Rebecca Elliott

Rebecca Elliott, , BA, PhD


Personal profile

Research interests

My research interests focus on understanding the neurobiological basis of emotional, motivational and social processes, particularly in the context of psychiatric disorders.

I use a combination of brain imaging techniques (particularly functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) and neuropsychological testing to explore neurocognitive aspects of emotional, motivational and social function, in healthy volunteers and patients with neuropsychiatric problems. With my colleagues in the Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit, I also study how these functions are modulated by pharmacological interventions.

My main current projects are: (i) exploring the effects of treatment on emotional functions in depression; (ii) exploring the neurobiological basis of resilience to depression in the face of acute and chronic stress; (iii) exploring interactions between physical health, depression and neurocognitive profile  and (iv) exploring neurobiological mechanisms of craving and cognition in drug addiction and how these influence relapse.

I am also involved in methodological developments in cognitive brain imaging and neuropsychology., collaborating with colleagues in other research groups in Manchester and other universities in the UK and Europe to develop new paradigms for exploring emotional, motivational and social functions in a wide range of clinical populations.

I supervise a number of PhD students on projects relating to my research interests and am always happy to discuss potential research projects with students hoping to carry out PhD or postdoctoral research.

I am actively involved in a range of public engagement activities, with primary and secondary schools and adult audiences, as well as via festivals and related public events. Please contact me to discuss public engagement projects.


MSc Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience (School of Psychological Sciences)

Undergraduate teaching in Medical School: Phase 1 lectures on Mind and Movement.  Phase I tutor for professional and personal development, supervisor for SSMs and 4th Year project options. I offer projects in the general area of psychiatry and brain function.

My collaborations

Manchester collaborators:

  • Elise Kleyn and Chris Griffiths, Dermatology. Neural basis of emotional dysfunction in chronic skin disease
  • Anthony Jones, Rheumatology. Neural processing of pain.
  • Ian Bruce, Rheumatology. Neural correlates of mood disturbance and fatigue in Lupus.
  • Wael el-Deredy, School of Psychological Sciences. Reward processing mechanisms.
  • Daniela Montaldi, School of Psychological Sciences. Emotional memory in depression.
  • Penny Lewis, School of Psychological Sciences. Sleep and memory impairments in depression.
  • Adrian Heald, Endocrinology. Neural mechanisms of antipsychotic-induced weight gain.

UK/European collaborators:

  • Imperial College, University of Cambridge: new treatments for addiction.
  • Anna Barnes, University of Cambridge: fractal analysis in fMRI
  • Center for Integrated Molecular and Biological Imaging, Copenhagen: serotonin, impulsivity and depression.
  • Asa Hammer, Kenneth Hugdahl, University of Bergen: neural mechanisms of executive functioning in depression.

Methodological knowledge

Design, programming and interpretation of neuropsychological tests.

Design, programming and interpretation of cognitive challenge tasks to use with functional neuroimaging.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Digital Futures


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