Stephen Jeffs
  • 2.53 Bob Champion Research & Education Bldg

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Personal profile

Professional Activities

I'm currently a Research Associate within the Neurodegeneration Network at UEA, and work to improve the early detection and support of people at risk of dementia and related disorders.

I design studies, build websites, and manage databases, to generate deep data that can discover new markers of dementia.

I gather behavioural, neuropsychological, and biological information from participants with and without a diagnosis of dementia, and track any changes in these measures over time.

I have a particular interest in social, emotional, and motivational functioning, as these phenomena provide unique opportunities to detect, diagnose, and even prevent, dementia.

Key Research Interests and Expertise



Emotion recognition

Motivation (apathy)


Social cognition



Data management (REDCap)

Ethics applications (IRAS)

Neuropsychology assessment

Online surveys (Mantal)


Study design

Task coding (PsychoPy)

Research Group Membership

Current Projects

DECISION - I'm the lead Research Associate on the DECISION Study, a Department for Transport funded investigation into the effects of cognitive aging on car driving.

TRACC – I co-ordinate the TRACC Study, a longitudinal project involving people with a recent dementia diagnosis.

Group Memberships

I work within Professor Michael Hornberger’s Applied Dementia Research Group at Norwich Medical School, which conducts world-leading research into the early detection of dementia using navigation tasks.

I’m part of the Neurodegeneration Network (NNET), a group of researchers from across UEA with a shared interest in dementia and associated disorders.

Academic Background

My PhD research investigated the interplay between cognition, emotion, and motivation, using the pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets as a real-world application.

I separated the effects of the cigarette packet, as a cue for nicotine availability, from the effects of the health warning, as an aversive emotional image. I showed that knowledge of the association between reward-related cues (e.g. a cigarette packet) and their associated reward (e.g. nicotine) was necessary to initiate reward-seeking (e.g. smoking). I also showed that an aversive stimulus (e.g. health warning) reduced the effort participants would expend to gain a reward (e.g. nicotine).

These results suggest that awareness of the relationship between environmental cues (e.g. cigarette packets) and nicotine is necessary for the cues to trigger smoking. However, people may take fewer puffs if they encounter unpleasant images whilst smoking.

Teaching Interests

I like engaging others with what I’ve learned, and helping them improve their understanding.

I’m a former teacher of A level Psychology, and excelled in designing, delivering, assessing, and improving the student experience.

I taught UG Statistics, Psychometrics, and Psychobiology whilst completing my PhD.

I’m an Associate of the Higher Education Academy.

I supervise MSc projects related to dementia.

I train other researchers to use a variety of neuropsychology assessments.


My early years were spent chasing tennis balls across the manicured lawns of east Devon, but when a family friend experienced a stroke, my interest switched from sport to psychology.

I moved east to complete my PhD in Brighton, on the topic of reward-seeking behaviour, and then worked for a year as an assistant neuropsychologist.

Now part of the Neurodegeneration Network at UEA, my focus is the early detection, diagnosis, and prognosis of dementias, with a particular interest in social, emotional, and motivational functioning.


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