Researchers in the Cognition and Neuroscience Group examine human cognitive and emotional processes in neurotypical adults as well as in individuals with brain impairments and mental health disorders. We employ state of the art neuroimaging techniques, including electroencephalography (EEG), eye-tracking, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), and non-invasive brain stimulation (TCS).
FACE, SCENE AND OBJECT PROCESSING
The group has considerable expertise in research on visual object and face processing. This includes the investigation of the cognitive and neural features of typical and atypical face-processing. Prof. Thoma assesses the role of attentional load in perceiving faces (as well as everyday objects) while Dr Vitkovitch is interested in how we retrieve the names for faces and objects, and Dr Budd addresses similar questions for people with dyslexia. Dr Stone is exploring emotional reactions and attitudes of the general public to people with facial disfigurement. Professor Fu has been investigating face processing in relation to mental health disorders, namely depression. Dr Wakui and Dr Gosling are using EEG and brain stimulation to investigate the differences in representations between object and face recognition. Dr Coco explores the role that high-level (e.g., semantics) and low-level (e.g. saliency) play on the allocation of overt attention during scene understanding tasks. His work also compares healthy and pathologically ageing groups (e.g., Alzheimer’s) to get at the attentional underpinnings of their cognitive degeneration.
OTHER COGNITIVE PROCESSES
Individuals within the group also have particular strengths in other areas of cognition. These include synaesthesia (Dr Spiller), neuro-psychopharmacology (Prof. Fu), thinking styles in relation to paranormal beliefs (Dr Stone), decision making (Prof. Thoma), object name retrieval (Dr Vitkovitch), communication in language and emotion (Dr Budd), eye tracking as potential biomarker (Dr Harwood), pain perception (Dr Martini, Dr Fidalgo), risk-taking and social perceptions (Dr Lemoine), and cognitive processes related to sleep (Dr Malinowski).
DEVELOPING NOVEL TREATMENTS
Professor Fu is investigating the potential of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as a community-based treatment for depression. tDCS offers a potential treatment option for individuals who might wish to have pharmacological or psychological treatment. Prof. Thoma explores the use of tDCS in treating disordered gambling.
A key aim for the group is to advance theoretical models of cognition to better understand both difficulties and abilities in cognition and social cognition. We also work towards predicting performance on specific cognitive tasks and predict clinical responses in mental health disorders. We make use of innovative technology (e.g., brain stimulation, EEG, virtual reality) to facilitate assessment and rehabilitation of individuals with cognitive impairments. The overall goal is therefore to promote individual health and wellbeing. The impact of the research is evident in exchanging knowledge in clinical, organisational and other user-environments (e.g., user-experience agencies, financial trading, charities, general public).