Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes

Anxiety and social motivation in Autism

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Social behavioural difficulties are commonly reported by individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). One of the leading theories suggests that these difficulties are brought about by a reduced reward response to social stimuli, i.e. individuals with ASC often do not ‘like’ social stimuli, leading to lower opportunities of learning from social cues, and consequent social behavioural difficulties. Work from our lab has shown how reward acts as a ‘thermostat’ for controlling certain aspects of social behaviour, and ASC might represent an atypical functioning of this thermostat (Sims et al., 2012; Sims et al., 2014; Haffey et al., 2013; Panasiti et al., 2015; Trilla Gros et al., 2016; Neufeld et al., 2016). Notably however, individuals with ASC also often experience anxiety, especially in social settings. This raises the question of whether some of the observed social behavioural features are driven by social anxiety rather than by a reduced reward response to social stimuli? The experimental approach will typically involve using multiple techniques, that include psychophysics, eye-tracking, psychophysiology, and fMRI (see for evidence of our multi-technique approach). Interested students are recommended to follow the guidelines for PhD students on the relevant lab webpage (

Funding Notes

1st/High 2.i Master's Degree in a relevant discipline (Neuroscience, Psychology, Data Science). Experience in conducting research is essential, though previous experience with ASC is not necessary. Exceptionally talented undergraduate students will also be considered.


Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here

The information you submit to University of Reading will only be used by them or their data partners to deal with your enquiry, according to their privacy notice. For more information on how we use and store your data, please read our privacy statement.

* required field

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.