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Rachel Mitchell


  • 1990

Personal profile

Biographical details

Rachel undertook her undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester, gaining a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Neuroscience. During her degree Dr. Mitchell developed an abiding interest in the overlap between these subjects, particularly in the context of the psychoses. She subsequently gained a Masters of Research in Neuroscience, during which time she gained laboratory experience in investigations of neurodegeneration, working with Dame Nancy Rothwell and Professor John Brotchie. She then joined the newly created Neuroscience and Psychiatry unit (School of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences) at the University of Manchester, chaired by Professors Bill Deakin and Shôn Lewis. She read her PhD under the supervision of Professor Peter Woodruff, and her doctoral thesis used functional MRI to examine whether reversed laterality for language in schizophrenia was caused by over-attention to prosodic features of speech. Her thesis also included an examination of the effect of antipsychotics on the decoding of prosodic emotion cues.

Whilst engaged in her PhD Dr Mitchell also worked for Medeval, a division of one of the world’s leading clinical research organisations. On completing her PhD, Rachel spent a further 6 months as a research associate in the Neuroscience and Psychiatry unit, during which time she gained further research experience in relation to new mothers with schizophrenia, psychiatric medication and functional MRI. She held posts at the University of Keele, University of Reading and Durham University, before taking up a post at the Institute of Psychiatry in 2013. At the Institute for Psychiatry, she is the Programme Lead for the MSc Affective Disorders.

Research interests

Rachel’s primary research interests concern the cognitive and neural bases of prosodic emotion comprehension, especially in the psychoses, partnered with a generic interest in impairments of social cognition. Related interests include lateralisation of function in the human brain, pragmatic language functions, and the processing of conflicting cognitive cues.

Current projects include:

  • Electrophysiological and behavioural bases of prosodic emotional processing in subtypes of bipolar disorder.

  • The contributions of impaired vocal emotion perception to dysfunctional sarcasm and criticism perception in the psychoses.

  • The resolution of ambiguous emotional communication by patients with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

  • Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in bipolar disorder.

  • fMRI studies of prosodic emotion comprehension.

  • Prosodic emotion comprehension dysfunction in older adults and its consequences.

  • Role of the basal ganglia in prosodic emotion comprehension and intensity.

  • The effects of Parkinson’s disease upon lateralisation of prosodic emotion comprehension.

  • The Schizophrenia Spectrum: A Faulty Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cognitive Control Mechanism for Semantic Processing?

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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