Professor Jennifer Cook PhD

Professor Jennifer Cook

School of Psychology
Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Cook’s work investigates action and social cognition in typically developed adults and those with autism spectrum conditions.

With respect to action Professor Cook and her colleagues have shown that autistic adults move with subtly different kinematics compared to typical controls (Cook, Blakemore and Press, 2013, Brain). Such atypical kinematics can impact on the perception, categorisation (Cook, Blakemore and Press, 2013, Brain) and imitation (Cook et al., 2014, Psychological Medicine) of others' actions. Professor Cook was awarded the 2014 Frith Prize by the Experimental Psychology Society in recognition of this work.

With respect to social cognition Jennifer and her colleagues have demonstrated considerable individual differences in social learning (the ability to learn new information from those around us) in the typical population and have shown that such individual differences are related to personality traits such as dominance (Cook, den Ouden, Heyes and Cools, 2014, Current Biology). Their ongoing work uses behavioural genetics and psychopharmacology to investigate the contributions of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin to individual differences in social learning.

Jennifer's future work seeks to investigate the overlap between action, social cognition and neuromodulators in both in the typical population and in people with autism.

View Jennifer Cook's website


Wellcome Trust four-year PhD programme in Neuroscience. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London., UK. PhD supervisor: Prof. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

First Class BSc (Hons) Psychology. Department of Psychology, University of Bath, UK


Professor Cook completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Bath in 2007. She then completed a Wellcome Trust-funded PhD in Neuroscience at University College London (2007-2011). This programme included a 3 year project, in Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore's lab, investigating "Action observation and imitation in typical individuals and adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions". Following this Professor Cook joined Professor Barbara Sahakian's group at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge (2011-2012). In Cambridge she researched novel methods of cognitive training and was also a Research Fellow of Magdalene College. Subsequently Professor Cook moved to the Donder’s Institute in The Netherlands where she began to study social learning with Professor Roshan Cools. In 2014 Professor Cook took up a lectureship at City University London where she continued to study social learning and began to extend these studies into the field of autism research. Professor Cook has been a Birmingham Fellow at the University of Birmingham since September 2015.

Postgraduate supervision

PhD students: Students interested in working with Professor Cook should email/call her to discuss potential funding opportunities. For further information regarding the PhD application process see the 'how to apply' section of the Psychology PhD programme.

Postdoctoral researchers: Professor Cook is also looking for good postdoctoral researchers and can advise and assist with obtaining funding. Please contact her to discuss further.


Research interests

Autism; Social learning; Movement kinematics; Motor control; Dopamine; Serotonin; Imitation; Biological motion processing

View Google Scholar page

Other activities

09/2013: Consultant Neuroscientist for BBC 1 TV documentary on ASD, London.

03/2013: Consultant Neuroscientist for Fitzwilliam Museum exhibition, Cambridge.

2012: Consultant Neuroscientist for six-part Channel 4 TV documentary, London.

09/2012: Re-mapping autism roundtable discussion: reviewing UK funding for autism research. Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of Education, London.

08/2012: Consultant Neuroscientist for BBC 2 TV documentary, Cambridge.

06/2012: Government policy roundtable discussion, Department for Business Innovation and Skills Conference Centre, London.

06/2009: The Teenage Brain: teaching the general public about the development of the brain from childhood to adulthood. Royal Society Week-long Summer Science exhibition, London.


Highlight publications

Rybicki, AJ, Sowden, SL, Schuster, B & Cook, JL 2022, 'Dopaminergic challenge dissociates learning from primary versus secondary sources of information', eLife, vol. 11, e74893.

Cook, JL & Robinson, GE 2023, 'Comparative genomics and the roots of human behavior', Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 230-232.

Schuster, BA, Sowden, S, Rybicki, AJ, Fraser, DS, Press, C, Holland, P & Cook, JL 2022, 'Dopaminergic modulation of dynamic emotion perception', The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 42, no. 21, pp. 4394-4400.

Keating, CT & Cook, J 2023, 'The inside out model of emotion recognition: how the shape of one’s internal emotional landscape influences the recognition of others’ emotions', Scientific Reports.,

Sowden, S, Schuster, BA, Keating, CT, Fraser, DS & Cook, JL 2021, 'The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression production and recognition', Emotion, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 1041-1061.

Recent publications


Keating, CT, Hickman, L, Geelhand, P, Takahashi, T, Leung, J, Monk, R, Schuster, B, Rybicki, A, Girolamo, TM, Clin, E, Papastamou, F, Belenger, M, Eigsti, I-M, Cook, JL, Kosaka, H, Osu, R, Okamoto, Y, Sowden-Carvalho, S & Dey, A (ed.) 2024, 'Cross-cultural variation in experiences of acceptance, camouflaging and mental health difficulties in autism: A registered report', PLOS One, vol. 19, no. 3, e0299824.

Schuster, B, Sowden-Carvalho, S, Rybicki, A, Fraser, D, Press, C, Hickman, L, Holland, P & Cook, J 2024, 'Disruption of dopamine system function impairs the human ability to understand the mental states of other people', PLoS Biology. <>

van Schie, C, Cook, JL, Elzinga, B & Ly, V 2023, 'A boost in self-esteem after positive social evaluation predicts social and non-social learning', Royal Society Open Science, vol. 10, no. 5, 230027.

Keating, CT, Ichijo, E & Cook, JL 2023, 'Autistic adults exhibit highly precise representations of others’ emotions but a reduced influence of emotion representations on emotion recognition accuracy', Scientific Reports, vol. 13, no. 1, 11875.

Keating, C & Cook, J 2023, 'ExpressionMap: a novel method for indexing features of visual emotion representations', Cognitive Psychology Bulletin, no. 8, pp. 47-50.

Keating, CT, Fraser, DS, Sowden, S & Cook, JL 2022, 'Differences Between Autistic and Non-Autistic Adults in the Recognition of Anger from Facial Motion Remain after Controlling for Alexithymia', Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 52, no. 4, pp. 1855-1871.

Keating, C & Cook, J 2022, 'It’s all in the mind: linking internal representations of emotion with facial expression recognition', Cognitive Psychology Bulletin, no. 7, pp. 61-63. <>

Keating, CT, Sowden, S & Cook, JL 2021, 'Comparing internal representations of facial expression kinematics between autistic and non‐autistic adults', Autism Research.

Rostami Kandroodi, M, Cook, JL, Swart, JC, Froböse, MI, Geurts, DEM, Vahabie, A-H, Nili Ahmadabadi, M, Cools, R & den Ouden, HEM 2021, 'Effects of methylphenidate on reinforcement learning depend on working memory capacity', Psychopharmacology, vol. 238, no. 12, pp. 3569-3584.

Keating, CT, Hickman, L, Geelhand, P, Takahashi, T, Leung, J, Schuster, B, Rybicki, A, Girolamo, TM, Clin, E, Papastamou, F, Belenger, M, Eigsti, I-M, Cook, JL, Kosaka, H, Osu, R, Okamoto, Y & Sowden, S 2021, 'Global perspectives on autism acceptance, camouflaging behaviours and mental health in autism spectrum disorder: A registered report protocol', PLoS ONE, vol. 16, no. 12, e0261774.

Rybicki, AJ, Galea, JM, Schuster, BA, Hiles, C, Fabian, C & Cook, JL 2021, 'Intact predictive motor sequence learning in autism spectrum disorder', Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 1, 20693.

Schuster, BA, Fraser, DS, van den Bosch, JJF, Sowden, S, Gordon, AS, Huh, D & Cook, JL 2021, 'Kinematics and observer-animator kinematic similarity predict mental state attribution from Heider–Simmel style animations', Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 1, 18266.

Hickman, L, Keating, C, Ferrari, A & Cook, J 2021, 'Skin Conductance as an Index of Alexithymic Traits in the General Population', Psychological Reports, pp. 1-7.

Keating, CT & Cook, JL 2020, 'Facial expression production and recognition in autism spectrum disorders: a shifting landscape', Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 557-571.

Review article

Keating, CT & Cook, JL 2021, 'Facial expression production and recognition in autism spectrum disorders: a shifting landscape', The Psychiatric clinics of North America, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 125-139.

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