In 2007, Carien co-established the Brain, Emotion and Cognition Laboratory (BECLab) at the University of Reading, UK. The BECLab seeks to understand the neural circuits that support cognition and emotion in healthy individuals - across the lifespan - and in individuals with mood disorders. The lab’s primary research techniques are brain imaging (structural and functional MRI, EEG) and peripheral psychophysiology (e.g. heart rate, skin conductance, facial EMG), in addition to recording task performance and behaviour (e.g. eye tracking).
Carien’s current research aim is to better understand the brain and cognitive mechanisms involved in emotion reactivity and adaptive regulation of emotion, how emotion regulation changes across the lifespan and how changes in the brain with advancing age - during ageing but also during adolescence - may drive changes in emotion and well-being. She works from the premise that adaptive responding in the face of emotional (negative) events is a key ingredient for well-being, and is interested in expanding this line of work to neurodegeneration, specifically dementia. Other research interests are the effects of exercise such as cycling on mental performance and well-being in older adults (see cycleBOOM), and how emotion influences attention and subsequent processing of information.
Prior to taking up her position in the UK in 2007, Carien was a post-doctoral researcher (2000-2003), then a scientist (2003-2007), at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, the precursor of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. It is during this time that Carien started developing an interest in ageing, through her involvement with the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, and the Midlife in the US study. Knowing a bit about emotion, but nothing about the Midwest, Carien arrived wide-eyed in the lab in February 2000, after obtaining her PhD from the University of Geneva. Reflecting the wonderful time she had working and living in Madison, Carien has maintained connections with the lab ever since.
The study of emotion is a passion of Carien’s, and she feels very fortunate to have been trained by leading experts in the field. Since 2013, Carien has been co-Editor in Chief of Cognition and Emotion, and she credits her former mentors for providing her with the foundations in affective science to perform this role. Visit the BEClab, have a look at Carien’s recent publications, check out the cycleBOOM project and preregister your research at Cognition and Emotion.