Welcome to the Social Brain & Development Lab  - a developmental cognitive neuroscience research group at the University of Surrey

Kathrin Cohen Kadosh

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I read for my PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London and then went on to receive postdoctoral training at University College London, King's College London, the National Institute of Mental Health, USA and Oxford (Curriculum vitae). My research investigates how improving cognitive abilities and changes in brain function and structure shape the emerging social brain network.

Fun fact: I am a passionate gardener who compensates lack of knowledge with enthusiasm

Favourite super power: To be able to speak every language

Ayan Ahmed

I have a BSc in Psychology and MSc in Neuroscience. I recently returned to education to start a postgraduate doctorate degree in Psychology at Surrey.  I am particularly interested in neuropsychology and developing knowledge on the underlying biological mechanisms of addiction and mental illness. My current research focuses on using neuroscience techniques to understand the behavioural and cognitive consequences of plant-based natural psychoactive stimulants such as Catha edulis.

Fun fact: I enjoy exploring underwater marine life. 

Favourite superpower: Invisibility 

Hannah Baron


I have a BSc in Psychology, and am now studying for an MSc in Research Methods in Psychology at the University of Surrey. I am interested in research topics that look into treatments and management options for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, in cognitive, behavioural and neuropsychological areas, but always interested in new areas and ideas.

Fun fact: I can perform with an ignited fire staff and fire fans (not at the same time).

Favourite super power: Shape changing

Chris Chrzanowski

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I have a BSc in Sociology and Criminology and I’m currently studying on the MSc Psychology conversion course here at Surrey University.  Before joining Surrey I worked as a research assistant with the Brain, Behaviour and Cognition research group at Winchester University exploring the cognitive effects of anxiety on auditory perception.  My current dissertation research focuses on how the brain-gut axis influences cognitive ability and mental wellbeing amongst late adolescents. 

Fun Fact: I'm a firm believer that pineapple belongs on pizza. 

Favourite Superpower: Time-travel, Flying & Hyper-polyglottism (Why have one theoretical superpower when you can have three?)

Suzi Dart

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I studied for my BA in Biology at Magdalen College, Oxford and have worked for the past six years in healthcare communication, largely in the field of chronic diseases. I am currently studying for an MSc in Psychology (Conversion) and am particularly interested in the interaction between body and mind, and the complex effects of each on the other. My dissertation will be focused on the gut-brain axis.

Fun fact: I am a keen amateur dressmaker and can’t resist a craft project.

Favourite superpower: Teleportation

Nicola  Johnstone

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I’m currently carrying out post-doctoral research in the SBD lab after obtaining a PhD in Psychology from the University of Surrey. I use cognitive neuroscience techniques to better understand the brain and behaviour in real world settings, and specialise in the use of mobile technology such as EEG for assessing brain activity in everyday life.

Fun fact: I train in aerial skills and recently took up gymnastics in anticipation of the day that I finally decide to join the circus…

Favourite super power: Mega strength

Anna Kauer

I studied for my MSc in Psychology (Conversion) at Surrey where my dissertation focused on the relationship between divergent thinking and creativity as a function of creative achievement.  I graduated with a Distinction and am now working on a PhD, funded by a departmental studentship, exploring how attention type relates to creativity in children as well as adults. I am also interested in the interaction between creativity and emotional regulation, mind-wandering and flow states, and sensory processing sensitivity.

Fun fact: After reading for a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford (that included Anglo Saxon), I worked in book publishing and television for several years.  

Favourite super power: Combined time travel and flying

Paul Knytl

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I have a BSc in Civil Engineering and a MEng in Construction Engineering, both from University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. I have an MSc (Conversion) in Psychology from the University of Surrey, and am currently in my first year of a funded PhD in Psychology, also at Surrey. I’m interested in the neuroscience of meditation and human-technology interaction, how these behaviours can be seen from a neurofeedback perspective, and what effects they may have on behaviour and cognition

Fun fact: In 2012 I flew around the world visiting 12 countries in 9 months. The experience lead me to change careers from engineering to cognitive neuroscience research.

Favourite super power: Telekinesis

Graham Staunton


My background is in Clinical Psychology and I have a particular interest in Neuropsychology and its application to diagnosis and treatment in the NHS. My major research project concerns Neurofeedback and its application to anxiety in adolescence.

Fun fact: I compose piano music in my free time.

Favourite super power: Control over time


Joakim Westh Wiencken


I am a Dane with a BSc and MSc in Psychology from the UK, who is particularly interested in developmental psychopathology. After my MSc, I spent most of my time working with children, but have jumped back into the educational fray and have started a Ph.D. in Psychology at Surrey University. My research focuses on the effects of neurofeedback training in adolescents with-and at high-risk of depression, and when I’m not wallowing in my office, I can be found enjoying the simpler things in life, such as sleeping, watching TV and staring at birds in the park.

Fun fact: In 2017, I entered a relay-race versus 24 4th graders and won.

Favourite super power: mind control


Olivia Burns now MSc Paediatric Neurology, UCL, London

Chiara Milesi now MSc University of Padua, Padua, Italy