Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes

Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes

School of Psychology
Assistant Professor

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Stephanie Burnett Heyes is a developmental psychologist with expertise in adolescent and young adult social cognition, emotion, decision-making and mental health/wellbeing. 


Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (Merit), University of Birmingham (2019)

PhD, University College London (2010)

BA in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy (First), Oxford (2005)


Dr Burnett Heyes did an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Physiology and Philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2005). She then undertook a Wellcome Trust-funded four-year PhD in Neuroscience at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (2010) supervised by Prof. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and Prof. Chris Frith. Her PhD research investigated adolescent cognitive and functional brain development focusing on social cognition, emotion and decision-making under risk. Dr Burnett Heyes was awarded the British Neuroscience Association PhD Award for her doctoral research (2010) and was shortlisted for a WISE Excellence Award (2010) for her public engagement work with schools. Dr Burnett Heyes then completed a two-year postdoctoral position with Prof. Masud Husain at the UCL Institute of Neurology (2010-2011) investigating impulsivity and apathy in psychiatric and neurological populations. She then moved to the University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology to begin a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship researching adolescent social cognition and emotion (2011-2015). This included a period of secondment to Prof. Emily Holmes’ research group at the University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry to conduct experimental psychopathology research using experimental mental imagery paradigms. Subsequently Dr Burnett Heyes moved to the University of Birmingham School of Psychology in 2015 to begin a Lectureship.

Dr Burnett Heyes’ current research takes a multidisciplinary approach to better understand adolescent and young adult social interactions, emotion, decision-making and mental health. Dr Burnett Heyes has expertise in predominantly quantitative methods from experimental psychology and involvement in research collaborations incorporating qualitative and social network methods.


Dr Burnett Heyes leads the final-year module Adolescence: Mind and Brain.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Burnett Heyes supervises postgraduate projects in the following research areas:

  • Adolescent social cognitive development, including perspective-taking and social decision-making
  • Social factors in adolescent and young adult wellbeing, including the relationship between social interactions and mood
  • Adolescent and young adult wellbeing and emotional disorders, including self-harm and the bipolar disorder spectrum
  • Experimental psychopathology research on (hypo)mania risk/treatment mechanisms
  • Virtual reality interventions for adolescent issues e.g. gang involvement


ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9049-9559, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9049-9559

Scopus Author ID: 55191271200, https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=55191271200

Researcher ID: ABC-3156-2021, https://publons.com/researcher/4751515/stephanie-burnett-heyes/

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=AY2JQlEAAAAJ&hl=en


Current research projects:

  1. 1) Social networks and wellbeing in adolescents and young adults
    - What is the relationship between mood and social interactions? Is mood contagious in real-world social networks, and can young people support one another in times of distress?
    - Block P and Burnett Heyes S (2021). Sharing the load: Contagion and tolerance of mood in social networks. Emotion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33370141/
    - Press coverage: Guardian, Sun, National Geographic, BBC All in the mind
    - Ongoing projects in collaboration with Dr Per Block, Miss Delfina Bilello and others, conducted with intramural and ESRC DTP funding
  2. Risk-taking in virtual reality
    - Funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant and conducted in collaboration with Dr Juliane Kloess, this research project seeks to understand adolescents’ experiences of an award-winning virtual reality tool developed by our collaborator Round Midnight to start conversations with young people on difficult topics including gangs, weapon-carrying and violent/antisocial behaviour
  3. Mental imagery and mood in (hypo)mania
    - This project uses experimental mental imagery generation paradigms to understand cognitive risk and maintenance mechanisms of mood escalation in (hypo)manic episodes in the bipolar disorder spectrum
    - O’Donnell C, Di Simplicio M, Brown R, Holmes EA & Burnett Heyes S (2018). The role of mental imagery in mood amplification: An investigation across subclinical features of bipolar disorders. Cortex. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28912037/
  4. Social factors in adolescent self-harm
    - Midland ESRC DTP-funded PhD project conducted by Delfina Bilello, supervised by Dr Burnett Heyes and co-supervised by Prof. Ellen Townsend (University of Nottingham) takes a sequential mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) approach to understand the social (peer) context of adolescent self-harm
  5. Adolescent social cognitive development
    - Perspective-taking and social decision-making in real-world adolescent peer relationships
    - Doctoral research conducted by Dr David Pollard, supervised by Dr Burnett Heyes and Prof. Ian Apperly


(preprint) Vannucci C, Bonsall M, Di Simplicio M, McMullan A, Holmes EA, Burnett Heyes S (in prep). Positive moods are all alike? Differential amplification effects of 'elated' vs. 'calm' mental imagery in young adults reporting hypomanic-like experiences. https://psyarxiv.com/7zmep/

(PROSPERO protocol) Bilello B, Townsend E, Armstrong G, Kumar B, Burnett Heyes S. Friendships and self-harm: a systematic review of the role of peers in self-harm in young people. PROSPERO 2020 CRD42020224223 https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42020224223

O'Donnell C, Di Simplicio M & Burnett Heyes S (2020). Hypomanic-like experiences and spontaneous emotional mental imagery. Journal of Affective Disorders, 277, 242-246. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32919295/

Block, P. & Burnett Heyes, S. (2020). Sharing the load: Contagion and tolerance of mood in social networks. Emotion advance online publicationhttps://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000952

Burnett Heyes, S. (2020). Just banter? Friendship, teasing and experimental aggression in adolescent peer networks. Developmental Science 23(3), e12926. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31762124/

Block, P., Heathcote, L.C., & Burnett Heyes, S. (2018). Social interaction and pain: An arctic expedition. Social Science and Medicine, 196: 47-55. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29127852/

O'Donnell, C., Di Simplicio, M., Brown, R., Holmes, E.A., & Burnett Heyes, S. (2017). The role of mental imagery in mood amplification: An investigation across subclinical features of bipolar disorders. In press at Cortex. 

Voogd, L., de Hullu, E., Burnett Heyes, S., Blackwell, S. E., Wiers, R. W., & Saleminck, E. (2017). Imagine the bright side of life: a randomized controlled trial of two types of interpretation bias modification procedure targeting adolescent anxiety and depression. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181147. 

Burnett Heyes, S., Pictet, A., Mitchell, H., Raeder, S. M., Lau, J. Y. F., Holmes, E. A., & Blackwell, S. E. (2017). Mental imagery-based training to modify mood and cognitive bias in adolescents: Effects of valence and perspective. Cognitive Therapy and Research 41(1), 73-88. 

Ji, J. L., Burnett Heyes, S., MacLeod, C., & Holmes, E. A. (2016). Emotional mental imagery as simulation of reality: Fear and beyond. Behavior Therapy 47, (5), 702-719.  

Burnett Heyes, S., Zokaei, N., & Husain, M. (2016). Longitudinal development of visual working memory precision in childhood and early adolescence. Cognitive Development 39: 36-44

Holmes, E. A., Blackwell, S., Burnett Heyes, S., Renner, F., & Raes, F. (2016). Mental imagery in depression: Phenomenology, potential mechanisms, and treatment implications. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 12: 249-280. 

Ng, R. M., Burnett Heyes, S., McManus, F., Kennerley, H., & Holmes, E. A. (2015). Bipolar risk and mental imagery susceptibility in a representative sample of Chinese adults residing in the community. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 62(2): 110-113.

Burnett Heyes, S., Rong-Jih, Y., Block, P., Hiu, C. F., Holmes, E. A. & Lau, J. Y. F. (2015). Relationship reciprocation modulates resource allocation in adolescent social networks: Developmental effects. Child Development, 86(5): 1489-1506. 

Zokaei, N., Burnett Heyes, S., Gorgoraptis, N., Budhdeo, S., & Husain, M. (2014). Working memory recall precision is a more sensitive index than span. Journal of Neuropsychology,doi: 10.1111/jnp.12052

Bonnelle, V., Veromann, K. R., Burnett Heyes, S., Lo Sterzo, E., Manohar, S., & Husain, M. (in press). Characterization of reward and effort mechanisms in apathy. Journal of Physiology-Paris

Klapwijk, E. T., Goddings, A. L., Burnett Heyes S., Bird G., Viner R. & Blakemore S. J. (2013). Increased functional connectivity with puberty within the mentalising network involved in social emotion processing. Hormones and Behavior, 64(2), 314-322.

Burnett Heyes, S., Lau, J. Y. F. & Holmes, E. A. (2013). Mental imagery, emotion and psychopathology across child and adolescent development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 5, 119-133.

Pearson, D. G., Deeprose, C., Wallace-Hadrill, S. M. A., Burnett Heyes, S. & Holmes, E. A. (2013). Assessing mental imagery in clinical psychology: A review of imagery measures and a guiding framework. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(1): 1-23.

Goddings, A.-L., Burnett Heyes, S., Bird, G., Viner, R. M. & Blakemore, S.-J. (2012). The relationship between puberty and social emotion processing. Developmental Science, 15(6), 801-811.

Burnett Heyes, S., Adam, R. J., Urner, M., van der Leer, L., Bahrami, B., Bays, P. M. & Husain, M. (2012). Impulsivity and rapid decision-making for reward. Frontiers in Psychology,3(153).

Burnett Heyes, S., Zokaei, N., van der Staaij, I., Bays, P. M. & Husain, M. (2012). Development of visual working memory precision in childhood.Developmental Science, 4, 528-539.

Burnett, S., Sebastian, C., Cohen Kadosh, K & Blakemore, S. J. (2011). The social brain in adolescence: Evidence from functional magnetic brain imaging. Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, 35(8),1654-64.

Richardson, F. M., Ramsden, S., Ellis, C., Burnett, S., Megnin, O., Catmur, C., Schofield, T. M., Leff, A. P. & Price, C. J. (2011). Auditory short-term memory capacity correlates with grey matter density in the left posterior superior temporal sulcus in cognitively normal and dyslexic adults. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(12), 3746-56.

Burnett, S., Thompson, S. S., Bird, G. & Blakemore, S. J. (2011). Pubertal development of the understanding of social emotions. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(6):681-689.

Burnett, S. & Husain, M. (2011). Cognitive neuroscience: Distinguishing self from other. Dispatch for Current Biology 21(5),R189-R190.

Jones, A. P., Happé, F. G. E., Gilbert, F., Burnett, S. & Viding, E. (2010). Feeling, caring, knowing: Different types of empathy deficit in boys with psychopathic tendencies and autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(11), 1188-1197.

Blakemore, S. J., Burnett, S. & Dahl, R. E. (2010). The role of puberty in the developing adolescent brain. Human Brain Mapping, 31(6),926-933.

Burnett, S., Bault, N., Coricelli, G. & Blakemore, S. J. (2010). Adolescents' heightened risk-seeking in a probabilistic gambling task. Cognitive Development, 25(2), 183-196.

Burnett, S. & Blakemore, S. J. (2009). Functional connectivity during a social emotion task in adolescents and in adults. European Journal of Neuroscience 29(6), 1294-1301.

Burnett, S., Bird, G., Moll, J., Frith, C. & Blakemore, S. J. (2009). Development during adolescence of the neural processing of social emotion. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21(9), 1736-1750.

Burnett, S. & Blakemore, S. J. (2009). The development of adolescent social cognition. Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 1167,51-56.

Sebastian, C., Burnett, S. & Blakemore, S. J. (2008). Development of the self-concept during adolescence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 12(11),441-446.

Solberg, L. C., Valdar, W., Gauguier, D., Nunez, G., Taylor, A., Burnett, S., Arbodelas-Hita, C., Hernandez-Pliego, P., Davidson, S., Burns, P., Bhattacharya, S., Hough, T., Higgs, D., Klenerman,, Klenerman, P., Cookson, W. O., Zhang, Y., Deacon, R. M., Rawlins, J. N., M,, Mott, R., Flint, J. (2006). A protocol for high-throughput phenotyping, suitable for quantitative trait analysis in mice. Mammalian Genome 17(2), 129-146.

Valdar, W., Solberg, L. C., Gauguier, D., Burnett, S., Klenerman, P., Cookson, W. O., Taylor, M. S., Rawlins, J. N., Mott, R., Flint, J. (2006). Genome-wide genetic association of complex traits in heterogeneous stock mice. Nature Genetics 38(8), 879-887. 

Book chapters and other non-peer reviewed publications

Burnett, S., Sebastian, C. & Cohen Kadosh, K. (2012). Brain development and the emergence of social function. In: Developmental social neuroscience and childhood brain insult: Implications for theory and practice. Anderson, V. & Beauchamp, M. (Ed.). Guildford, NY.

Burnett, S., Sebastian, C. & Blakemore, S. J. (2012). The social brain in adolescence. Encyclopedia of Adolescence. Levesque, R. J. R. (Ed.). Springer, NY.

Burnett, S., Sebastian C. & Blakemore S. J. (2009). Understanding the changing adolescent brain. Beyond Current Horizons programme, Futurelab.

Sebastian, C., Burnett, S. & Blakemore, S. (2009). The neuroscience of social cognition in teenagers: Implications for inclusion in society. Foresight Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing, Office of Science and Innovation.

Burnett, S. (2009). «L'intelligence sociale des adolescents». La Recherche.

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