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IoP research worker awarded British Psychological Society Psychobiology Section undergraduate project prize

SEPTEMBER 11, 2008

Emma-Louise Jay, a SURE Research Worker from Health Services Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry at King’s, had been awarded the British Psychological Society (BPS) Psychobiology Section's undergraduate project prize. Miss Jay was presented with her prize at the Psychobiology Section Annual Scientific Meeting in the Lake District, on 5th September 2008.  

The BPS Psychobiology Section's undergraduate project prize is awarded annually and open to all UK final year undergraduates. Submissions are drawn from all areas of Psychobiology including Behavioural Neuroscience, Psychophysiology, Psychopharmacology, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Psychoneuroimmunology, Animal Behaviour, Ethology, Behavioural Genetics, Learning Theory and Neuropsychology. Out of 12 entries in total, 6 projects were shortlisted and the winning entry invited to present their findings to colleagues at the Psychobiology Section Annual Scientific Meeting.

Dr Cathy Montgomery from the BPS Psychobiology Section said: “Emma-Louise's submission was outstanding. The research was novel and the literature review provided a clear rationale for the study. The execution of the study and the interpretation of the results were also very scientific and well-written and it was clear from Emma-Louise's discussion that she had a good understanding of the implications of her research and how the project sits in terms of prior and future research.”

The project investigated the relationship between depersonalisation (feelings of “unreality”) and anxiety by exploring the levels of depersonalisation, suggestibility, the hypothalamic–pituitary-adrenal axis and stress response in a non-clinical population. The study found a significant positive correlation between high depersonalisation scores and hypnotic suggestibility and a significant negative correlation between hypnotic suggestibility and salivary cortisol. It was also found that 16.6% of participants had experienced substantial depersonalisation in the last 6 months. The results suggest that depersonalisation shares features of both the anxious and dissociative disorders and may have implications for treatment which will now be followed up with clinical samples.

Professor Til Wykes from the IoP’s Health Services Population Research Department said: "We are delighted Emma-Louise Jay has been recognised for the excellent work she carried out as an undergraduate. This prize is another reflection of the high-calibre of staff working here at the Institute of Psychiatry".

This work was supervised by Dr Anna Scarna (Oxford Brookes University) and is being edited for publication with Dr Mauricio Sierra-Siegert (Institute of Psychiatry).
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