Pioneering research by a De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) academic which may help identify children who are more prone to developing mental health difficulties in later life was among some of the most read in the world last year.
Dr Antonios Christou has joined the Psychology Division at DMU under the VC2020 scheme, which recruits academics to further develop DMU's research activity and reputation for innovative teaching.
Dr Christou's research was published in the 'Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience' Journal. Frontiers is an innovative "open-access" academic publisher, which means it allows anybody in the world to look up, share and discuss scientific developments.
Among the 12,500 different publications which appeared in Frontiers in 2015, Dr Christou's work was in the top 100 most seen and downloaded papers anywhere in the world.
Dr Christou said: "It is exciting to know that our collaborative innovative research has received such significant attention. Considering the accessibility an open-access journal allows this figure implies a reliable indicator of the impact of our research in the wider community."
In his research Dr Christou, Lecturer in Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, and his colleagues, showed for the first time how a simple experiment involving healthy children aged four to seven could help predict if they may be susceptible to mental health and behavioural problems as they get older.
Dr Christou used the latest eye-tracking machinery on the children, who were shown two pictures side-by-side of an emotional (angry/happy) face and a neutral face. Their viewing patterns of these pictures were then measured.
The study has revealed their reactions early in life, in combination with life events, may predict the appearance of behavioural problems later. The research could help scientists in the future track a child's development and offer them tailored support to avoid future mental health issues.
Dr Christou is currently focusing on investigating children's reactions in the longer term - especially in relation to the complex influences of a child's genes and the environment the child is brought up in - that may answer why some individuals are susceptible to better or worse mental health throughout their life.
Dr Christou obtained a PhD in Psychology from the University of Birmingham School of Psychology, funded by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY).
He specialised in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology under the supervision of Dr Joe McCleery. He later completed two years of postdoctoral training at the Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, University of Birmingham, where he worked with Professor Chris Miall in a Wellcome Trust-funded project examining the neurobiological underpinnings of human sensory-motor functioning. He joined DMU in December 2015.
Posted on Wednesday 23rd March 2016