Melissa Barker

Melissa Barker


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Personal profile

Personal profile

Research Interests

My research focuses on Interoception, which refers to the sense of change in internal states within the body. This can include a wide range of sensations, from being aware of one’s own heartbeat, to experiencing feelings of hunger or thirst. I’m particularly interested in how individual differences in interoceptive abilities influence our emotions and higher order cognitive functions, as well as the contribution of atypical interoception to the development of psychiatric conditions. I first became interested in interoception in 2016 when I began investigating the relationship between emotional intensity and interoception for my masters thesis. I also examined the relationship between interoception and susceptibility to auditory distraction by emotionally valent words. My current research is focused on eating disorders and the way in which interoception may contribute to their development and/or maintenance. Furthermore, I’m interested in the role of adolescence in the development of mental health difficulties and atypical interoception.



I am proud to be a member of Insulab (, a lab group at Royal Holloway led by my supervisor, Dr Rebecca Brewer. Our lab focuses on how people perceive and interpret bodily signals, and the impact this has on social understanding, emotional experience, and the regulation of essential daily behaviours. I am also a Postgraduate Member of the British Psychological Society 


Educational Background

I received my undergraduate degree in Neuropsychology from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in 2016. I also received the Neuropsychology Award for the highest overall grade in my year. Following this, I completed a Masters by Research at UCLan for a thesis exploring the role of interoceptive abilities in emotional intensity and susceptibility to distraction by sound. I have also recently obtained a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Royal Holloway as part of my SeNSS 1+3 Award, for which I received a distinction.

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

Education/Academic qualification

Clinical Psychology, Master of Science, Royal Holloway, University of London

Award Date: 24 Oct 2019

Psychology, Masters (by research), The impact of interoceptive abilities on emotional intensity and susceptibility to distraction , University of Central Lancashire

Award Date: 1 Dec 2017

Neuropsychology, Bachelor of Science, University of Central Lancashire

Award Date: 1 Jun 2016