Dr Matt Owens-Solari
Lecturer in Psychology


Research interests


Broadly speaking, my main research interest lies in the aetiology of emotional disorders, as well as in the consequences of common problems such as anxiety and depression in everyday life. I am particularly interested in how the environment, genes and endocrine activity interact with one another to influence cognition and predict psychopathology. My research has assessed the inter-relationships between both proximal (e.g. cognitive processing, morning cortisol) and distal (e.g. genetic polymorphism, early family adversity) factors in the development of mood disorders. Currently I am investigating the role of diet and nutritional supplementation in preventing depression in at-risk individuals.

Cognition and Emotion
A second research stream is concerned with the interplay between working memory and emotion, especially in academic contexts. For example, it has been shown that high levels of trait anxiety can disrupt working memory processes to artificially lower scores on tests of academic performance as well as ability.

Health Services Research
I have worked on Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (Cambridge and Peterborough) project evaluating the experiences of young people with mental health problems going through services transitions (mental health services or social services) into adulthood.

With former PhD student Dr Ruth Spence and Professor Ian Goodyer, I also have an interest in the relationship between temperament and personality. In particular, how these two factors may differentially predispose people to mental health problems and may influence their levels of mental health service use.
Throughout all my research I have taken a keen interest in a variety of multivariate statistical methods, including continuous and categorical latent variable modelling.

Research projects


I am the Trial Manager for the UK arm of the MooDFOOD multi-country randomised controlled trial on depression. MooDFOOD is a collaborative European Commission-funded project (€8.9 million) investigating the role of diet and lifestyle changes in preventing depression. The project is comprised of 7 Work Packages and involves 14 partners in 9 countries. The trial is a collaboration between Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. The University of Exeter (led by Professor Ed Watkins) is playing a significant role in the development and training of the behavioural intervention for the trial. Approximately one thousand people at risk of suffering depression, who are overweight with elevated symptoms but have no current diagnosis, will participate in the study and be followed up for a year. About 250 of these will come from the UK. In this work we are testing the effects of dietary and lifestyle coaching, either with or without taking nutritional supplements, on preventing depression.

Research networks

In my research I also collaborate with Professor Ian Goodyer and team (Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge) and Professor Jim Stevenson and Dr Julie Hadwin (School of Psychology, University of Southampton).

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