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School of the Biological Sciences

Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour are three pillars of research that allow us to address questions on how the nervous system works, the changes that drive psychological and neurological disorders, and understand how and why animals and humans interact with the world around them. The Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour Research Theme brings together more than 80 interdisciplinary scientists studying all aspects of the nervous system and behaviour, from the biology of individual nerve cells through to the function of the brain and nervous system including vision, hearing, cognition, pain, memory, addiction, and social and group behaviours. Grouping neuroscientists, experimental and social psychologists and behaviourists from a range of research backgrounds provides a unique opportunity to push the boundaries in these fields to understand how the nervous system is structurally and functionally interlinked with the living body and the wider world.

Recent Discoveries

Scientists find that the impact of social media on wellbeing varies across adolescence

Girls and boys might be more vulnerable to the negative effects of social media use at different times during their adolescence, say an international team of scientists.

A team of interdisciplinary researchers, including Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (Psychology) show that, in UK data, girls experience a negative link between social media use and life satisfaction when they are 11-13 years old and boys when they are 14-15 years old. Increased social media use again predicts lower life satisfaction at age 19 years. At other times the link was not statistically significant. Read




‘Pre-bunk’ tactics reduce public susceptibility to COVID-19 conspiracies and falsehoods, study finds

Latest research on digital interventions suggests that exposing people to a “microdose” of techniques used by misinformation merchants helps “inoculate” them against fake news about the pandemic.

An online game designed to fight conspiracies about COVID-19 boosts people’s confidence in detecting misinformation by increasing their ability to perceive its “manipulativeness”. The game Go Viral! was developed by the University's Social Decision-Making Lab (led by Theme member Prof Sander van der Linden) in partnership with the UK Cabinet Office and media agency DROG. Read



Wider Impact

Influencing policy and legislation on diverse family forms

Advances in reproductive technologies and changing social attitudes are resulting in diverse family forms; lesbian mother families, gay father families, single mothers by choice, and families created by sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation and surrogacy.

Susan Golombok has pioneered research on diverse family forms, challenging commonly held assumptions about these families as well as widely held theories of child development. Her work has shown that children from these families experience high quality parenting and show low levels of emotional and behavioural problems. Read



CANTAB: a tool to detect early Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not only devastating to those affected but are also widely recognised to provide major caregiver and economic burden.

The Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) underpinned by research at the University of Cambridge was invented to bridge a translational gap between basic neuroscience and classical neuropsychological assessment. CANTAB revolutionises the detection of cognitive impairment in routine clinical care by replacing traditional paper-and-pencil-based cognitive testing with a computerised ‘objective’ mode of measurement. Read

Theme Leads

Hannah Clarke

Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Rebecca Lawson


Amy Milton


Ewan St. John Smith


Learn More

Members of the School can find out more about the Research Themes on the School Information Hub.

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