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Susan McHale

Dr Susan McHale BSc (Hons), PhD

Senior Lecturer

Summary

I carried out my undergraduate degree and PhD at the University of Plymouth. I have been a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University since 1995. During this time I have undertaken a variety of course leader roles. I am currently the course leader for the Psychology and Law BSc.

  • About

    My main teaching duties focus on psychobiological and neuropsychological approaches to psychology which I teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. I teach Psychobiology as a core module on the undergraduate Psychology degree. I also deliver two option modules for final year students based around my research interests. One on Addictive Behaviours and Neuropsychology. At masters level I teach on the MSc Applied Cognitive Neuroscience , MSc Developmental Psychology and MSc Psychology. I also supervise research students at undergraduate, master's and PhD level.

    I have two main areas of research interest which focus on psychobiological approaches to reward and stress and the interaction between these two constructs. My main research focus is on Cognitive Impairment Associated with Dopamine Dysfunction. My second area of research interest is on: Stress & Immunological Dysfunction in Relation to Hair Loss: in particular the Alopecias. This research was the subject of a BBC Radio Four Programme, along with several local radio discussions and interviews. With my co-researcher I am also closely involved with Alopecia UK, a charity devoted to helping people with alopecia. I am a member of the Management Committee, the Advisory Panel and the Research Committee, and have written several leaflets for the charity to help sufferers.

    I am a member of the British Psychological Society, and a Chartered Scientist. I am also a member of the UK Dermatologists Network.

    Psychobiological and neuropsychological approaches to psychology, psychobiological approaches to reward and stress.

  • Teaching

    Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

    Social Sciences and Arts

    Psychology 

    Psychology and Law BSc.

  • Research

    I have two main areas of research interest which focus on psychobiological approaches to reward and stress and the interaction between these two constructs.

    My main research focus is on

    Cognitive Impairment Associated with Dopamine Dysfunction

    Dopamine is the major substrate for the reward pathways in the brain and my research focuses on the ways that these pathways influence higher cognitive functioning and ultimately behaviour. This has led to me developing a model of this pathway based on attentional theory and testing this model using various research techniques and populations. So far, I, along with colleagues at the Open University, have built a robot that embodies the principles of the supervisory attentional system and tested the robot's behaviour after implementing the intact system and following systematic lesions to disrupt the pathways. Lesions resulted in abnormal behaviours by the robot that mirror some human conditions (eg Parkinson's disease).

    To examine attentional function further, I have studied higher cognitive function in children with attentional difficulties, and normally developing adolescents. This research is conducted with colleagues at SHU& Sheffield University.

    My interest in reward mechanisms has led me to examine behaviour relating to natural reinforcers (food and eating behaviour) and abnormal reinforcers (drugs and behaviours with abuse potential).

    Stress and Immunological Dysfunction in Relation to Hair Loss: in particular the Alopecias

    Alopecia results from autoimmune dysfunction. My interest in Alopecia as a research topic is that it is an example of the way in which stressful negative cognitions impact on physical health (Psychoneuroimmunology). Alopecia is also a disfiguring condition that has a significant psychological impact yet has largely been ignored by psychologists. My research - conducted with a colleague at the University of Nottingham - has shown that coping and social support for people with alopecia is critical to a successful outcome. Acceptance of acute hair loss is often impeded by an individual's sense of identity change and social phobia.

    This research was the subject of a BBC Radio Four Programme, along with several local radio discussions and interviews.

    With my co-researcher I am also closely involved with Alopecia UK, a charity devoted to helping people with alopecia. I am a member of the Management Committee, the Advisory Panel and the Research Committee, and have written several leaflets for the charity to help sufferers.

  • Publications

    Journal articles

    Taylor, S., Barker, L., Reidy, L., & Mchale, S. (2015). The longitudinal development of social and executive functions in late adolescence and early adulthood. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00252

    Cortes, A., Hunt, N., & Mchale, S. (2014). Development of the scale of perceived social support in HIV (PSS-HIV). AIDS and Behavior, 18 (12), 2274-2284. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-014-0902-0

    Taylor, S., Barker, L., Reidy, L., & Mchale, S. (2012). The typical developmental trajectory of social and executive functions in late adolescence and early adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 49 (7), 1253-1265. http://doi.org/10.1037/a0029871

    Day, C., Mchale, S., & Francis, J. (2012). Individual differences and preference for dietary fat using the Fat Preference Questionnaire© in a UK sample. Appetite, 58 (2), 679-686. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2011.12.013

    Scope, A., Empson, J., & Mchale, S. (2010). Executive function in children with high and low attentional skills : correspondences between behavioural and cognitive profiles. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 28 (2), 293-305. http://doi.org/10.1348/026151009X410371

    Mchale, S., & Hunt, N. (2008). Executive function deficits in short-term abstinent cannabis users. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 23 (5), 409-415. http://doi.org/10.1002/hup.941

    Hunt, N., & Mchale, S. (2007). Memory and meaning : individual and social aspects of memory narratives. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 13 (1), 42-58. http://doi.org/10.1080/15325020701296851

    Hunt, N., & McHale, S. (2007). A practical guide to the e-mail interview. QUALITATIVE HEALTH RESEARCH, 17 (10), 1415-1421. http://doi.org/10.1177/1049732307308761

    Hunt, N., & McHale, S. (2007). Psychosocial aspects of andrologic disease. ENDOCRINOLOGY AND METABOLISM CLINICS OF NORTH AMERICA, 36 (2), 521-+. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2007.03.001

    Hunt, N., & McHale, S. (2007). The psychological impact of alopecia. PSYCHOLOGIST, 20 (6), 362-364.

    Hunt, N., & Mchale, S. (2005). The psychological impact of alopecia. BMJ, 331 (7522), 951-953. http://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7522.951

    Hunt, N., & Mchale, S. (2004). Reported experiences of persons with alopecia areata. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 10 (1), 33-50. http://doi.org/10.1080/15325020490890633

    MOORE, S., & KENYON, P. (1994). ATYPICAL ANTIPSYCHOTICS, CLOZAPINE AND SULPIRIDE DO NOT ANTAGONIZE AMPHETAMINE-INDUCED STEREOTYPED LOCOMOTION. PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, 114 (1), 123-130. http://doi.org/10.1007/BF02245453

    Conference papers

    Day, C.J., McHale, S., & Francis, J. (2008). Building upon existing models of food choice; can temperamental personality variables explain individual differences in sour and sweet taste preference? PSYCHOLOGY & HEALTH, 23, 100.

    Garforth, J., McHale, S.L., & Meehan, A. (2006). Executive attention, task selection and attention-based learning in a neurally controlled simulated robot. Neurocomputing, 69 (16-18), 1923-1945. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neucom.2005.11.018

    Book chapters

    Farrant, P., & Mchale, S. (2014). Psychological impact of hair loss. In Bewley, A., Taylor, R.E., Reichenberg, J.S., & Magid, M. (Eds.) Practical psychodermatology. (pp. 81-89). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell: http://doi.org/10.1002/9781118560648.ch10

    Theses / Dissertations

    Reynolds, J.P. (2015). The age of onset of cannabis use and executive function. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Mchale, S., Barker, L., & Reidy, L.

    Day, C.J. (2009). An exploration of the relationships between personality, eating behaviour and taste preference. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Mchale, S., & Francis, J.

    Scope, A. (2006). Cognition in children with attentional difficulties with particular reference to working memory. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Empson, J., Mchale, S., & Nabuzoka, D.

  • Other activities

    Professional Activities

    Invited speaker: Confencia Internacional Facultad Odontologia. Universidad de Chile May 2011: The State of Development of Health Psychology in the United Kingdom, sponsored by Santander Bank & Colegate.

    Understanding Trauma. Nigel Hunt & Sue McHale. 2010. Highly commended in the International Medical Journalists Book Prize 2011. 

    Consultancy

    International Correspondence Schools Ltd: Writing study guides for distance learners

    Research Methods and Statistics, 1 & 2, (Level 5). March 07
    Clinical Psychology, (level 6) Feb 07
    Cognitive Neuroscience, (level 5) Jan 05
    Advisory panel member and committee member for Alopecia-UK. Alopecia-UK is a charity providing web-based support for alopecia sufferers. 2005-present.

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