Dr Natalie Bowling

Dr Natalie Bowling BA, MRes, PhD


Natalie joined the School of Human Sciences as a Lecturer in Psychology in May 2020.

Her research uses a social neuroscience approach to investigate how we represent the
experiences of others (such as in empathy for pain), and how these representations impact
on conceptions of the self. Within this domain she has worked extensively with mirror-sensory
synaesthetes, who experience conscious vicarious sensations of touch and pain. Her recent
work has investigated individual differences in the perception of touch and the bodily self in
social contexts.

Natalie is also passionate about science communication and public engagement. She has
previously exhibited at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (2019) and the ESRC
Festival of Social Science (2018); and has worked with Scientists in Schools and Realising
Opportunities to support secondary students moving into higher education.

Natalie has experience in research-led teaching, and she enjoys lecturing on research skills
and supervising students in running their own projects.

Previously held posts

  • 2019-2020 Postdoctoral Research Fellow: The Touch Test. Goldsmiths, University of London
  • 2018-2019 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow: Awareness of the bodily self in vicarious perception
    University of Sussex
  • 2017-2018 Teaching Fellow, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • 2014-2017 Associate Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London


Peer Review: British Journal of Psychology, Emotion, NeuroImage, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Social Neuroscience

Membership: British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Social and Affective Neuroscience Society

Research / Scholarly interests

Natalie's research interests are in the cognitive and neural mechanisms of vicarious perception (such as empathy for pain) and the causes of individual differences within this social process. She has worked with individuals with conscious vicarious experiences (i.e. mirror-sensory synaesthesia) to gain insights into how we empathise with others. Her recent work has investigated vicarious influences on representations of the bodily self, across the adult lifespan. More broadly, she is interested in perception of touch and the body in social contexts. Her work uses behavioural and neuroscientific techniques, including non-invasive brain stimulation and EEG.

Key funded projects

2018 Economic and Social Research Council: Postdoctoral Fellowship (£91,354). Awareness of the bodily self in vicarious perception.

2014 Goldsmiths, University of London: PhD Scholarship. Distinguishing self from other in vicarious perception of touch and pain.

Recent publications

Bowling, N. C., Botan, V., Santiesteban, I., Ward, J., & Banissy, M. J. (2019). Atypical bodily self- awareness in vicarious pain responders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374(1787), 20180361. http://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2018.0361

Botan, V., Bowling, N. C., Banissy, M. J., Critchley, H., & Ward, J. (2018). Individual differences in vicarious pain perception linked to heightened socially elicited emotional states. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02355

Bowling, N. C., & Banissy, M. J. (2017). Modulating vicarious tactile perception with transcranial electrical current stimulation. European Journal of Neuroscience, 46(8), 2355-2364. http://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13699

Gillmeister, H., Bowling, N., Rigato, S., & Banissy, M. J. (2017). Inter-individual differences in vicarious tactile perception: a view across the lifespan in typical and atypical populations. Multisensory Research, 30(6), 485-508. http://doi.org/10.1163/22134808-00002543

Bowling, N. C., & Banissy, M. J. (2017). Emotion expression modulates perception of animacy from faces. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71, 83-95. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.020.004

Holle, H., Banissy, M. J., Wright, T., Bowling, N. & Ward, J. (2011). "That's not a real body": Identifying stimulus qualities that modulate synaesthetic experiences of touch. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(3), 720-726. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.002


Bowling, N. C., Botan, V. E., Ward, J. & & Banissy, M.J. (October, 2018). Atypical bodily self-awareness in vicarious pain responders. Poster presented at the Bridging the Senses: New Developments in Synaesthesia, London, UK.

Bowling, N. C. & Banissy, M.J. (March, 2017). Modulating vicarious tactile perception: Outcomes of transcranial current stimulation of SI on empathy for touch. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, San Francisco, USA.

Bowling, N. C., Ward, J. & Banissy, M.J. (July, 2019). Body representation across the lifespan: Evidence from mirror-touch synaesthetes and typical adults. Talk given at the 1st Research IN Touch Workshop, Nottingham, UK.

Bowling, N. C. & Banissy, M.J. (March, 2016). Increasing the excitability of the primary somatosensory cortex is not sufficient to induce mirror-touch synaesthesia. Talk given at the 4th Mind, Brain and Body Symposium, Berlin, Germany.