Dr Simon Blackwell


I was an investigator scientist, and then a visiting scientist, at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (until end of 2017), and am now a post-doctoral researcher at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. The focus of my research is on positive mental imagery and its potential use in interventions for disorders such as depression.

Research Focus


Mental Imagery


Cognitive Bias Modification

Clinical conditions

Bipolar disorder

Depressive disorders


Experimental Psychopathology

Randomised control trials


No collaborators listed

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Blackwell SE, Holmes EA (2017), “Brightening the day with flashes of positive mental imagery: A case study of an individual with depression” Journal of Clinical Psychology 73: 579-589 PDF

    Blackwell SE, Woud ML, MacLeod C (2017), “A question of control? Examining the role of control conditions in experimental psychopathology using the example of cognitive bias modification research” Spanish Journal of Psychology 20: E54

    Ji JL, Holmes EA, Blackwell SE (2017), “Seeing light at the end of the tunnel: positive prospective mental imagery and optimism in depression” Psychiatry Research 247: 155-162 PDF

    Holmes EA, Blackwell SE, Burnett Heyes S, Renner F, Raes, F (2016), “Mental imagery in depression: phenomenology, potential mechanisms, and treatment implications” Annu Rev Clin Psychol 12

    Blackwell SE, Browning M, Mathews A, Pictet A, Welch J, Davies J, Watson P, Geddes JR, Holmes EA (2015), “Positive Imagery-Based Cognitive Bias Modification as a Web-Based Treatment Tool for Depressed Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Clin Psychol Sci 3(1):91-111 PDF Details

    Blackwell SE, Holmes EA (2010), “Modifying interpretation and imagination in clinical depression: A single case series using cognitive bias modification” Appl Cognitive Psych 24(3): 338-350



    Burnett Heyes S, Pictet A, Mitchell H, Raeder SM, Lau JYF, Holmes EA, Blackwell SE (2017), “Mental imagery-based training to modify mood and cognitive bias in adolescents” Cognitive Therapy and Research 41: 73-88 PDF

    Cwik JC, Till B, Bieda A, Blackwell SE, Walter C, Teismann T (2017), “Measuring attitudes towards suicide: Preliminary evaluation of an attitude towards suicide scale” Comprehensive Psychiatry 72: 56-65

    de Voogd L, de Hullu E, Burnett Heyes S, Blackwell SE, Wiers RW, Salemink E (2017), “Imagine the bright side of life: A randomized controlled trial of two types of interpretation bias modification procedure targeting adolescent anxiety and depression” PLoS ONE 12(7): e0181147

    Hitchcock C, Werner-Seidler A, Blackwell SE, Dalgleish T (2017), “Autobiographical episodic memory-based training for the treatment of mood, anxiety and stress-related disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis” Clinical Psychology Review 52: 92-107 PDF

    Horsch A, Vial Y, Favrod C, Harari MM, Blackwell SE, Watson P, Iyadurai L, Bonsall MB, Holmes EA (2017), “Reducing intrusive traumatic memories after emergency caesarean section: a proof-of-principle randomized controlled study” Behaviour Research and Therapy 94: 36-47

    in press

    Iyadurai L, Blackwell SE, Meiser-Stedman R, Watson PC, Bonsall MB, Geddes JR, Nobre AC, Holmes EA (in press), “Preventing intrusive memories after trauma via a brief intervention involving Tetris computer game play in the emergency department: a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial” Molecular Psychiatry PDF

    Murphy SE, O'Donoghue MC, Blackwell SE, Nobre AC, Browning M, Holmes EA (in press), “Increased Rostral Anterior Cingulate Activity following positive mental imagery training in healthy older adults” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience


    Wannemueller A, Adoph D, Joehren H, Blackwell SE, Margraf J (2017), “Psychophysiological reactivity of currently dental phobic-, remitted dental phobic- and never-dental phobic individuals during exposure to dental-related and other affect-inducing materials” Behaviour Research and Therapy 90: 76-86


    Di Simplicio M, Renner F, Blackwell SE, Mitchell H, Stratford HJ, Watson P, Myers N, Nobre AC, Lau-Zhu A, Holmes EA (2016), “An investigation of mental imagery in bipolar disorder: Exploring “the mind’s eye”” Bipolar Disorders 18: 669-683 PDF

    Holmes EA, Bonsall MB, Hales SA, Mitchell H, Renner F, Blackwell SE, Watson P, Goodwin GM, Di Simplicio M (2016), “Applications of time-series analysis to mood fluctuations in bipolar disorder to promote treatment innovation: A case series” Transl. Psychiatry 6: e720 PDF

    Moss A, Curran HV, Bloomfield MAP, Kamboj SK, Blackwell SE, Freeman TP (2016), “Bringing together pharmacological and psychological approaches to mental health research” Lancet Psychiatry 3: 700-702

    in press

    Renner F, Ji J, Pictet A, Holmes EA, Blackwell SE (in press), “Effects of engaging in repeated mental imagery of future positive events on behavioural activation in individuals with major depressive disorder” Cognitive Therapy and Research PDF


    Murphy SE, Clare O'Donoghue M, Drazich EH, Blackwell SE, Christina Nobre A, Holmes EA (2015), “Imagining a brighter future: The effect of positive imagery training on mood, prospective mental imagery and emotional bias in older adults.” Psychiatry Res Details

    Stratford HJ, Cooper MJ, Di Simplicio M, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA (2015), “Psychological therapy for anxiety in bipolar spectrum disorders: a systematic review.” Clin Psychol Rev 35:19-34 Details

    Williams AD, O'Moore K, Blackwell SE, Smith J, Holmes EA, Andrews G (2015), “Positive imagery cognitive bias modification (CBM) and internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT): A randomized controlled trial.” J Affect Disord 178:131-141 Details


    Clarke PJ, Nanthakumar S, Notebaert L, Holmes EA, Blackwell SE, Macleod C (2014), “Simply Imagining Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows Will Not Budge the Bias: The Role of Ambiguity in Interpretive Bias Modification.” Cognit Ther Res 38:120-131 Details

    Rohrbacher H, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA, Reinecke A (2014), “Optimizing the ingredients for imagery-based interpretation bias modification for depressed mood: is self-generation more effective than imagination alone?” J Affect Disord 152-154:212-8 Details

    Torkan H, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA, Kalantari M, Neshat-Doost HT, Maroufi M, Talebi H (2014), “Positive Imagery Cognitive Bias Modification in Treatment-Seeking Patients with Major Depression in Iran: A Pilot Study.” Cognit Ther Res 38:132-145 Details

    Vassilopoulos SP, Blackwell SE, Misailidi P, Kyritsi A, Ayfanti M (2014), “The differential effects of written and spoken presentation for the modification of interpretation and judgmental bias in children.” Behav Cogn Psychother 42(5):535-54 Details


    Blackwell SE, Rius-Ottenheim N, Schulte-van Maaren YW, Carlier IV, Middelkoop VD, Zitman FG, Spinhoven P, Holmes EA, Giltay EJ (2013), “Optimism and mental imagery: a possible cognitive marker to promote well-being?” Psychiatry Res 206(1):56-61 Details

    Browning M, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA (2013), “The use of cognitive bias modification and imagery in the understanding and treatment of depression.” Curr Top Behav Neurosci 14:243-60 Details

    Williams AD, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA, Andrews G (2013), “Positive imagery cognitive bias modification (CBM) and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) versus control CBM and iCBT for depression: study protocol for a parallel-group randomised controlled trial.” BMJ Open 3(10):e004049 Details

    Williams AD, Blackwell SE, Mackenzie A, Holmes EA, Andrews G (2013), “Combining imagination and reason in the treatment of depression: a randomized controlled trial of internet-based cognitive-bias modification and internet-CBT for depression.” J Consult Clin Psychol 81(5):793-9 Details


    Davies C, Malik A, Pictet A, Blackwell SE, Holmes EA (2012), “Involuntary memories after a positive film are dampened by a visuospatial task: unhelpful in depression but helpful in mania?” Clin Psychol Psychother 19(4):341-51 Details

    Lang TJ, Blackwell SE, Harmer CJ, Davison P, Holmes EA (2012), “Cognitive Bias Modification Using Mental Imagery for Depression: Developing a Novel Computerized Intervention to Change Negative Thinking Styles.” Eur J Pers 26(2):145-157 Details

    Vassilopoulos SP, Blackwell SE, Moberly NJ, Karahaliou E (2012), “Comparing imagery and verbal instructions for the experimental modification of interpretation and judgmental bias in children.” J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 43(1):594-601 Details


    Holmes, EA, Blackwell, SE, James, EL, Hales, S (2011), “They flash upon that inward eye” Psychologist 24(5): 340-343


    Podczeck F, Blackwell S, Gold M, Newton JM (1999), “The filling of granules into hard gelatine capsules.” Int J Pharm 188(1):59-69 Details