Dr Matthew Owens-Solari
Lecturer in Psychology
Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research F07
Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research, University of Exeter, Queens Drive, Exeter, EX4 4QQ, UK
Office hours: Tuesdays 1pm-2pm Fridays 10am-11am
- From 2005 to 2008 - PhD in Psychology, University of Southampton
- From 2004 to 2005 - MSc (Distinction) Research Methods in Psychology, University of Southampton
Matt started his research career as a Research Assistant at the Dorset Research Development and Support Unit with Professor Roger Baker. Here he worked on a clinical psychology programme developing an emotional processing paradigm. Matt gained his MSc in Research Methods at the University of Southampton, where he went on to win an ESRC-funded collaborative award with the School of Psychology and Hampshire Educational Psychology Service. His Phd focussed on how anxiety and depression affect working memory processes and academic performance in schoolchildren. He was supervised by Dr Julie Hadwin and Professor Jim Stevenson and examined by Professor Michael Eysenck (Royal Holloway, University of London). Matt then took a position as postdoctoral scientist with Professor Ian Goodyer in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge (2009-2014). In this role he tested and developed models of emotional disorder and psychological traits in large longitudinal cohorts. Matt is now Research Fellow at the MDC and Trial Manager for the multi-centre European trial (MooDFOOD) that will assess the effect of nutritional strategies on the prevention of depression.
Research group links
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.
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.
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).
Publications by category
Publications by year
M_Owens-Solari Details from cache as at 2019-08-20 23:36:59
External Engagement and Impact
Awards and distinctions
- 2014 - My paper on cortisol and depression was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – the fourth most-cited journal in the health and medical sciences
- 2012 - Published in the British Journal of Psychology, our paper on anxiety and cognition featured in the British Psychological Society Annual report
- 2012 - Accepted as postdoctoral member of Clare Hall College, University of Cambridge.
- 2008 - Winner of the Gordon Trasler Award (University of Southampton) honouring original work relating to the application of psychological research for the benefit of society
I act as a reviewer for a number of peer-review academic journals including:
- Psychological Medicine
- Biological Psychology
- Cognition and Emotion
- Anxiety, Stress & Coping
- Learning and Individual Differences
- Behaviour Research and Therapy
- Owens, M. (2013, March). Anxiety, working memory and academic performance in schoolchildren. Invited talk presented at the Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University, UK.
- Owens, M. (2012, December). Anxiety and Academic Performance. Invited talk presented at the Attention and executive functioning in high-trait anxiety: Implications for cognitive and academic performance workshop, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania.
Matt’s research has been featured widely in the media.
- Olson, S. Depression Medication Still Beats Out Sports; Exercise Alone Shows No Impact On Teen's Symptoms. Medical Daily.
- Dugan, E. Scientists find revolutionary ‘biomarker’ for clinical depression in teenage boys. The Independent.
- De Lange, C. Spit test could allow depression screening at school. New Scientist.
- Spencer, B. The spit test for depression: Saliva samples could predict a boy's risk of mental illness later in life. The Daily Mail.
- Associated Press. Saliva test could predict which teen boys get depression. Fox News.
- Collins, N. (2012, October 12). Pre-exam nerves may help. The Daily Telegraph. p 22
- Wellcome Trust. Computer test to identify youths at risk of depression and anxiety in later life.
- British Psychological Society. Exam anxiety can lead to better grades – as long as you have a good memory.
- BBC. Pre-exam anxiety can boost grades. BBC News, Education & Family.
- Sample, I. Computer test could spot children at risk of developing depression. The Guardian.
- McDermot, N. Arguing parents can give a child teenage depression. The Daily Mail.
- Kelland, K. Experts call for mental health screening for children. Reuters.
- Chinthapalli, K. Cognitive test can predict risk of mental illness in teenagers, say scientists. BMJ.
Currently I am teaching on the following Undergraduate modules:
- Classic studies in Psychology (PSY1126)
- Development Psychology and Psychopathology (PSY2306)
- Contemporary Issues in Psychology (PSY3403)
- Women's Mental Health (PSY3430)
- Psychology Research Project Supervision (PSY3401)
- Personal Tutor
Supervision / Group
- Ruth Spence 2nd Supervisor - University of Cambridge