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Professor Andrew Lawrence Msc Sussex, PhD Cantab

Professor Andrew Lawrence

Msc Sussex, PhD Cantab

Professor

School of Psychology

Email
lawrencead@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 0712
Campuses
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

I am a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Deputy Director of Research/Chair of the Research Committee in the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. I am also Theme lead for ‘Healthy Aging’ as part of the Cardiff University/Office for National Statistics (ONS) Strategic Partnership 

My research focuses on understanding the role of large-scale networks linking the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system in coordinating and regulating higher-level cognitive-emotional processes, with an emphasis on how inter-individual differences in these circuits confer resilience or vulnerability to psychopathology and late life cognitive decline. I use state-of-the-art scanning facilities at the Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) to investigate the functional and structural connectivity that coordinates cortical-limbic interactions.

With Professor Kim Graham, Dr Jiaxiang Zhang, Professor Derek Jones and colleagues and funded by the MRC and the Waterloo Foundation, we are collaborating with the Bristol-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to investigate how genes and early environment are linked with the structure and function of the developing and adult fronto-limbic connectome. With Dr Carl Hodgetts, Prof. Kim Graham, Dr Jiaxiang Zhang and Professor John Aggleton, and funded by the BBSRC, we are using naturalistic stimuli combined with ultra-high field (7T) multi-modal imaging to investigate the role of hippocampal-prefrontal interactions in event cognition and autobiographical memory. In other projects, with Dr Matthias Gruber, I am investigating the role of medial temporal lobe – prefrontal connectivity in the link between motivation and memory, especially forms of curiosity; and with Dr Raluca Petrican, I am investigating how large-scale neurocognitive network interactions mediate adaptive and maladaptive responses relevant to psychopathology.

Biography

Postgraduate education

1994: MSc Experimental Psychology (University of Sussex)

1997: PhD Experimental Psychology (University of Cambridge). Supervised by TW Robbins & BJ Sahakian

Employment

Mar 2007-present: Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, UK

2004-2007: MRC Programme Leader (track), MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK (Emotion group)

2000-2004: Postdoctoral scientist, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK

1997-2000: Postdoctoral training fellowship (neuroimaging), MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, London, UK

Honours and awards

Awards

2005-present: Lifetime fellowship, Clare Hall, Cambridge University, UK

Professional memberships

Internation Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE)

Publications

2021

2020

2019

2017

2016

2015

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1995

Teaching

I am coordinator (and sole lecturer) on the final year module PS3416 "Emotion: social and neuroscience perspectives"

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of social and neuroscience perspectives on emotion, and how they might be integrated. The first half of the course focuses on the social (including cultural) functions of emotions. The second half focuses on the neuroscience of emotion and communication of emotions, including brain imaging (fMRI, EEG) and patient-based neuropsychological approaches to understanding the neural underpinnings of emotions and their intra-individual and social functions. The aim is to provide an integrated overview and understanding of contemporary debates and techniques in affective science and their relevance to 'the real world'

In addition, I give lectures (on the role of large-scale neurocognitive networks in emotion) , workshops (on neuroimaging meta analysis) and journal clubs on the module PST516: Topics in Cognitive Neuroscience as part of the MSc in Neuroimaging methods and applications

I supervise final year and MSc students on their research projects. These are usually on some aspect of the social functions of emotion and mental time travel/self-projection. I am a Personal Tutor to students at all levels of the Undergraduate degree.

Summary

My research uses converging cognitive neuroscience methods to study the role of large-scale networks linking the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system in coordinating and regulating higher-level cognitive-emotional processes, with an emphasis on how inter-individual differences in the structure and function of these circuits confer resilience or vulnerability to psychopathology and late life cognitive decline.

Currently, my lab, which is run jointly with Professor Kim Graham, is working on the following research projects:

The role of PFC-Amygdala interactions in adaptive socio-affective behaviour

In this line of research, we study how Individual differences in affective and social processes may arise from variability in amygdala-prefrontal (PFC) circuitry and related genetic and environmental heterogeneity.  A particular focus has been on investigating the role of white matter tracts, including the uncinate fasciculus, that carry neuronal fibres connecting the PFC with the MTL and other regions of the cortex. We use several cognitive neuroscience methods (structural MRI, diffusion MRI, task-based and task-free functional MRI, MR Spectroscopy and more recently computational modelling) to explore how amygdala-PFC interactions mediate core cognitive-affective processes underpinning the detection/anticipation/interpretation of socially relevant signals and that guide adaptive social approach and avoidance motivation, particularly in the context of the social- evaluative threats (and rewards) that are unique to complex human social life.

The role of PFC-hippocampal interactions in autobiographical memory and event cognition

In this line of research, we study how individual differences in autobiographical and event memory (including forms of imagination and deliberation) may arise from variability in hippocampal-prefrontal and related circuitry and related genetic and environmental/cultural heterogeneity.  A particular focus has been on investigating the role of white matter tracts, including the fornix and cingulum bundle , that carry neuronal fibres connecting the PFC with the MTL and other regions of the cortex (as part of a wider ‘core’ or ‘default mode’ network).  We use several cognitive neuroscience methods (structural MRI, diffusion MRI, task-based and task-free functional MRI, eye-tracking, MEG, and MR Spectroscopy) to explore how MTL-PFC interactions mediate core representations and processes underpinning the uniquely human capacity for “mental time travel” or “self-projection” and self-regulation. 

Key current funding

2021-2024 BBSRC: The subiculum: a key interface between scene representation and event memory? Lead PIs: Hodgetts and Lawrence. Co-PIs: Aggleton, Zhang, Graham £1.2M

2021-23 The Waterloo Foundation: How does hippocampal maturation support the development of human memory? PI: Graham, Co-PIs: Lawrence, Zhang, Hodgetts, Adlam & Langley £300k

 2017-21 MRC: Characterising brain network differences during scene perception and memory in APOE-e4 carriers: multi-modal imaging in ALSPAC. Lead PIs: Graham & Lawrence. Co-PIs Saksida, Jones, Wise, Filippini, Mackay, Kordas £1.75M

Supervision

I have successfully supervised over a dozen PhD and MD students all of whom have successfully completed their PhD and passed with only minor corrections. 

Students wishing to work in the group should be interested in studying the role of large-scale networks linking the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system in coordinating and regulating higher-level cognitive-emotional processes, with a particular focus on autobiographical memory/event cognition and/or adaptive social behaviour, including social emotions, from a functional perspective. 

Skills in neuroimaging, (multivariate) statistics and data science are likely to be required, as much of our research involves application of multi-modal imaging approaches to test the functionality of these neural circuits. Our translational work involves research with young and older individuals at varying levels of risk for psychopathology and/or later life cognitive decline, but also cross-cultural investigations with researchers working in low-to-middle income countries (e.g. India). We are also engaging in a new line of work on the development of fronto-limbic circuitry, which involves brain imaging and cognitive phenotyping studies in children. We also have an increasing interest in the application of natural language processing tools in the study of autobiographical memory and emotional language coding. 

If you are interested in applying for a PhD, or for further information regarding my postgraduate research, please contact me directly (contact details available on the 'Overview' page), or submit a formal application.

Current PhD students

Aminette D'Souza (jointly with Professor Kim Graham, Cardiff University)

Dr Chantelle Wiseman (jointly with Professor Stan Zammit, Cardiff/Bristol Universities)

Rikki Lissaman (jointly with Dr Carl Hodgetts, RHUL and Professor Kim Graham, Cardiff)

Samuel Berry (jointly with Dr Tom Lancaster, Bath) 

Erika Leonaviciute

Past projects

2020 (date of graduation): Samuel Ridgeway

2018: Stephanie Baker 

2018: Bethany Coad (winner prize for best PhD in Psychology)

2015: Bonni Crawford

2013: Marcel Meyer