Vanessa Puetz

Vanessa Puetz

Dr. Vanessa Puetz is an Associate Professor in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at University College London and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Location London


  • Dear @ChristineDiLella Christine, thank you for your comment. It is in fact one of the biggest misconceptions that (f)MRI uses radiation but as you say, it *does not* which makes it a great tool for research. Warm wishes

  • Dear @CarmelaRoque - absolutely and sometimes we acquire a scan the shows us the activity of the brain at rest (so called "resting state fMRI" at rest but not asleep), but who knows what people think of while they are in there! So we need to scan many in order to get our stats right and make statements based on averages rather than individuals. Warm wishes

  • Dear @HarrietJordan, thank you! You're absolutely right a picture would be helpful as most people will not have encountered an MRI machine so here goes one for adults:

    Young people tend to find them less claustrophobic because they have a bit more space in there than us (and seem to be more adventurous in general)....

  • Dear @TessS - thank you for your comment and absolutely, researchers need to be very careful when interpreting this data, because arousing emotional states such as fear (of the setting), bad sleep or medication for example can all have an impact. This is one of the main reasons why we need a large amount of people in our studies to ensure that we have what...

  • Dear @GaryGladman, you are hitting the nail on the head with this question. How to measure these differences in responding and more importantly how to promote differences in resilience is at the top of our agenda and research minds. As both you and @susanking point out, the response is vastly different and we think that is because a myriad of factors plays...

  • Thank you @KarinaGrishina for clarifying. Warm wishes

  • Dear Linda, thank you for your comment. Do you think there is a correspondence between how a child manages situations and their brain function? Emotion regulation processes for example are underpinned by functioning in the prefrontal cortex, a brain area that has a very long developmental trajectory (until mid to end 20s). Warm wishes

  • Dear Teresa - thank you for your comment. It is indeed the case - as you point out - that the brain undergoes major reorganisation during adolescence. We think that this is a period where young people are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health problems, especially after experiencing maltreatment. Warm wishes

  • Dear Matthew, absolutely, the clinician and educator and many other professionals are needed to work on interventions hand in hand. We are advocates of the multi-perspective approach and think this is key to achieve best outcomes. Warm wishes

  • Thank you for this comment Jenna - I echo your thoughts, it is indeed the case that ultimately we conduct this type of neuroscientific research hoping that we can improve the support and treatment for young people. Warm wishes

  • Dear @GraceMcMillan, I echo what the others say - wonderful and inspirational to hear about all the efforts you are making to stay connected with the young people. Warm wishes

  • Dear Trevor, this is a very good question and I would say lack of resources due to poverty is quite different from neglecting a child's needs and also has been shown in research studies to exert different effects. Generally speaking, a carer who is economically well off can be very neglectful and vice versa, a carer with very low income and resources can be a...

  • Dear Shirley, several posts have included some statistics in Scotland, you might have to scroll back a bit. Warm wishes

  • Thank you for sharing this.

  • Some of you have asked for apps/websites to refer young people to. The AFNCCF has compiled one of the best websites out there for young people who seek help called "On my Mind" and I recommend you share it widely ( There is a section under "Urgent Help" where young people can find support services they can contact...

  • Dear @EllenKinsella - this is a great idea and seems to be a preferred way of communicating for young people. The AFNCCF has compiled one of the best websites out there for young people who seek help called "On my Mind" and I recommend you share it widely ( There is a section under "Urgent Help" where young people can...

  • Thank you Ruth, it is very encouraging to hear that you enjoyed the course. It took us a while to put it together and it is so rewarding to finally engage with people on the course - so thank you very much for your contributions throughout. Please stay in touch and let us know how we can improve the course in the future. Warm wishes

  • Dear @ChristopherHunt-Law Thank you so much for your kind and also insightful words. It is fantastic to hear that you found this course helpful for your own work in supporting young people. Do stay in touch with us and we are looking forward to hearing feedback in the future about how and when some of the information provided here was helpful and where we need...

  • Dear @JuliePovall, thank you very much for your comment - this is indeed what we hope to get across in this course: Risk factors such as maltreatment do not inevitably lead to mental health problems but it is a complex interplay of many factors that either lowers or increases risk. Supportive relationships have the potential to promote resilient outcomes. The...

  • Dear Ruth, this is such an important comment. I agree with you that better interventions are needed urgently - we do hope that understanding the mechanisms (for example neurocognitive like discussed here) have the potential to inform and pave the way for interventions that are targeted and effective. Warm wishes

  • Dear @RioDorbin Thank you very much for sharing your experience - you are describing phenomena we have researched in real-life scenarios. This is very much in line with what we will discuss from the educators perspective in week 3 and you will hear educators echo a lot of your observations working with young people who have experienced violence and adversity...

  • Hello Emma, absolutely - the NSPCC and Childline are resources that need to be shared with the community and both provide stellar support to young people in need.

  • Dear @CharlotteHerxheimer, thank you for your reply. This is indeed the big question that we are also thinking about at the moment. Some young people with pre-existing MH concerns seem to increasingly struggle under lockdown ( or...

  • Hello @KayleighFletcher and a warm welcome to the course! I echo your thoughts, maltreatment needs to be understood in its own right and exerts different and additive effects to other forms of adversity. I hope you enjoy the course and look forward to your thoughts!

  • Hello @SandraNíDhubhda, welcome to the course. There is evidence that different types of maltreatment are more prevalent in boys and girls. For example, girls are more likely to be sexually abused by family members than boys (Finkelhor et al. 1990) but boys are believed to be the victims of physical abuse more often than girls (Titus et al. 2003). However,...

  • Welcome to the course Akua!

  • @DawnHosmer, I absolutely echo that and agree that carers are in a really strenuous and unprecedented situation right now and need full support in the current situation more so than ever. There are some resources for Foster Carers specifically here, including helplines and "Virtual Days Out"....

  • @TanyaMorrison Dear Tanja, this is a very interesting question and something that we have been thinking about in the context of our research. I would say that negative and traumatic can be on one spectrum (traumatic being the extreme) and whilst it is often beneficial to remember negative memories to negotiate future stressors, the literature seems to indicate...

  • Welcome to the course Rachel. We really hope to raise awareness with this course, so glad to have you on board.

  • Welcome to the course Gemma. This is a perspective that we would like to hear more of throughout the course and learn about different cultural contexts.

  • Dear Emms, I am very sorry to hear about your experiences. If you or someone you know is suffering from a particular mental health condition being discussed during the course, or has experienced maltreatment themselves (also in the form of domestic abuse), we strongly advise that you or they always seek advice from a qualified mental health practitioner. There...

  • Thank you for raising this important point about safeguarding legislation providing protection for young people >16.

  • This reflection has been released today (27th of April) by the Anna Freud Centre's Dr Anoushka Khan who considers the impact of coronavirus on children and young people in care, and looks at the experiences of foster carers since the crisis started. I hope it is of...

  • Thank you for sharing this data from Brunei, very interesting.

  • Thank you very much for posting this data, Lea. As others have noted here in the discussion, the increase in help requests seems emerging in several countries in lockdown, interesting to see data from Germany.

  • Hello Gillian - that is a gap in research activity of several years, but might still be interesting to post and get an impression. Warm wishes

  • Thank you Mari - this is a very interesting and important read.

  • Dear Kim, welcome to the course. We will introduce and hear from a very experienced eductor in week 3, who co-founded an alternative provision school ('The Pears Family School'). I am looking forward to your contributions and learning from your vast experience as well.

  • A warm welcome to you Inès. You will hear from a clinical psychologist this week and hear more about what it is like to be a clinician in the field. Next week, we will introduce a research perspective. I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Welcome Christopher. I hope you find this course helpful in your work with this diverse group of young people.

  • A warm welcome to you Vicky. You work with a wide age range of young people, it is interesting to compare how the concepts we talk about apply or manifest differently in the different age groups.

  • Dear Gemma, a warm welcome. Your experience as a Children's Mental Health Nurse and Specialist Community Public Health Nurse will be highly relevant to the cases and concepts we discuss. I am looking forward to your contributions.

  • Dear Amy, welcome to the course. Week III will introduce you to a fascinating educator who co-founded an alternative provision school for young people. I hope you find her insights valuable for your future career.

  • Dear Maria, thank you! We are also looking forward to your contributions and hope you can add to our understanding of the intercultural perspective and let us know how you feel the concepts apply to young people in Columbia.

  • Prof. Greenfields claims have been controversial in the developmental psychology / neuroscientific community. Just for some balance in this discussion, interesting read on the scientific evidence

  • Absolutely agree with this statement - I am working in HE and we are currently undergoing a huge change how we teach university students, i.e. streaming lectures etc.

  • After reading the statistics on how many children own tablets and smart-phones, one question that is particularly interesting is how this development affects socially disadvantaged families and children in particular?
    Is there any existing research on this?