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Our Team

Computational cognitive science Moreno I. Coco works at the intersection between experimental clinical and computational cognitive science. His work adopts a 3-tier approach: (i) empirically observe the interplay of different cognitive modalities, (ii) understand the underlying cognitive mechanisms, and (iii) make testable computational models based on the data. He has worked extensively in psycholinguistics and visual cognition gauging the interplay between language processing and visual attention. He has used computer mouse-tracking and electro-physiology to examine the cross-modal mechanisms underlying the integration of linguistic and visual information. Lately, his research has look at the interplay between attention and memory in healthy and pathological ageing by examining the correlates of brain activity during unconstrained natural viewing in visual memory tasks.

Publications and profile

Visual attention and object processing: Elley Wakui’s EEG work has been on the processing of visual information, particularly that which we do not allocate attentional resources. This extends previous behavioural work investigating the development of mental representations of objects. Her PhD student (Montserrat Gonzalez-Perez) is currently investigating the enhancement of face processing using transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS).

Publications and profile

Individual differences in multisensory processing: Mary Spiller’s research investigates how individual differences in multisensory perception (e.g. synaesthesia) might be related to other cognitive or visual spatial abilities (e.g. mental imagery).  For example, we have found that individuals with synaesthesia (synaesthetes) report more vivid mental imagery than non-synaesthetes.  Importantly, we were the first to explore this in relation to modalities other than just visual imagery, finding that synaesthetes also report more vivid auditory, smell, touch and taste imagery. Furthermore, we have shown that sequence-spatial synaesthetes (who experience sequences such as time in a spatial sequence) perform better than non-synaesthetes on mental rotation tests.

Publications and profile

Cognitive reflection in judgment and decision-making: Volker Thoma’s work on judgment and decision-making investigates the role of cognitive reflection, a thinking disposition as well as a performance measure linked to executive functions. In brainstimulation work cognitive tests were increased after transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the right pre-frontal cortex. Cognitive reflection is also found to be linked to forms of schizotypy and may be the basis of expert decision-making (e.g., in financial expertise).

Publications and profile

Gambling disorder (GD) is a behavioural addiction characterised by compulsive and maladaptive gambling behaviour. GD has been associated to dysfunctional cognitive functions linked to a dysregulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), and the manifestation of high impulsivity and excessive risk-taking behaviour. This PhD project investigates the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in GD. The clinical phase of the research consists on studying the effects of tDCS in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in patients that attend the UK National Problem Gambling Clinic. The main objective of the project is to study whether tDCS on the PFC can modulate cognitive processing, helping to decrease impulsivity and risk-taking behaviour, and therefore offer improved opportunities for the treatment of disordered gamblers.

Dr Mary-Jane Budd is looking for enthusiastic and scientifically minded people to work in her lab investigating the neural correlates of object and word identification in dyslexics using EEG. Mary-Jane would be happy to hear from anyone interested in working with her on this topic by emailing m.budd@uel.ac.uk

Publications and profile

Temporal summation of second pain during ‘affective touch’: Some evidence hints at an analgesic effect of ‘affective touch’ during acute pain states but whether this decrease pain level during temporal summation of second pain is not known. Matteo Martini’s work on pain and ‘affective touch’ investigates the role of this specific type of touch on a paradigm which mimics the physiological underpinnings of some forms of chronic pain. Behavioural and neurophysiological (EEG) responses will be collected.

Publications and profile

Mark Harwood’s work on motor control and learning (with particular emphasis on eye movements and active vision) studies the interplay between decision-making, learning, motor control and visual attention systems. Current projects involve healthy adults and children, as well as conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, dyslexia and amblyopia. These involve collaborations in USA and France primarily.

 

Publications and Profile

Josie Malinowski uses sleep mentation (dreams) as a window into understanding sleep-dependent memory transformation processes. Her research has shown that waking-life memories are ‘tagged’ for subsequent consolidation during sleep by their emotional intensity and personal salience, and that frontal theta activity correlates with incorporation of recent waking-life memories during sleep. Waking-life memories are transformed by the sleeping brain, perhaps via hyperassociative cognitive mechanisms, over time, to facilitate emotion-regulation and processing (among other functions).

Publications and profile

Cynthia Fu is looking at how brain regions change with talking therapy as well as with pharmacological therapy, what the potential is to develop biomarkers to help us to identify depression and to predict response, and whether the novel brain stimulation technique tDCS could be a potential community-based treatment for depression.

 

Publications and profile

Jérémy E. Lemoine’s research interests include social, organisational, economic and cross-cultural psychology. More specifically, his research is in the areas of leadership, well-being in the workplace, burnout, risk-taking, gambling and social representation. His current research aims to develop and apply the social identity model of leadership across situations and cultures. He seeks to investigate how identity leadership can improve both well-being and productivity in organisations.

Publications and profile

Wellbeing: my research focuses on aspects associated with a positive mental health and wellbeing. Previously conducted research on the impact of zero-hour contracts on care-workers wellbeing, and; currently am investigating the impact of the lockdown in the UK has in sleep, pain management and mental wellbeing.

Decision-making: my initial research here focused on the impact of briefly presented visual stimuli on multisensory integration and identification. Since then I’ve conducted research on the cognitive strategies that people use to identify incorrect information. In a similar manner I’ve conducted research on the impact of social media in creative thinking.

Profile

Retrieval of object names: While most of my research is with healthy adults, object/picture naming is a key neuropsychological test, because people with brain damage can quite often have difficulties retrieving picture names. I am interested in semantic interference effects during picture naming. There has been a good deal of research which suggests that when you name an object from a semantic category, such as animals, or furniture, the representations of other objects from that category become activated, and can slow you down.

Publication and profile

Belief in the paranormal: I investigate the factors contributing to belief in the paranormal, including thinking styles and narrative conventions. I have recently published a new wide-ranging questionnaire measure of paranormal belief.

Perceptions of people with facial disfigurement: I investigate the reactions of members of the general public to individuals with facial disfigurement, looking at their emotional reactions and their evaluations of personal traits and abilities. Recent projects have included eye-tracking research looking at the relationship between attentional focus and emotional reactions and the effectiveness of a short intervention to reduce automatic bias.

Publications and Profile

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