Dr Barney Dunn


Research interests

My research examines how people control their feelings, and how this can go awry in those suffering from depression. I am currently particularly interested in:

1. Understanding what underpins difficulties in experiencing positive emotions (anhedonia) in depression and developing novel treatments to target anhedonia

2. Examining whether mindfulness based cognitive therapy can be adapted to treat acute and residual depression. 

I use a combination of experimental (cognitive tasks, psychophysiology) and naturalistic (diary and experience sampling) methods to try and connect up the laboratory with the real world. I am using this basic science work is to help develop novel interventions to supplement existing therapeutic strategies. At present, I am focusing on the development of Augmented Depression Therapy. To ensure these interventions re fit for the NHS context, I am using principles from implementation science to co-design my interventions alongside service-users, clinicians and clincial commissioners. 

Research projects

ADepT: A research study of Augmented Depression Therapy
From January 2015 to January 2020 my research will be supported by a National Institute of Health Research Career Development Fellowship. During the fellowship I plan to develop and evaluate a novel psychological treatment for depression (see the ADepT Project Page).


Co-investigator on NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Award. Title: "“The clinical and cost-effectiveness of adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for Bipolar Mood Instability in primary care (ThrIVe-B programme): A feasibility study”. Amount £262,000. Duration 03/2017-03/2019.

Co- principal investigator on NHS funded award. Title: "AccEPT clinic Devon 2017/2019". Amount: £272, 272. Duration 04/2016- 04/2017.

Co- principal investigator on NHS funded award. Title: "AccEPT clinic Devon 2016/2017". Amount: £136, 136. Duration 04/2016- 04/2017.

Principal Investigator on NIHR Career Development Fellowship award. Title: "Improving depression treatment outcomes by better repairing positivity deficits: Development and pilot randomised controlled evaluation of a novel psychosocial therapy." Amount: £557,000. Duration 01/2015-12/2019.

Co-investigator on NHS funded award. Title: "AccEPT clinic Devon 2014/15". Amount: £272, 272. Duration 04/2014- 04/2016.

Principal Investigator on Wellcome Internal Strategic Support Fund award from University of Exeter. Title: "Do disturbances in reward system function predict current and future mood disorder symptoms and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours? A community cohort prospective study". Amount £67, 000. Duration: 01/2013-01/2014.

Co-investigator on NHS funded award. Title: "AccEPT Clinic Devon 2013/14". Amount £136,136, Duration: 04/2013-03/2014.

Collaborator on project supported by NIHR CLAHRC for the South West Peninsula, led by Professor Chris Dickens and Professor Willem Kuyken. Title: "Determining the feasibility and acceptability of mindfulness based interventions in depressed people with chronic physical health problems: A pilot study". Amount: £14,412. Duration: 2/2013-12/2013.

Part of consortium bidding for EPSRC capital expenditure grant, awarded to University of Exeter. Title: "Small items of research equipment at the University of Exeter: Amount: total grant £512,259 (my share £12,000). Duration: 09/2012-03/2012.

Collaborator on Medical Research Council intramural programme grant (2009-2013) awarded to Professor Tim Dalgleish. Title: "Cognitive efficiency and mental control: From basic processes to clinical interventions". Amount: £2.2 million. Duration: 07/2009-07/2013. I independently developed, wrote, and lead two research streams, including a stream on anhedonia.

Collaborator on Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship, awarded to Dr. Richard Meiser-Stedman. Title: "Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an early intervention for PTSD in youth: preliminary efficacy and mechanisms of action". Amount: £755,000. Duration: 09/2009 – 09/2013.

Collaborator on British Academy Small Grant awarded to Dr Luke Clark. Title: "Characterising Resilience: a Cognitive-Psychophysiological Approach". Amount: £7,309. Duration: 07/2008-07/2011.

Principal applicant on Royal Society Short Visit Grant. Title: "Understanding the Link Between Suppression and Intrusions in Clinical Depression". Amount £1,950. Duration:09/2008 – 12/2008.

On advisory board of ESRC grant awarded to Professor Peter Totterdale. Title: "Emotion Regulation of Others and Self: A collaborative research network". Amount: £2.1 million. Duration: 01/2008-01/2013.

Collaborator on Wellcome Trust project grant (2007). Grant holder: Bundy Mackintosh. Title: "Alleviating anxiety through Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM)". Amount: £270,367. Duration: 4 years (03/2007-03/2011).

Supervisor for Biomedical Vacation Scholarships scheme (2007). Grant Holder: Davy Evans. Title: "The role of body state feedback in mindfulness training". Amount: approximately £1000. Duration: 6 weeks (07/2007-08/2007).

Research networks


John Campbell, Rod Taylor, Anne Spencer, Christabel Owens, David Richards, Kim Wright, Nigel Reed (all Exeter), Willem Kuyken (Oxford), Gerjo Kok and Nicole Geschwind (Maastricht), Michelle Moulds (UNSW), Richard Moore (Cambridge), Andy McLeod (Royal Holloway) - developing and evaluating Augmented Depression Therapy (ADepT project). 

Kim Wright (Exeter) - developing and evaluating a DBT approach for rapid cycling bipolar disorders(THRIVE project).

Thorsten Barnhofer (Exeter) - developing an adapted form of MBCT for treatment resistant depression. 

Victoria Pile (IOP) - developing ain imagery based intervention for adolescent depression

Rob DeRubeis and Steve Hollon (Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt) - reanalysis of anhedonia outcomes of CBT  depression trials

David Richards (University of Exeter) - secondary analysis of anhedonia outcomes of COBRA trial

Willem Kuyken and Chris Dickens (Oxford and Exeter) - developing mindfulness based cognitive therapy for depression in context of chronic health conditions (HeLM project)

Aliza Werner-Seidler (Black Dog Institute, Sydney), Susanne Schweizer, Fionnuala Murphy (both Cambridge), Nicole Geschwind (Maastricht) - evaluating mechanisms driving anhedonia using basic science mechanisms. 

Victoria Pile (IoP, London) - Developing a brief early intervention for adolescent depression. 

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