Professor Elaine Fox

Professor Elaine Fox

Director of the Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience

Elaine is fascinated by why some people are resilient and can deal with whatever life throws at them, while others are fragile and at risk of developing anxiety and depression. Her scientific discoveries on optimism, happiness and optimal mental health have been discussed widely across the national media.

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Elaine is a psychologist and neuroscientist who has researched widely on the science of emotions.

Elaine grew up in Dublin and spent her formative years working at St James Hospital Dublin and the University College Dublin. From here she worked at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the University of Essex where she was Head of the Department of Psychology & Centre for Brain Science from 2007- 2010, before moving to the University of Oxford in 2013.

Elaine is currently a Research Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford and is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Emotions & Affective Neuroscience (OCEAN). Here she leads a program of research combining cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, and genetics. She has recently been awarded an ERC Advanced Investigator Award to support her research in the development of emotional vulnerability and resilience. Her work has been discussed in Nature, Science, New Scientist, The Economist, and the New York Times.

Elaine’s scientific discoveries on optimism, happiness and optimal mental health have been discussed widely across the national media, and led to her appearance in an ABC documentary presented by Michael J. Fox entitled ‘The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist’ in 2010. She also appeared in BBC Horizon documentary called ‘The Truth about Personality’ in which Elaine attempted to shift the presenter Michael Mosley’s brain from pessimism to optimism.

Elaine has also published widely on the scientific aspects of fear and anxiety, and her work, which has appeared in many leading scientific journals, has been summarised for the non-specialist in her latest book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism.

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Health & Wellness

Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: The New Science of Optimism and Pessimism

Drawing on her own cutting-edge research, Fox shows how we can retrain our brains to brighten our lives and learn to flourish. With keen insights into how genes, life experiences and cognitive processes interleave together to make us who we are, Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain revolutionises our basic concept of individuality. We learn that we can influence our own personalities, and that our lives are only as 'sunny' or as 'rainy' as we allow them to be...

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Emotion Science

Emotion Science is a state-of-the-art introduction to the study of emotion. Drawing on a wide array of research from psychology and neuroscience, the author presents an integrated picture of our current understanding of normal as well as disordered emotions such as anxiety and depression. The author draws a clear distinction between emotions, moods and feelings, and suggests how they can be understood within an integrated model...

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Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain: How to Retrain Your Brain to Overcome Pessimism and Achieve a More Positive Outlook

In Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain , Fox describes a range of techniques- from traditional cognitive behavioural therapy to innovative cognitive-retraining exercises- that can actually alter our brains' circuitry, strengthening specific thought processes by exercising the neural systems that control them. The implications are enormous: lifelong pessimists can train themselves to think positively and find happiness, while pleasure-seekers inclined toward risky or destructive behaviour can take control of their lives...

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