We look at the way our psychological and physical selves change and interact over the course of our life; we are particularly interested in discovering which physiological, behavioural, cognitive and lifestyle factors support a healthy development across all ages and stages of life, including childhood, adolescence and adulthood. We study how biology may influence behaviour and vice versa, and also study the social, cultural and psychological factors that contribute how we think, feel and behave, as well as our health. Our research includes measures and models of perceptual sensitivity, perceptions of ageing, elder stereotypes, pubertal/adolescent development, socio-cultural influence on biobehavioural health, intergenerational transmission of trauma and psychobiological stress.
We utilise a variety of methods including experimental, surveys, ecological momentary assessment, interviews and focus groups, and we use measures including electroencephalography, neuroendocrine assessment and measures of immunological and cardiovascular function, including heart rate variability, among others.
There are several research groups that work in the aea of Healthy Development and Ageing, including the Ageing, Cognition, Multisensory perception, and Environment laboratory ACMELab, the BEATS Lab (Biology, Emotions & Transitiions Studies Lab, the Resilience & Transition Group and the Stress Trauma & Resilience-Recovery group (ST*RR).
The Ageing, Cognition, Multisensory perception, and Environment laboratory https://www.acmelab.science/is led by Dr. Annalisa Setti and Dr. Jason S. Chan. The ACME lab studies multisensory perception and cognition, with particular focus on healthy older adults, older people who exercise, fallers, young athletes, and sedentary kids. We also measure the characteristics of the lived environment which train our brain and support or hinder independent living when we get older. Using electroencephalography (EEG), we investigate the cortical dynamics between multisensory perception and the lived environment to improve the ageing brain.
Stress, Trauma, Resilience and Recovery
This group works on research projects to describe the ways in which stress and trauma may affect the individual in their workplace, including mapping how experiences may be influenced by past experience, by workplace culture and supports and using measures of neuroendocrine and cardiovascular responses (e.g. heart rate variability, cortisol), measures of workplace wellbeing, and measures used in cognitive psychology, including decision making and memory. The group aims to describe the multiple and interactive effects of workplace stress on individual wellbeing, and develop interventions as well as focus on trauma-informed service design. A current project has partnered with the National Ambulance Survey to understand workplace stress and wellbeing,. The project uses mixed methods, with a series of studies already completed, including a scoping review, and three studies This research group includes Dr’s Carol Linehan, Sharon Lambert, Gillian Murphy, Raegan Murphy and Samantha Dockray.
Biology, Emotions and Transitions
Research projects in the BEATS Lab (http://beatslab.ucc.ie/) emphasise the psychobiosocial approach to understanding behaviours, responses to experience, resilience and individual differences. Dr Samantha Dockray leads this group and current projects include the ‘Health and Behaviour in Teens’ study, to examine how systemic inflammation may influence internalising and externalising behaviours at adolescence, the ‘Body and Emotions Study’, to examine how the physiological processes of puberty may influence emotion regulation and body image at adolescence, and two projects which examine how stress during childhood and adolescence in related to allostatic load and how interventions during adolescence may support positive development. The Lab uses a range of methods, including biological measures and standardised psychological tests. The BioAssay Lab uses measures of psychoneuroendocrinology and psychoneuroimmunology and has a full assay laboratory in the School. The lab also uses specialised equipment to monitor heart rate variability and blood pressure, and devices that allow ambulatory measurement of biology and emotions for up to three weeks in ecological settings.
Resilience and Transition Group
The Resilience & Transition Research Group is interested in understanding resilience at the biological, individual, socio-cultural, and ecological systems levels. The Resilience & Transition Research Group, led by Dr Angela Veale, is engaged in: developing strengths-based, systems-level models, identifying factors correlated with resilient resources, processes and outcomes from the biological level to understanding individuals dealing with adversity within resilient system, and increasing understanding of the importance and role of community, cultural and wider socio-political processes. The group works to integrate multidisciplinary knowledge gained from developmental, neuroendocrinological, health and cultural psychology and resilience in the developing individual and within cultural human adaptive systems to augment prevention science which seeks to prevent or limit damage and risk at all levels of resilience-supporting systems.