Skip to main content


Loading content
Dr Joana Vieira

Dr Joana Vieira


 Washington Singer 205


Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK


I am a Lecturer in the Psychology department, and a neuroscientist interested in fear and anxiety, empathy, prosociality and caregiving, and aggression. My current research aims to determine the role of neural systems implicated in defensive states like fear on care-based behaviours (e.g., altruism, offpsring care). I use a combination of techniques, including brain imaging, psychophysiology and behavioural testing. 

I am interested in hearing from prospective PhD students, research assistants and potential collaborators.



PhD in Neuroscience (2014) - University of Porto, Portugal 


FCT-funded PhD student at Georgetown University, USA (2011 - 2014).

CIHR Postdoctoral fellow at Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, Canada (2014 - 2018)

Postdoc and Researcher at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden (2018 - 2022) 



Research interests

Selected publications

Vieira, J.B., Jangard, S., Pierzchajlo, S., Marsh, A.A., & Olsson, A. (2021). Perceived threat and acute anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic were associated with increased everyday altruism. PsyArXiv DOI: 10.31234/

Vieira, J.B., & Olsson, A. (2022). Neural defensive circuits underlie helping under threat in humans. BioRxiv DOI:

Pan, Y., Vieira, J.B., Parnamets, P., Jangard, S., Cheng, X., Zhang, Y., & Olsson, A., Psychological well-being is associated with prosociality during the COVID-19 pandemic: A comparison of Swedish and Chinese samples (2022). Emotion (in press).  

Van Bavel, J. et al (2022). National identity predicts public health support during a global pandemic: Results from 67 nations. Nature Communications, 13.

Vieira, J.B., Schellhaas, S., Enström, E., & Olsson, A. (2020). Help or flight? Increased threat imminence promotes defensive helping in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 287(1933).  

Vieira, J.B., Pierzchajlo, S.R., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2019). Neural correlates of social and non-social personal space intrusions: Role of defensive and peripersonal space systems in interpersonal distance regulation. Social Neuroscience, 15(1), 36-51.  

Oliver, L.D., Vieira, J.B., Neufeld, R. W., Dziobek, I., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2018). Greater involvement of simulation mechanisms in emotional versus cognitive empathy. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13 (4), 367-380. 

Vieira, J.B., Tavares, T.P., Marsh, A.A., & Mitchell, D.G.V. (2016). Emotion and personal space: neural correlates of approach-avoidance tendencies to distinct facial expressions as a function of coldhearted psychopathic traits. Human Brain Mapping, 38(3), 1492–1506. 

Vieira, J.B., Ferreira-Santos, F., Almeida, P.R., Barbosa, F, Marques-Teixeira, J., & Marsh, A (2015). Psychopathic traits are associated with cortical and subcortical volume alterations in healthy individuals. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 10 (12), 1693-1704. 

Vieira, J.B. & Marsh, A. (2014). Don’t stand so close to me: Psychopathy and the regulation of interpersonal distance. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7:907.  

Vieira, J.B., Almeida, P.R., Ferreira-Santos, F., Barbosa, F., Marques-Teixeira, J., Marsh, A. (2014). Distinct neural activation patterns underlie economic decisions in high and low psychopathy scorers. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(8), 1099-1107. 

Almeida, P.R., Ferreira-Santos, F., Vieira, J.B., Moreira, P.S., Barbosa, F., & Marques-Teixeira. (2014). Dissociable effects of psychopathic traits on cortical and subcortical visual pathways during facial emotion processing: An ERP study on the N170. Psychophysiology, 51(7), 645-657.

Cardoso-Cruz, H., Sousa, M., Vieira, J.B., Lima, D., Galhardo, V. (2013). Prefrontal Cortex and Mediodorsal Thalamus Reduced Connectivity is Associated with Spatial Working Memory Impairment in Rats with Inflammatory Pain. Pain, 154 (11), 2397-2406. 



Supervision / Group

Back | Edit Profile