Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Michelle Luciano

Lecturer in Psychology

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

Reading and Language, Wellbeing, Cognitive Abilities, Mood

Education / Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Queensland

Research Groups


Individual Diffferences in Mental Health

Specialist Techniques in Psychological Research

Y4 Tutorial

Y3 Group Project

Y3 Literature Review


PhD  Department of Psychiatry, University of Queensland [2002]
BPsych (Hons) Department of Psychology, James Cook University [1996]


Collaborative Activity

1. The genetic aetiology of reading and language: This collaborative project with Prof Bates (University of Edinburgh, UK), Profs Coltheart and Castles (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia), and Prof Martin (QIMR, Brisbane, Australia) dates back to my first postdoctoral research. It has produced the world’s first genome-wide common variant analysis of reading and language traits and 10 other peer-reviewed articles, some with very high impact (e.g., in the top psychiatric journal, Molecular Psychiatry). This research is being re-invigorated by recent pilot funding (see CCACE funding 2016). I represent our cohort in the newly formed international Genetics of Language (GenLang) consortium (where cohort data will be merged for genome-wide analysis), and will be leading the consortium analysis and drafting a manuscript on the genetic correlations between dyslexia and other neurodevelopmental disorders, a research study I conceived. I have recently written a book chapter on gene mapping of reading and language skills that will be published by MIT Press.


2. Genetic and environmental contributors to personality, mood, and wellbeing: This research stream was consolidated through my Royal Society of Edinburgh Post (2009-2011) which focussed on mood in the elderly. I published the first genome-wide analysis of anxiety and depressive traits in the general population and my data analysis of personality traits has contributed to international consortia published in journals of high impact (Impact factor of 14.4) like JAMA Psychiatry and Molecular Psychiatry. I have recently led an international consortium of 12 cohorts where we showed that 1000s of genes influencing personality traits affected subjective wellbeing. This followed on from ideas detailed in a book chapter written by myself and Dr Weiss (Psychology, University of Edinburgh) on the genetics of co-vitality (or co-occurrence of positive traits), published in 2015. 


3. Finding genes influencing brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) measures: This is a collaborative project with Prof Deary (Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), University of Edinburgh) and Prof Wardlaw (Centre for Clinical Brain Science, University of Edinburgh). Over the last four years I have been the principal genetic analyst of the brain MRI measures collected in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, this involves monthly conference calls with international collaborators. My analyses of these data have contributed to a number of extremely high impact papers published in Nature and Nature Neuroscience. I have also led papers using brain MRI variables (e.g., P6, 3), including international collaborations. I am a chief investigator on a European collaboration investigating rare genetic variant effects on MRI measures (see MRC Funding 2015); as part of this project I represent our cohort at meetings and supervise the postdoctoral analyst.

Administrative Roles

PPLS Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team convenor [2016 - ]

Director of Studies/Personal Tutor  [2012 - ]
Quality Assurance and Enhancement Representative for Psychology [2012-2014]

Psychology Research Ethics Commitee Reviewer [2012 - 2014]

Year 3 Course Organiser [2015 - ]


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