Corpus Christi College Oxford

Follow Corpus Christi College Oxford on Facebook

Dr Catherine HarmerDr Catherine Harmer

Research Fellow

My research interests span experimental psychology, psychiatry and pharmacology. In 1998 I completed my PhD thesis on the role of the mesoamygdaloid dopamine projection in learning and reward at the University of York. Since then I have been based in Oxford and am currently a Reader in Cognitive Psychology and a research fellow at Corpus Christi College.

Research Team
I am the director of the Psychopharmacology and Emotional Research Lab (PERL) based at the University Department of Psychiatry in Oxford. This forms a multi-disciplinary team and includes graduate research assistants, DPhil students, post-doctoral researchers, Psychiatrists and Pharmacologists. The research of the group focuses on the psychological mechanisms of antidepressant drug action by exploring drug effects on human models of emotional processing. A range of methodologies are used, including neuropsychological testing, transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional neuroimaging with fMRI and PET in healthy volunteers and patient samples. This research has the potential to integrate psychological and pharmacological views of depression and treatment and has challenged the way in which we typically consider drug treatment for depression to work (see Harmer et al 2009). In addition this research has led to the development of human experimental models to explore the effects of established and novel drugs for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Such results therefore have implications both for how we understand antidepressants to work but also in the identification and development of new agents for depression and anxiety.

I am an examiner for the MSc in Neuroscience in Oxford and supervise MSc and undergraduate research projects in the field of depression and antidepressant drug action. I also supervise undergraduate library dissertations and have been involved in teaching for various courses in experimental psychology including psychological disorders and prelim psychology.

Example publications
Harmer CJ. Antidepressant drug action: a neuropsychological perspective. Depress Anxiety. 2010 Mar;27(3):231-3.

McCabe C, Mishor Z, Cowen PJ, Harmer CJ. Diminished neural processing of aversive and rewarding stimuli during selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor treatment. Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 1;67(5):439-45.

Harmer CJ, O'Sullivan U, Favaron E, Massey-Chase R, Ayres R, Reinecke A,Goodwin GM, Cowen PJ. Effect of acute antidepressant administration on negative affective bias in depressed patients. Am J Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;166(10):1178-84.

Harmer CJ, Goodwin GM, Cowen PJ. Why do antidepressants take so long to work? A cognitive neuropsychological model of antidepressant drug action. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;195(2):102-8.

Harmer CJ. Serotonin and emotional processing: does it help explainantidepressant drug action? Neuropharmacology. 2008 Nov;55(6):1023-8.

Norbury R, Mackay CE, Cowen PJ, Goodwin GM, Harmer CJ. The effects ofreboxetine on emotional processing in healthy volunteers: an fMRI study. MolPsychiatry. 2008 Nov;13(11):1011-20.

Miskowiak K, O'Sullivan U, Harmer CJ. Erythropoietin reduces neural andcognitive processing of fear in human models of antidepressant drug action. Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Dec 1;62(11):1244-50.

Miskowiak K, Inkster B, Selvaraj S, Wise R, Goodwin GM, Harmer CJ.Erythropoietin improves mood and modulates the cognitive and neural processing ofemotion 3 days post administration. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008

Network Design