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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr. Fairchild’s current research is funded by the European Commission, the Medical Research Council, and the Economic and Social Research Council, and in the past he has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the British Academy, and the charity Kids Company.  The majority of this work has involved using neuropsychological or neuroimaging approaches to understand individual-level factors that contribute to risk for developing antisocial behaviour and aggression, such as facial emotion recognition difficulties and changes in brain structure or function. 

The aim of Dr. Fairchild’s main research project, FemNAT-CD, which is a multi-site study taking place across several European countries, is to understand the causes of sex differences in antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents.  This is an important issue because there are substantial sex differences in the prevalence of severe antisocial behaviour, and antisocial behaviour is extremely costly for the affected individuals, as well as their families, and society in general. 

Another major project that Dr. Fairchild is involved in, the English and Romanian Adoptees’ Brain Imaging Study (ERABIS), seeks to understand the long-term consequences of institutional deprivation on brain development by studying the brains of adoptees who previously experienced varying durations of deprivation in Romanian orphanages.  This study uses advanced structural and functional neuroimaging methods to investigate the impact of early deprivation on brain development, activity, and connectivity.  As many of the adoptees have had positive outcomes, and have appeared to largely recover from their early negative experiences, another important focus of the study is understanding mechanisms of resilience – why is it that some adoptees show enduring mental health difficulties, whereas others appear to have overcome their earlier disadvantages and are adapting well to adult life? 

As well as these research commitments, Dr. Fairchild coordinates and delivers teaching on the Developmental Psychopathology and Biological Psychology modules within the Psychology undergraduate programme. 

Research interests

  • The neurobiological bases of antisocial behaviour and violence in adolescence
  • The development of the brain during childhood and adolescence
  • Sex differences in antisocial behaviour and psychopathology
  • The impact of trauma and adversity on the developing brain and risk for psychopathology
  • Behavioural economic and neuroeconomic approaches to understanding mental disorders

Recent news

'Map' of teenage brain provides strong evidence of link between serious antisocial behaviour and brain development

(This study was also covered in The Telegraph, The Guardian and several other national newspapers).

Willing to supervise doctoral students

Applications from prospective PhD students would be welcomed in any of the research areas described.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Psychiatry, Doctor of Philosophy, Glucocorticoid modulation of the serotonergic dorsal raphe nucleus, Newcastle University

Sept 2000Aug 2004

Award Date: 31 Aug 2004


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