The research interests of Dr Poppy Watson lie at the intersection of motivation, attention and choice behaviour. The mechanisms that underlie reward-seeking behaviour are investigated in both healthy individuals and patient populations and this research aims to understand how and why maladaptive and compulsive reward seeking behaviour arises (i.e. as seen in addiction and obesity). She is also involved in intervention projects (to improve treatment outcomes for clinical patients and measuring efficacy of these interventions) and is interested more generally in health psychology and behaviour change.
Key Words: associative learning, reward, attention, control, addiction, habits, goal-directed, Pavlovian-instrumental transfer, EEG, eye tracking, fMRI, DTI
Originally from New Zealand, Poppy Watson completed her Masters (2011) and PhD (2016) at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. There, she investigated reward-seeking behaviours and how these could be triggered by cues in the environment. Poppy has been working at UNSW since 2017 and received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) in 2020 to pursue her research interests. Current projects are focused on the capture of attention by reward-related stimuli, as well as possible strategies that might minimize such distraction, "difficulties in disengaging attention" from threat-related stimuli in anxiety, and cognitive bias modification as adjunct to treatment-as-usual in order to reduce relapse in alcohol-dependent individuals.