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I am Senior Lecturer in Social Behaviour and Neurodevelopment at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience (IOPPN), King’s College London. I am also Consultant Neuropsychiatrist in the National Autism Unit and Neuropsychiatry Brain Injury Clinic at the Maudsley and Bethlem Hospitals. The National Autism Unit was rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following visits in September 2015.  

I chair the Maudsley Philosophy Group, and Social and Cultural Neuroscience Group at the IOPPN. I have researched the relations between culture, cognition and brain function since studying Theology and Religious Studies at Cambridge University, and later medicine at Guys and St Thomas’ Medical School, London, and psychiatry at the Maudsley and Bethlem Hospitals.  My work brings cognitive neuroscience research methods into dialogue with humanities scholarship to improve understanding of religious cognition, experience, and behaviour. Current research topics include researching voice hearing in patient groups and cultural practitioners such as spiritualist mediums with colleagues from the IOPPN, Religious Studies, Ancient History at Kings, and Anthropology from Stanford; and how social, cognitive and brain processes contribute to belief formation.  I also research biological, psychological, and social influences on development, particularly in relation to common disorders such as autism, ADHD, conduct disorder, personality disorders, psychosis, and dissociative disorders.   Research methods include phenomenological interview and measures, the experimental use of suggestion in hypnosis, functional fMRI, transcranial magnetic stimulation, EEG, real time fMRI neurofeedback, and pharmacological modulation of cognition and brain function.  

Research Interests

  • Understanding similarities and differences between altered self-experience (such as voice hearing) in religious experience and psychopathology 
  • The ‘power of belief’: social, cognitive, and neural influences on belief formation, and how beliefs and expectancies alter experience through effects on brain function 
  • The structure of the self, dissociation and functional neurological symptoms 
  • Social cognition in neurodevelopmental disorders, acquired brain injury, and personality disorder 


My research role includes PhD supervision, undergraduate and postgraduate medical teaching, as well as teaching on MSc courses at the IOPPN, including Clinical Neurodevelopmental Sciences, Forensic Mental Health, and Neuroimaging.  I lecture on topics including neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and ADHD; acquired brain injury; criminal psychopathy; social cognition, emotion, empathy and violence; hypnosis, consciousness, and dissociation; functional neurological disorders; spirituality, religion and mental health; cognitive neuroscience of hallucinations and passivity phenomena in schizophrenia. Lectures on cultural neuroscience topics have included taboo; witchcraft and psychosis; neuroanthropology; and cognitive foundations of ancient religious experience.  

Expertise and Public Engagement


(a) Personification across Disciplines International Conference, Durham University 9/18; 

(b) teaching at RCPsych ASD teaching day 12/19;   

(c ) lecturing at Mind and Life Europe conference 6/19;  

(d) UCL Medical Anthropology seminar series 3/19 

Podcast –Mood for Thought -  interviewed by SLAM trainees –– 3/19 

Bethlem Museum of Mind – contributing presentation of automatic writing research to exhibition Brilliant Visions: Art, Mescaline, and Psychiatry, 5/19 

Media appearances about research using suggestion and MRI to model neuropsychiatric  

symptoms and cultural possession states - BBC Radio 4 All in the Mind (12/14),  

BBC Arabic (04/15), Trust Me I’m a Doctor (9/16) 

Research Groups

  • Chair of Cultural and Social Neuroscience Research Group, IOPPN. 
  • Chair of Maudsley Philosophy Group