Dr Natalie Bowling

Dr Natalie Bowling BA, MRes, FHEA, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Psychology

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

Posts held previously:

  • 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

Responsibilities within the university

  • Module Lead: MSc Psychology Project
  • Academic Misconduct Lead (Human Sciences)


  • GRE Engagement and Communications Award


  • 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 the 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 others in the vicarious perception of touch and pain

Media activity


  • ITV News
  • BBC Breakfast


  • Radio 4 Today Programme
  • Radio 4 Inside Health
  • BBC World Service

Online and print media

  • Mail on Sunday
  • The Irish News
  • Vice Magazine
  • Stylist Magazine
  • Women’s Health Magazine
  • Oprah Daily

Recent publications


Vafeiadou, Aikaterini , Bowling, Natalie, Hammond, Claudia, Banissy, Michael (2022), Assessing individual differences in attitudes towards touch in treatment settings: introducing the touch and health scale. SAGE Publications. In: , , , . SAGE Publications, Health Psychology Open, 9 (2) . pp. 1-19 2055-1029 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/20551029221137008).

Dueren, AL , Bowling, Natalie, Vafeiadou, A, Madrid-Valero, JJ , Hammond, C , Gregory, AM , Banissy, M (2022), Perspectives on interpersonal touch are related to subjective sleep quality. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, Journal of Sleep Research, 32: e13766 (3) . pp. 1-14 ISSN: 0962-1105 (Print), 1365-2869 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13766).

Penton, Tegan , Bowling, Natalie, Vafeiadou, Aikaterini, Hammond, Claudia , Bird, Geoffrey , Banissy, Michael (2022), Attitudes to interpersonal touch in the workplace in autistic and non-autistic groups. Springer US. In: , , , . Springer US, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders ISSN: 0162-3257 (Print), (doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-022-05710-z).

Lena Dueren, Anna , Perach, Rotem, Banissy, Jasmine F. M., Bowling, Natalie , Gregory, Alice M. , Banissy, Michael J. (2021), Associations between tactile intimacy and sleep quality in healthy adults: a systematic review. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, Journal of Sleep Research, 31: e13504 (3) . pp. 1-13 ISSN: 0962-1105 (Print), 1365-2869 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13504).

Madrid-Valero, Juan J. , Bowling, Natalie, Vafeiadou, Aikaterini, Buysse, Daniel J. , Banissy, Michael J. , Gregory, Alice (2021), Sleep in adults from the UK during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, Journal of Sleep Research, 31: e13465 (2) ISSN: 0962-1105 (Print), 1365-2869 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13465).

Swart, Thomas , Bowling, Natalie, Banissy, Michael (2021), ASMR-Experience questionnaire (AEQ): a data-driven step towards accurately classifying ASMR responders. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, British Journal of Psychology ISSN: 0007-1269 (Print), 2044-8295 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/bjop.12516).

Bowling, Natalie C. , Botan, Vanessa, Santiesteban, Idalmis, Ward, Jamie , Banissy, Michael J. (2019), Atypical bodily self-awareness in vicarious pain responders. The Royal Society. In: , , , . The Royal Society, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374: 20180361 (1787) . pp. 1-12 ISSN: 0962-8436 (Print), 1471-2970 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2018.0361).

Botan, Vanessa , Bowling, Natalie C., Banissy, Michael J., Critchley, Hugo , Ward, Jamie (2018), Individual Differences in Vicarious Pain Perception Linked to Heightened Socially Elicited Emotional States. Frontiers Media S.A.. In: , , , . Frontiers Media S.A., Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 2355 1664-1078 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02355).

Bowling, Natalie C. and , Banissy, Michael J. (2017), Modulating vicarious tactile perception with transcranial electrical current stimulation. Wiley. In: , , , . Wiley, European Journal of Neuroscience, 46 (8) . pp. 2355-2364 ISSN: 0953-816X (Print), 1460-9568 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13699).

Gillmeister, Helge , Bowling, Natalie, Rigato, Silvia, Banissy, Michael (2017), Inter-individual differences in vicarious tactile perception: A view across the lifespan in typical and atypical populations. Brill Academic Publishers. In: , , , . Brill Academic Publishers, Multisensory Research, 30 (6) . pp. 485-508 ISSN: 2213-4794 (Print), 2213-4808 (Online) (doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/22134808-00002543).

Bowling, Natalie C. and , Banissy, Michael J. (2017), Emotion expression modulates perception of animacy from faces. Elsevier. In: , , , . Elsevier, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71 . pp. 83-95 ISSN: 0022-1031 (Print), (doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.02.004).