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.


Swart, J., Froböse, M., Cook, J., Geurts, D., Frank, M., Cools, R., den Ouden, H. (2017) Catecholaminergic challenge uncovers distinct Pavlovian and instrumental mechanisms of motivated (in)action. eLIFE, 6. pii: e22169.

Edey, R., Yon, D., Cook, J., Dumontheil, I., & Press, C. (in press) Our own action kinematics determine the perceived affective states of others. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

Happé, F., Cook, J., & Bird, G. (2017). The structure of social cognition: In(ter)dependence of Sociocognitive Processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 68:243-267.

Cook, J., Murphy, J., & Bird, G. (2016). Judging the Ability of Friends and Foes. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 20(10): 717-719.

Edey, R., Cook, J., Brewer, R., Johnson, M., Bird, G., & Press, C. (2016). Interaction takes two: typical adults exhibit mind-blindness towards those with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 125(7): 879-885.

Cook, J. L. (2016). From movement kinematics to social cognition: the case of autism. 'Perceiving and neglecting other people' special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 20150372.

Cook, J. L. (2016) Disorders of social processing (invited book chapter). In Shared Representations: Sensorimotor Foundations of Social Life. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Sahakian, B., Bruhl, A., Cook, J., Killikelly, C., Savulich, G., Piercy, T., Hafizi, S., Perez, J., Fernandez-Agea, E., Suckling, J., Jones, P. (2015). The impact of neuroscience on society: cognitive enhancement in neuropsychiatric disorders and in healthy people. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 370(1677):20140214

Cook, J.L., den Ouden, H., Heyes, C. & Cools, R. (2014). The social dominance paradox. Current Biology. 24(23):2812-6.

Cook, J. L. (2014). Task-relevance dependent gradients in medial prefrontal and temporoparietal cortices suggest solutions to paradoxes concerning self/other control. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 42C: 298-302.

Cook, J.L., Swapp, D., Pan, X., Bianchi-Berthouze, N. & Blakemore, S-J. (2014). Atypical interference effect of action observation in autism spectrum conditions. Psychological Medicine. 44(4):731-40.

Cook, J. L., Blakemore, S-J. & Press, C. (2013). Atypical basic movement kinematics in autism spectrum conditions. Brain. 136(9):2816-24.

Cook, J.L., & Black, J. (2012). The influence of social interaction on cognitive remediation for schizophrenia. Frontiers in Decision Neuroscience special issue 'Neurobiology of Social Learning'. 6:140.

Cook, J.L., Barbalat, G. & Blakemore, S-J. (2012). Top-down influences on the perception of other people in schizophrenia and autism. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience special issue 'Towards a Neuroscience of Social Interaction'. 6:175.

Cook, J. & Bird, G. (2012) Atypical social modulation of imitation in autism spectrum conditions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 42(6):1045-51.

Santiesteban, I., White, S., Cook, J., Gilbert, S., Heyes, C. & Bird, G. (2012) Training social cognition: from imitation to theory of mind. Cognition. 122(2):228-35.

Cook, J. & Bird, G. (2011) Social attitudes differentially modulate imitation in adolescents and adults. Experimental Brain Research: special issue on joint action. 211(3-4):601-12.

Press, C., Cook, J., Blakemore, S-J. & Kilner, J. (2011) Dynamic modulation of human motor activity when observing actions. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(8):2792-2800.

Saygin, A.P., Cook, J. & Blakemore, S-J. (2010) Unaffected perceptual thresholds for biological and non-biological form-from-motion perception in autism spectrum conditions. PLoS One. 5(10): e13491.

Campbell-Meiklejohn, D.K., Wakeley, J., Herbert, V., Cook, J., Scollo, P., Kar Ray, M., Selvaraj, S., Passingham, R.E., Cowen, P. & Rogers, R.D. (2010). Serotonin and dopamine play complementary roles in gambling to recover losses. Neuropsychopharmacology. 36(2): 402-10.

Cook, J., Saygin, A. P., Swain, R. & Blakemore, S-J. (2009) Reduced sensitivity to minimum-jerk biological motion in autism spectrum conditions. Neuropsychologia. 47(14): 3275-8.

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