Miles, E., (2013). Mind-wandering and negative mood: Does one thing really lead to another?. Consciousness and Cognition. 22 (4), 1412-1421

Martínez-Íñigo, D., Poerio, GL. and Totterdell, P., (2013). The Association between Controlled Interpersonal Affect Regulation and Resource Depletion. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 5 (2), 248-269

Book chapters (1)

Poerio, G., (2016). Could Insomnia Be Relieved with a YouTube Video? The Relaxation and Calm of ASMR. In: The Restless Compendium. Springer International Publishing. 119- 128. 9783319452630

Grants and funding


ASMR for advertising � brand partnership

Aduro Communications

+44 (0) 1206 872746


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