Investigating the Impacts of the Human Stress Response – Research Profile

Dr Alyx Taylor teaches Physiology and Research Methods, is a member of the School of Psychology, Sport and Physical Activity Research Ethics Sub-Committee and is a member of the Academic Board.

She is also the convener for the Research Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Science (CHESS).

We spoke to Alyx to find out more about her research and what makes her proud to teach at AECC University College.

Stress Response

“My research focuses on factors affecting the way people respond to stress, because this affects their physical and mental health.  Our bodies and minds are highly developed to keep us safe, including the "fight or flight" responses and our ability to learn from experience. However, this can become a problem if we can’t recover to a balanced and relaxed state. 

“My work is aimed at finding ways to help people manage stress in their lives, to improve their health and quality of life.

Postnatal Depression

“As a postgraduate, I chose to study biochemical aspects of postnatal depression, with the aim of early identification to get appropriate support. If the mother is supported effectively, the risk of cognitive or behavioural problems for the child are also reduced.   

“My research has widened to different age groups, including school children diagnosed with ADHD and university students coping with exam stress, but I am still working on helping mothers and babies.

“I was due to present at the 41st Stress and Anxiety Research Society (STAR) International Conference in Israel this year – but unfortunately, this had to be postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Fortunately, there are plans for another conference to be live-steamed, so we may well have the chance to present our work later this year.

“My presentation shows the relationship between a positive psychological factor, known as sense of coherence, and a reduced risk of postnatal depression. This is very exciting work and could be used to help protect women from developing postnatal depression.  

Proud to be AECC

“I’m proud to teach at AECC for so many reasons; there is such an energy and a positive approach to life here. If I had to pick one thing, I think it would be the professional and caring attitude of our senior students who work with patients and clients in our clinics and sport and exercise facilities.”

Other Research Interests    

“Other projects that I am currently leading include exploring the facilitators and barriers to exercise referral schemes for those at high risk of, or diagnosis of, cardiovascular disease.  

“My group is continuing the work on our programme of inclusive physical exercise for the management of ADHD symptoms in children.

 “I am also leading an international team exploring the effectiveness of novel psychological interventions for stress management.”

You can read more about Alyx here and download her latest research paper on the link between sense of coherence and a reduced risk of postnatal depression here.