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Affect, Personality and the Embodied Brain (APE)

Unit(s) of assessment: Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience

Research theme: Health and Wellbeing

School: School of Social Sciences


In the Affect, Personality and the Embodied Brain (APE) Research Group, we investigate cognitive and affective traits that influence our behaviour with particular regard to their biological underpinnings and application to understanding psychopathology. Our work encompasses psychometric and experimental investigation of traits (e.g., psychopathy, Machiavellianism, narcissism, sadism, reinforcement sensitivity, anxiety, empathy, impulsivity, schizotypy) and their associations with maladaptive behaviour (e.g., aggression, risk taking, antisocial tendencies) or psychopathology (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, autism).

In addition, we study brain-body processes such as the role of inflammation and gut microbiota for an integrated evaluation of brain and body function, to further our understanding of psychological mechanisms affecting risk and resilience for maladaptive behaviour, psychological disorders and other (physical) non-communicable diseases (e.g., cancer, cardiometabolic disease); with the view to discovery, development and evaluation of novel non-pharmacological interventions (e.g., nutrition, mindfulness based meditation, Havening, VR based interventions).

We use state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR) tools, neuroimaging methods (Electroencephalography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and blood assays (inflammation, fatty acids) to study these processes.


The APE Research Group works in collaboration with the following partners:

Nottingham Trent University:
Sports Sciences
School of Science and Technology
Van Geest Cancer Research Centre

Brunel University
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology an Neuroscience
University of Chester
University of Nottingham

Auckland University of Technology
Banaras Hindu University
Deakin University
University of Arizona
University of Cincinnati

Related staff

Core Staff

  • Dr Nadja Heym
  • Dr Alexander Sumich
  • Dr Antonio Castro

Associated Staff

  • Dr Loren Abell
  • Dr Mathew Belmonte
  • Dr Claire Bloxsom
  • Dr Filipe Christino
  • Dr Lee Hadlington
  • Dr Craig Harper
  • Dr Christina Howard
  • Dr Lai-Sang Iao
  • Dr Maria Karanika-Murray
  • Dr Daria Kuss
  • Dr Rebecca Lievesley
  • Dr Sarah Mcdonald
  • Dr Christine Norman
  • Dr Miriam Park
  • Dr Preethi Premkumar
  • Dr David Wilde

Research Assistants

  • Michael Pilgrom


Affect and Personality

Heym, N., Firth, J., Kibowski, F, Sumich, A., Egan, V., & Bloxsom, C.A.J. (2019). Empathy at the heart of darkness: empathy deficits that bind the Dark Triad and those that mediate indirect relational aggression. Frontiers: Psychiatry, section Social Cognition (special ed.: Empathy in a Broader Context: Development, Mechanisms, Remediation).  10: 95.

FIDO, D., SANTO, M., BLOXSOM, C., GREGSON, M. and SUMICH, A., 2017. Electrophysiological study of the violence inhibition mechanism in relation to callous-unemotional and aggressive traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 118, pp. 44-49. ISSN 0191-8869

PATERSON, J., MEDVEDEV, O.N., SUMICH, A., TAUTOLO, E.-S., KRÄGELOH, C.U., SISK, R., MCNAMARA, R.K., BERK, M., NARAYANAN, A. and SIEGERT, R.J., 2018. Distinguishing transient versus stable aspects of depression in New Zealand Pacific Island children using Generalizability Theory. Journal of Affective Disorders, 227, pp. 698-704. ISSN 0165-0327

SUMICH, A.L., MATSUDAIRA, T., HEASMAN, B., GOW, R.V., IBRAHIMOVIC, A., GHEBREMESKEL, K., CRAWFORD, M.A. and TAYLOR, E., 2013. Fatty acid correlates of temperament in adolescent boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA), 88 (6), pp. 431-436. ISSN 0952-3278

Embodied Brain

Heym, N., Heasman, B.C., Blanco, S.R., Wang, G., Siegert, R., Cleare., A., Hunter, K., Gibson, G.R., Kumari, V., & Sumich, A.L. (2019). The role of microbiota and inflammation in self-judgement and empathy: implications for understanding the gut-brain-microbiome axis in depression. Psychopharmacology (special ed.: Microbiome in psychiatry and psychopharmacology), 236, 5, 1459-1470.

Sumich, A.L., Anderson, J.D., Howard, C.J., Heym, N., Castro, A., & Belmonte, M.K. (2018) Reduction in lower alpha during Ganzfeld is associated with the production of images and trait positive schizotypy. Neuropsychologica, 121, 79-87.

Sumich A.L., Harris A., Whitford T., Hermens D.F., Anderson J., Heym N., Bloxsom, C., Kibowski, F. & Kumari, V. (2018). Neurophysiological Correlates of Excitement in Men with Recent-Onset Psychosis. Psychiatrica Danubina. 30, 1, 64-71.

WONGUPPARAJ, P., SUMICH, A., WICKENS, M., KUMARI, V. and MORRIS, R.G., 2018. Individual differences in working memory and general intelligence indexed by P200 and P300: a latent variable model. Biological Psychology, 139, pp. 96-105. ISSN 0301-0511

WANG, G.Y., TAYLOR, T., SUMICH, A., MERIEN, F., BOROTKANICS, R., WRAPSON, W., KRÄGELOH, C. and SIEGERT, R.J., 2017. Associations between immunological function and memory recall in healthy adults. Brain and Cognition, 119, pp. 39-44. ISSN 0278-2626

KUMARI, V., UDDIN, S., PREMKUMAR, P., YOUNG, S., GUDJONSSON, G.H., RAGHUVANSHI, S., BARKATAKI, I., SUMICH, A., TAYLOR, P. and DAS, M., 2014. Lower anterior cingulate volume in seriously violent men with antisocial personality disorder or schizophrenia and a history of childhood abuse. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 48 (2), pp. 153-161. ISSN 1440-1614

CASTRO, A., DÍAZ, F. and SUMICH, A., 2013. Long-term neuroplasticity in spinal cord injury patients: a study on movement-related brain potentials. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 87 (2), pp. 205-214. ISSN 0167-8760

PREMKUMAR, P., ONWUMERE, J., WILSON, D., SUMICH, A., CASTRO, A., KUMARI, V. and KUIPERS, E., 2014. Greater positive schizotypy relates to reduced N100 activity during rejection scenes. Neuropsychologia, 61. ISSN 0028-3932

Alternative Interventions

DOBORJEH, Z., DOBORJEH, M., TAYLOR, T., KASABOV, N., WANG, G.Y., SIEGERT, R. and SUMICH, A., 2019. Spiking neural network modelling approach reveals how mindfulness training rewires the brain. Scientific Reports, 9: 6367. ISSN 2045-2322

KRÄGELOH, C.U., MEDVEDEV, O.N., TAYLOR, T., WRAPSON, W., RIX, G., SUMICH, A., WANG, G.Y., CSAKO, R., ANSTISS, D., RANTA, J.T., PATEL, N. and SIEGERT, R.J., 2018. A pilot randomized controlled trial for a videoconference-delivered mindfulness-based group intervention in a nonclinical setting. Mindfulness, 10 (4), pp. 700-711. ISSN 1868-8527

MATSUDAIRA, T., GOW, R.V., KELLY, J., MURPHY, C., POTTS, L., SUMICH, A., GHEBREMESKEL, K., CRAWFORD, M.A. and TAYLOR, E., 2015. Biochemical and Psychological Effects of Omega-3/6 Supplements in Male Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Trial. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 25 (10), pp. 775-782. ISSN 1044-5463

VAN GORDON, W., SHONIN, E., SUMICH, A., SUNDIN, E.C. and GRIFFITHS, M.D., 2014. Meditation-Awareness Training (MAT) for psychological well-being in a sub-clinical sample of university students: a controlled pilot study. Mindfulness, 5 (4), pp. 381-391. ISSN 1868-8527