Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Martin Tovee

Reader in Visual Cognition



I completed my PhD in Experimental Psychology at Cambridge University supervised by Prof John Mollon FRS and Prof Jim Bowmaker, before working with Prof Trevor Robbins FRS on post-doctoral research also in the Experimental Psychology Department at Cambridge. I then carried out further post-doctoral research with Prof Ed Rolls in the Experimental Psychology Department at Oxford University, before moving to take up my current post in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University. 

Research Interests

My research focuses on the problem of body image dysfunction in Eating Disordered patients. People with Eating Disorders usually exhibit strong concerns about their weight and tend to overestimate their body size. This body image dysfunction is a key diagnostic feature in both Anorexia and Bulimia, and plays an important role in the aetiology and maintenance of these conditions. By understanding both the perceptual and psychological factors in how people assess their bodies, we hope to develop new strategies to improve the treatment of these conditions.

My research also explores human mate selection and the perception of physical attractiveness in an evolutionary psychology context. One of the most fundamental problems for any organism is mate selection. In evolutionary terms it is important that we are sensitive to the physical cues that honestly signal that one individual is more desirable (i.e. fitter and with a better reproductive potential) than another, and use these cues to choose the partner who is most likely to enhance our chances of successful reproduction. My research has focussed on the visual cues on which these judgements are based, and how environment and context may alter these judgements.

My research is currently funded by project grants from the Leverhulme Trust and the Medical Research Council.

I am a member of the Institute of Neuroscience and an associate member of the Institute of Health and Society and the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health.  I have an Honorary Research Contract with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust for my clinical research.

I am an Editor of PLoS ONE and Evolution, Mind & Behaviour  

Current Postgraduate Supervision

PhD Students

Katri Cornelissen

Sandra Fernandes-Machado

Tracey Thornborrow

Former Postgraduate Students

Former PhD Students

Fran Cormack, Kara Crossley, Joanne Emery, Hannah George, Lucinda Gledhill, Huw Golledge, Alistair Gray, Katie Green, Doug Maisey, Sue Mason, Katy Smith, Willemijn Spoor, Nicki Turnill & Matt Walker

Former Masters Students

Alexandra Houston, Jessica Long, Eleni Gkagka, Renske Herrema, Danielle McCutcheon, Josephine Mo, Camilla Munton, Nagamani Pathakota, Andrew Ply, Katy Smith & Xueija Zhang



Undergraduate Teaching 

Psychology Teaching

PSY2002: Visual Perception

PSY3013: Eating Disorders

PSY3016: Sex and Human Nature

PSY3096-PSY3097: Research Projects

Biomedical Sciences Teaching

BMS3020: Chronic Diseases

Postgraduate Teaching

Research Supervision on the MRes in Evolution & Human Behaviour and the MSc in Health Psychology