Publications

Here is a vaguely organised list of academic publications I have (co-)authored. Differently-organised but otherwise identical (or possibly more complete!) lists can be found at:

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Research Portal Profile
Google Scholar Profile
Research Gate Profile
Academia.Edu Profile
Publons profile: includes a record of my peer-reviewing activities.

ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-5592-7562 (My ORCID profile)

At some point I plan to add more links to publications and other media intended for a non-academic audience to which I've contributed.

Autism

Allen, R., Walsh, R., & Zangwill, N. (2013).
The same, only different: what can responses to music in autism tell us about the nature of musical emotions?
Frontiers in Psychology 4:156.

This article discusses how musical responses can convey the nature of musical emotions in individuals with autism. The logical first step is to enquire how far these responses resemble naturalistic emotions, that is, those that are not specifically musical, but have ordinary non-musical content. Many authors suggest that whilst certain emotions are exclusive to music there is considerable overlap between musical and naturalistic emotions, while others deny that musically induced emotions are naturalistic. Perhaps consideration of music’s origins might clarify the issue. If the universality of music in human society were the consequence of biological selection, this would support the naturalistic interpretation. Taking the longitudinal view, and focusing on just one musical sub-culture, that of Western music, its development during the past millennium from Gregorian plainchant to modern electronic music illustrates that the evolution of music operates several orders of magnitude faster than human evolution. The authors conclude that musical emotions, if they are emotions at all in the conventional sense, are fast track emotions.

Walsh, R. J., Krabbendam, L., Dewinter, J., & Begeer, S. (2018).
Brief Report: Gender Identity Differences in Autistic Adults: Associations with Perceptual and Socio-cognitive Profiles.
Joural of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48:12.

Prior research has shown an elevation in autism traits and diagnoses in individuals seen for gender related consultation and in participants self-identifying as transgender. To investigate this relationship between autism and gender identity from a new angle, we compared the self-reported autism traits and sensory differences between participants with autism who did or did not identify with their assigned sex (i.e. cisgender or trans and non-binary, respectively). We found broad elevation of most cognitive autism traits in the trans and non-binary group (those who identified with a gender other than their assigned gender), and lower visual and auditory hypersensitivity. We contrast these data to existing hypotheses and propose a role for autistic resistance to social conditioning.

Murphy, J., Prentice, F., Walsh, R. J., Catmur, C., Bird, G. (2019).
Autism and Transgender identity: implications for depression and anxiety.
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 69 (nice).

Autistic traits are over-represented in transgender populations, and gender variance is high in autistic individuals. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that the autism/transgender overlap is limited to individuals sex assigned female. Few studies, however, have investigated the impact of this overlap on mental health. This study therefore sought to investigate whether the autism/transgender overlap confers an increased risk of depression or anxiety. An online study of 727 individuals revealed a substantial overlap between transgender identity and autism, with increased autistic traits found in trans men compared to trans women. Depression and anxiety were highest in autistic-trans individuals, but no superadditive effect was observed. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the wider healthcare system.

Transgender

Obviously all of these papers are, to differing degrees, feminist works.

Walsh, R. J. (2020).
A blow to the rights of transgender children: Reubs J Walsh argues that trans children understand their own gender, and should therefore not be assumed to lack the competence to determine their own treatment.
The Psychologist

The High Court just dealt a blow to the rights of transgender children in the UK (Bell v. Tavistock, 2020). As a consequence, thousands of trans teenagers have been stripped of the autonomy to access a life-saving medical treatment. The NHS trust affected is seeking permission to appeal.Reeling from this ruling, I noticed how certain misconceptions about transgender children, which have become much more prevalent in the last few years, may have led to this injustice. So, I thought I would dispel some myths and discuss how these myths are used to justify attacks on trans children’s access to healthcare – sometimes even by gender-specialists.

von Vaupel-Klein, A. M., & Walsh, R. J. (2020).
Considerations in genetic counseling of transgender patients: Cultural competencies and altered disease risk profiles
Journal of Genetic Counseling, 00

Transgender people are a growing population with specific healthcare needs, barriers to care, and disease risk factors. Cultural competencies for working with transgender people in healthcare settings are essential to reduce barriers to care and combat the associated health disparities. Genetic counselors support their patients to understand and manage medically and personally complex life events and decisions. A genetic counselor caring for a transgender patient or a patient with a transgender relative will therefore require specific cultural competencies and medical knowledge that may not have been covered in their training. Transgender health is also a relatively young field in which new insights may quickly become fundamental. The present paper therefore provides an overview of current best practices for culturally sensitive working with transgender patients, and an introduction to the additional considerations for assessment of disease risk in transgender people. Guidance on how to ensure communication with patients and other stakeholders is inclusive and affirming of transgender identities, is offered. Medical interventions used for gender transitions are described, and their (potential) effects on cancer and cardiovascular disease risk are discussed. Furthermore, the effects of sociocultural risk factors such as minority stress are outlined. In sum, we invite the reader to consider the specific biological, psychological, and social context of the consultation. Finally, we explore culturally competent approaches to pedigree charting and physical examinations with transgender people and provide recommendations for practice.

Walsh, R. J., & Einstein, G. (2020).
Transgender embodiment: a feminist, situated neuroscience perspective.
Journal of the International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics, 8(si2020) pp56-70

The policing of boundaries of acceptable sexual identities and behaviour is a recurring theme in numerous marginalities. Gender (especially womanhood) is often instantiated socially through the harms to which members of that gender are subjected. For transgender people, the assumption that genitals define gender translates the ubiquitous misapprehension that genitals and sex are binary into an assumption that gender must also be binary. This circumscribes the potentiality of cultural intelligibility for trans gender identities, and may interfere with the ability of transgender people to select the most appropriate medical and social means of expressing their authentic identities, even altering what is possible or appropriate, thereby curtailing trans people’s authenticity and freedom. We therefore distinguish social from bodily aspects of gender dysphoria, proposing a model of their distinct, intersecting origins. We explore ways in which transgender medicine reflects aspects of other gendered surgeries, proposing a biopsychosocial understanding of embodiment, including influences of culture on the neurological representation of the body in the somatosensory cortex. This framework proposes that cultural cissexism , causes trans people to experience (neuro)physiological damage, creating or exacerbating the need for medical transition within a framework of individual autonomy. . Our social-constructionist feminist neuroscientific account of gendered embodiment highlights the medical necessity of bodily autonomy for trans people seeking surgery or other biomedical interventions, and the ethical burden therein.

Walsh, R. J., (2020).
“Masculine” Describes Gender Expressions, Not Neurobiologies: Response to Dutton and Madison (2020)
Sexuality Research and Social Policy.

This letter is a response to “Gender Dysphoria and Transgender Identity Is Associated with Physiological and Psychological Masculinization: a Theoretical Integration of Findings, Supported by Systematic Reviews” by Dutton and Madison (2020), which relies on theorisations for which substantial counter-evidence exists, fails to engage with these or other criticisms of the theories upon which it seeks to build, and reaches conclusions that contradict existing evidence. Furthermore, the original theorisations contained in Dutton and Madison (2020), and the conclusions drawn from those theorisations, risk causing serious harm to already-marginalised groups.

Some more papers on the intersection of transgender and autism are above.

Walsh, R. J., & Krabbendam, L. (2017).
How Social Norms Affect Psychiatric Approaches to Gender Incongruence.
The Lancet Psychiatry, 4(2), 98.

(This links to the full text of this short letter to the editor)

Lewis, E.-B., Vincent, B., Brett, A., Gibson, S., & Walsh, R. J. (2017).
I am your trans patient.
British Medical Journal, 357.

(This links to the full text of this short invited editorial)

Feminism

Walsh, R. J. (2015).
“Objectivity” and intersectionality: How intersectional feminism could utilise identity and experience as a dialectical weapon of liberation within academia.
Journal of Feminism and Psychology. 25(1), 61–66. Paywall-free access here.

Neuroimaging

van Buuren, M., Walsh, R. J., Sijtsma. H., Hollarek. M., Lee. N. C., Bos, P. A., & Krabbendam, L. (2020)
Neural correlates of self- and other-referential processing in young adolescents and the effects of testosterone and peer similarity.
NeuroImage 219

During adolescence, self-concept develops profoundly, accompanied by major changes in hormone levels. Self-evaluations become more complex, and peers and their opinions increasingly salient. Neuroimaging studies have investigated self- and other-related processing in adolescents, however, the influence of similarity of peers on these processes is still unclear, as well as functional connectivity underlying such processes. We investigated the effect of peer similarity on neural activity and connectivity underlying self- and other-referential processing, by distinguishing between a similar and dissimilar peer when making other-evaluations. Moreover, we explored the association between testosterone and brain activity during self-evaluations. Sixty-six young adolescents underwent functional MRI while performing a trait judgement task in which they indicated whether an adjective described themselves, a similar or a dissimilar classmate. The ventral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) showed increased engagement in self-referential processing, and the posterior cingulate cortex and right temporal parietal junction during other-evaluations. However, activity did not differ between the similar and dissimilar other conditions. Functional connectivity of the ventral MPFC included the striatum when evaluating the similar peer and frontoparietal regions when evaluating the dissimilar peer. Furthermore, inter-individual differences in testosterone levels were positively associated with dorsal MPFC activity in males. This study provides insight into the influence of peer similarity on activity and connectivity underlying other-referential processing in young adolescents, and suggests that testosterone affects neural correlates of self-referential processing.

van Buuren, M., Lee. N. C., Vegting, I., Walsh, R. J., Sijtsma. H., Hollarek. M., & Krabbendam, L. (2021)
Intrinsic network interactions explain individual differences in mentalizing ability in adolescents
Neuropsychologia 151

Mentalizing is an important aspect of social cognition and people vary in their ability to mentalize. Despite initial evidence that mentalizing continues to develop throughout adolescence, it is unclear which neural mechanisms underlie individual variability in mentalizing ability in adolescents. Interactions within and between the default-mode network (DMN), frontoparietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular/salience network (CO/SN) have been related to inter-individual differences in cognitive processes in both adults and adolescents. Here, we investigated whether intrinsic connectivity within and between these brain networks explained inter-individual differences in affective mentalizing ability in adolescents. Resting-state brain activity was measured using functional MRI and affective mentalizing ability was defined as correct performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test performed outside the scanner. We identified the DMN, FPN and CO/SN, and within and between network connectivity values were submitted to a bootstrapping enhanced penalized multiple regression analysis to predict mentalizing in 66 young adolescents (11–14 years). We showed that stronger connectivity between the DMN and the FPN, together with lower within-network connectivity of the FPN and the CO/SN predicted better mentalizing performance. These novel findings provide insight into the normative developmental trajectory of the neural mechanisms underlying affective mentalizing in early adolescence.