Dr Dorothy Cowie

Principal Investigator

My current work brings together movement and body awareness. I use motion capture to study children’s movement control, and combine this with virtual reality to examine how movement helps to ground the sense of bodily self in the context of rapid childhood growth. I am Chair of the newly-established Body Representation Network and serve on the Editorial Board of Multisensory Research.

Dr Leif Johannsen

Postdoctoral Research Associate

My background involves working, teaching, and leading groups in Germany and the UK, covering psychology, behavioural neuroscience, engineering, geriatrics, physical/occupational therapy, sports science, human movement science, and scientific research management.

My main research interests involve the role of body representations in movement control, and the distinction between self-driven and externally-driven influences. I am passionate about research and clinical applications, and believe body representations impact many physical and mental activities, as a central expression of prediction in the central nervous system. 

Dr Hayley Dewe

Postdoctoral Research Associate

I worked on the ESRC-funded project on the cognitive development of own-body representation in childhood and continue to collaborate with the group. My research investigates the sensory processes underlying embodiment and body ownership, such as the role of movement cues and hand corporeality for virtual hands and bodies. 

During my PhD (University of Birmingham, 2018) I investigated illusory and aberrant experiences of the self and body, such as Depersonalization / Derealization and Out-of-Body experiences. I also explored autonomic emotional processing toward aversive stimuli (body-threats) via psychophysiology.

Laura Bird

PhD Candidate

Following my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I completed a master’s in Developmental Disorders at Lancaster University. Here I developed a keen interest in autism, and how it manifests behaviourally, particularly in non-verbal and minimally verbal children. Whilst I predominantly focused on linguistic understanding, observations during testing sessions piqued my interest into sensory seeking behaviours. 

I currently work as a visiting Research Assistant here at Durham on the BOLDkids project, which examines how limb differences affect motor development. 

Louise Hanson

PhD Candidate

I have a keen interest in body image and eating disorders. I am particularly interested in how body image develops in less studied populations, such as men, older women, children, and in different cultures.  

My PhD is concerned with how attitudes towards one’s own body and attitudes towards food develop across the lifespan, but particularly during the onset of puberty. I conduct research in schools and in the community to determine what factors might indicate the onset of disordered eating symptoms with the aim to informing preventative interventions suitable for young audiences. 

Emerald Grimshaw

PhD Candidate

My PhD project is focused on using Virtual Reality as an educational tool in the classroom. We will be creating virtual worlds, set in a historical time period, and will examine whether experiences in these immersive VR environments enhances children’s learning.

I was a Research Assistant in Dorothy’s lab prior to starting my PhD and have worked on a range of projects including: the development of motor skills in children with limb differences, exploring body ownership in Virtual Reality and investigating the factors predicting innovation abilities in children ranging from 3- to 11-years-old.

Oscar Sill

PhD  Candidate

I am interested in understanding how the sense of embodiment (knowing a body is mine and belongs to my self) develops across the lifespan. What is most important for perceiving 'my body' at different ages? 

To do this, I am passionate about using Virtual Reality and Motion Capture to give children and adults fully controllable moving virtual avatars, which I can manipulate and change. 

My current project studies how children understand the structural and aesthetic features of their own rapidly-changing bodies. This builds on my other work, which has used similar tech to study how children use proprioception to perceive their actively moving bodies.

Isabel Castelow

Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student at Durham, studying Psychology. My current research project explores training children in virtual reality and is conducted as part of the BPS Summer Scheme.

Previous Collaborators

Rachel Mowbray - as a PhD student, Rachel researched motor development and visual movement control,  as well as how creative dance training impacts primary aged children.

Dr Janna Gottwald - a postdoctoral fellow, Janna worked on the ESRC-funded project on the development of own-body representation in childhood.

Marie Polaskova - an Undergraduate Laidlaw Scholar, interested in body representation in children, and how they perceive the environment relative to their own body size.