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Cognitive Research

Our cognitive research group encompasses a wide variety of research interests, ranging from highly theoretical pursuits through to several different avenues of applied research. Among the more theoretical pursuits an interest in the functioning of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain is probably the main research theme shared by staff with primary interest in this area. Recent and current investigations of hemispheric function include linguistic and emotional processing, implicit and explicit memory, lexical representation, and sentence comprehension. Other areas of theoretical interest include cognitive development and individual differences in intelligence, personality and cognitive performance, intra-individual differences in cognitive performance, goal monitoring and maintenance, cognitive processes in musical perception, cognitive processes in arithmetic, and creativity.

Research into topics relevant to a somewhat more applied perspective is also performed. For example, some current and planned research programmes are targeting essentially clinical problems such as the relationship between alexithymia and traumatic brain injury, conscious and non-conscious cognitive processes associated with anxiety and depression, and neurocognitive effects resulting from methamphetamine dependence. Other applied research programmes are oriented toward human factors and involve studies of human performance in the context of shift work, circadian disruption, fatigue, environment stressors, and psychopharmacology.

Staff members in the cognitive research group

Name Main research interests
Helen Davis Cognitive development and individual differences in intelligence; personality and cognitive performance; intra-individual differences in cognitive performance; goal monitoring and maintenance; cognitive processes in music.
Bethanie Gouldthorp Contributions of each of the cerebral hemispheres to language comprehension; Cognitive processes involved in language comprehension, particularly in reading; Individual differences in reading ability and enjoyment.
Jon Prince The cognitive mechanisms that enable us to combine stimulus dimensions into a coherent mental representation. I investigate this phenomenon within the context of the perception and performance of music, which is one of the most psychologically complex and uniquely human behaviors.
Ann-Maree Vallence My research interests are focused around neuroplasticity: Understanding the mechanisms of neuroplasticity and their role in learning; Understanding changes in neuroplasticity and learning with healthy ageing; Investigating factors that influence neuroplasticity, such as the stress hormone cortisol; Understanding the role of altered neuroplasticity in the pathophysiology of disease, for example chronic pain; Investigating how we can best harness the capacity of the brain for neuroplasticity in rehabilitation following brain injury, such as stroke.
Hakuei Fujiyama After obtaining my PhD from University of Tasmania, I worked as a full-time Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (APD) on a Discovery Project between 2010-2013, investigating the functional significance of age differences in brain activation patterns in the Human Motor Control Laboratory (HMCL) and its subgroup the Cognitive and Motor Ageing Laboratory (CAMAL)(directed by Prof Summers), at the School of Psychology, UTAS. My research goal is to develop theoretical underpinning of decline in motor functioning in older adults, which can contribute to the functional independence of older adults and further intervention programs.
Robert O'Shea I am interested in how our brains produce the experiences of the things we see. I conduct laboratory experiments in which I either measure the electrical activity of the brain non-invasively with scalp electrodes (electroencehpalography, EEG) or ask people very simple questions about what they see (psychophysics), usually when they are viewing something in which the experiences they have change without any change in the information coming into the eyes (multistable phenomena including binocular rivalry and monocular rivalry). I also conduct experiments on depth perception, colour perception, and motion perception. I am interested in visual perception in the real world outside the laboratory, in the early history of binocular vision, in meteorological optics, in size and depth perception over large distances, and in colour contingent aftereffects.
Urte Roeber My current research is mainly in cognitive neuroscience of perception and higher cognition. I measure electrical activity in a person’s brain, using electroencephalography (EEG), while he or she performs various memory, attention, or perception tasks. One line of my research is aimed at understanding how we make sense of and predict the world. Another line of my research addresses the neural correlates of (visual) consciousness mainly using ambiguous visual input. The topics I am interested in include: Visual processing: in particular visual consciousness, encoding of perceptual content, binocular rivalry. Auditory processing: in particular encoding/learning of rules, involuntary attention, distraction. Memory processes: in particular encoding, recall/recognition, working memory. Plasticity: in particular bi-/multilingualism and its influence on perceptual and cognitive mechanisms across the life span. The methods I use include: Electroencephalography (EEG): in particular event-related potentials (ERPs), source localization, frequency-tagged stimulation. Behavioural performance: in particular psychophysics, reaction times, recursive correlations, circular statistics, data modelling.
Matthew Thompson I research the nature of expertise and non-analytic cognition in fingerprint identification, toward improving the value of expert testimony to promote rightful convictions and prevent wrongful ones. I’m also interested in the Flashed Face Distortion Effect and, more generally, the distinction between categorization and identification in judgment and decision making.