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Margaret Westwater


I am a PhD student in the NIH-Oxford Cambridge Scholars Programme, working under the supervision of Prof. Paul Fletcher in the Dept of Psychiatry and Drs. Monique Ernst and Christian Grillon at the National Insitute of Mental Health (NIMH). My research training began as an undergraduate Neuroscience major at George Mason University, where I assisted a functional MRI study of stress and cue reactivity in women with bulimia nervosa. In addition, I gained experience with electroencephalography (EEG) in a study of reward learning in adolescents and emerging adults. 

Prior to undertaking my PhD, I completed an MPhil in Medical Science (Psychiatry) with Prof Fletcher, and I examined the combined effects of age and body mass on cortical thickness in overweight adolescents and adults. Currently, I am using multimodal neuroimaging and integrative physiology techniques to assess the role of gut hormones, brain structure and cognition in patients who suffer with binge eating. 

Departments and Institutes

PhD Student


  • psychiatry
  • neuroimaging

Key Publications

Westwater, ML, Mancini F, Gorka AX, Shapleske J, Serfontein J, Grillon C, Ernst M, Ziauddeen H & Fletcher PC. (2020). Prefrontal responses during proactive and reactive inhibition are differentially impacted by stress in anorexia and bulimia nervosa. bioRxiv. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.27.968719

Westwater, ML, Mancini F, Shapleske J, Serfontein J, Ernst M, Ziauddeen H & Fletcher PC. (2020). Dissociable hormonal profiles for psychopathology and stress in anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Psychological Medicine, 1-11.

Westwater, ML, Vilar-López, R, Ziauddeen, H, Verdejo-García, A & Fletcher, PC. (2019). Combined effects of age and BMI are related to altered cortical thickness in adolescence and adulthood. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 80, 100728. 

Westwater, ML, Seidlitz, J, Diederen, KMJ, Fischer, S & Thompson, JC. (2018). Associations between cortical thickness, structural connectivity and severity of dimensional bulimia nervosa symptomatology. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 271, 118-125.

Basil, R, Westwater, ML, Weiner, M, & Thompson, JC. (2017). Disrupting the right superior temporal sulcus impairs emotional recognition through biological motion. Open Mind, 2(1), 26-36.

Fischer, S, Wonderlich, JA, Breithaupt, LE, Westwater, ML, Crosby, R, Engel, S, Thompson, JC, Lavender, J, & Wonderlich, SA. (2017). Impact of the neural correlates of stress and cue reactivity on stress related binge eating in the natural environment. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 92, 15-23. 

Westwater, ML, Fletcher, PC, & Ziauddeen, H. (2016). Sugar Addiction: The state of the science. European Journal of Nutrition, 55(2), 55-69.