Sonia Ponzo

Online resume

Projects and collaborations

Research projects

Digital therapeutics and mental health

In a series of studies, the research team at BioBeats has showed efficacy of their mobile application BioBase in reducing anxiety and increasing wellbeing in UK students, employees as well as in individuals with diagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

The research team at Thrive is now investigating the efficacy of their mobile app and integrated services in a randomised controlled trial. We are also exploring natural engagement with the solution in order to maximise and optimised user’s interaction with the app. Finally, we are using machine learning to effectively predict changes in users’ behaviour that may be related to mental health distress.

Interoception: the 8th sense

Interoception, namely the sense of the state of our own body, has been increasingly recognised as a determining factor for people’s mental and physical wellbeing. Nevertheless, accessible and reliable measures of interoception are still lacking, with the most widely employed ones (e.g. HDT/HTT tasks) suffering from methodological issues as well as requiring specialised lab equipment. For this reason, the team at BioBeats, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, has developed two novel, app-based tasks to measure interoception – the PAT and the CARED task.

Vertigo Reduction by Sensory Attenuation (VERSA)

The project “Vertigo Reduction by Sensory Attenuation (VERSA)”, funded by The Ménière’s Society and Royal Holloway University of London (Principal Investigator: Dr. Elisa Ferrè; named researcher and co-applicant: Sonia Ponzo), offers the first lab-based model to reduce the sensation of vertigo in patients affected by vestibular disorder.

Balancing body ownership: vestibular contributions to the bodily self

This series of studies (conducted during my PhD at Katerina Fotopoulou’s lab) aimed to explore the role of the vestibular system in balancing visual-proprioceptive, as well as visual-proprioceptive-tactile integration, in healthy subjects in the context of body ownership. We found that vestibular and interoceptive (by means of stimulation of C-tactile fibres) systems modulate multisensory integration and influence the processes underlying our sense of body ownership

“It’s my body, yet it doesn’t feel like it”: bodily awareness following right-hemisphere stroke

Body ownership, motor awareness and sense of agency have been explored via 2 different studies in patients with Anosognosia for Hemiplegia (AHP) and Disturbed Sensation of limb Ownership (DSO). Whilst we finalise these publications, you can read the related thesis chapters (Chapters 5 and 6) here.

Metacognition in egocentric and allocentric frames of reference

This study, in collaboration with Dr. Steven Fleming (UCL), aims to investigate how spatial reference frames (i.e. egocentric, body centred vs allocentric, world-centred) influence healthy participants’ judgements of their own perceptual and motor performances. The results of this study are currently being written up for publication – you can read Chapter 7 of my thesis in the meantime.

Egocentric and allocentric processing during spatial navigation in subjects with bipolar disorder traits

This study, funded by the “Fifty for Fifty” grant application (funder: University of Hertfordshire; Principal Investigator: Dr. Rebecca Knight), will explore spatial navigation skills in healthy individuals with manic and depressive traits, with the long-term aim of setting up a clinical trial in patients with Bipolar Disorder. We will examine the relative influence of landmark and self-motion cues during spatial navigation and the degree to which participants with manic and depressive traits integrate congruent or conflicting spatial cues according to the spatial reference frames.

Blog posts and public engagement

Invited blog post on the Nature Behavioural and Social Sciences Community – Topic: Is it publish or perish for PhD students?