14 December 2016 – Iris Englehard University of Utrecht How does EMDR work? A dual-task approach to degrading traumatic memories
7 December 2016 – Anne Dowker University of Oxford Maths Anxiety in Girls
30 November 2016 – Laurence White University of Plymouth The Origins of Speech Anti-Rhythm
23 November 2016 – Felicity Bishop Southampton University Harnessing Placebo Effects in Routine Primary Care: GPs' and Patients' Perspectives
- Placebos are an essential tool in randomised clinical trials, where they are used to control for bias and contextual healing effects. More controversially, researchers are developing ways of harnessing placebo effects for patient benefit in routine medical practice
In this seminar, I will describe a programme of work investigating professional and lay attitudes to clinical applications of placebo effects. Our web-based survey of 783 UK GPs showed that 97% of GPs have used placebos in clinical practice, and that so-called 'pure' placebos (e.g. sugar pills) are used rarely but 'impure' placebos (e.g. homeopathy) are used frequently
Qualitative analysis of GPs' comments revealed that they perceived a broad array of perceived harms and benefits of placebo-prescribing, reflecting fundamental bioethical principles at the level of the individual, the doctor-patient relationship, the NHS, and society
While some GPs were adamant that there was no place for placebos in clinical practice, others saw placebo effects as ubiquitous and potentially beneficial in primary care.
Our focus group and survey research with patients demonstrates similarly strongly-held and diverse views about harnessing placebo effects in routine primary care
If placebo effects are to be better harnessed to benefit patients, then patients and GPs would benefit from educational interventions to dispel myths, challenge misconceptions, and increase knowledge. I will finish by describing our current work to develop such interventions.
16 November 2016 – Jonathan Rolison University of Essex Risk-taking differences across adulthood: A question of age, domain, and self-perceptions.
9 November 2016 – Sobanawartiny Wijeakumar University of East Anglia 'Shining light' on visual working memory
- Visual working memory (VWM) plays a key role in visual cognition, comparing percepts and identifying changes in the world as they occur. Previously, functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) has identified activation in frontal, parietal and temporal areas involved in VWM processing.
There are, however, various issues with trying to use fMRI to investigate such brain functions in infancy and childhood and even in late adulthood.
Instead, one can rely on functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to investigate hemodynamic changes in the cerebral cortex in both typical and atypical populations.
Here, we will show a novel image reconstruction approach to move from conventional channel-based to voxel-based fNIRS activation, similar to what is obtained from fMRI analyses.
I will validate this approach by comparing voxel-wise fNIRS results to fNIRS results from a VWM task in young adults. I will also present some evidence of using this approach to investigate VWM changes in the brain across the human life span.
26 October 2016 – Bob French University of Borgouyne
- Games involving cognitive skills of any kind have at least one thing in common: an adult can without the slightest effort beat a five-year-old child at them. With one exception: Concentration. The game works like this
A deck of cards consisting of pairs of various images, for example, pairs of images of various Pokemon characters: two Pikachu cards, two Charizard cards, two Gyarados cards, etc., is randomly dealt out, face down, on the table
Each of the two players takes turns turning over two cards. If they match, they keep that pair of cards and play again. If the two cards turned over do not match, they are turned face down again in their original locations and the other player plays
The game continues until there are no more cards on the table. The winner is the person with the most cards. Clearly this game requires two different memory skills: image-recollection and location-recollection
Along with other researchers, we have shown that adults are very significantly better at both of these memory skills than young children
And yet, children perform as well, and often better, than adults at this game, one that requires both image – and location – recognition! How on earth is this possible? I present a simple connectionist model that provides insight for a possible solution to this paradox
The model suggests that no separate mechanisms are required for children to achieve their astonishingly good performance on this task. It also suggests a way for you to not be humiliated by being thrashed by your five-year-old child at this game.
19 October 2016 – William Simpson University of Plymouth What causes the other-race effect? Evidence from classification images
2 October 2016 – Graham Turpin – University of Sheffield Books on prescription, self-help and trauma: a cautionary tale
- Bibliotherapy and self-help are recognized features of many UK mental health services. Since the pioneering work of Neil Frude, Books on Prescription (BOP) Schemes have arisen in many NHS services through partnerships with public libraries.
At the same time, the importance of 'Stepped Care Models' of service delivery has been stressed, whereby Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners offer low intensity psychological interventions such as bibliotherapy and self-help.
A recent national development by a leading charity involving public libraries, the Reading Agency, has drawn these two initiatives together.
The progress made in rolling out nationally the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme covering common mental health conditions, dementia, young people's mental health and long-term physical conditions will be briefly reviewed.
It cannot be assumed, however, that every self-help intervention is effective in moderating symptoms and psychological problems. Research on providing self-help information to people who have recently attended hospital Accident and Emergency departments will be presented.
Although attendees generally value being given relevant information, no evidence of the efficacy of information provision on moderating symptoms of PTSD was obtained in three independent RCTs. The implications of these studies for self-help provision are discussed.
5 October 2016 – Bahar Koymen Manchester University Putting heads together: Children's reasoning with others
- Reasoning is classically viewed as an individual skill enabling a person to reach conclusions based on evidence. More recent accounts, however, have highlighted that reasoning – in the more restricted sense of explicating reasons for actions or conclusions – is a fundamentally social skill enabling two or more people to produce and evaluate one another's arguments in order to reach joint decisions (Mercier & Sperber, 2011; Tomasello, 2014).
Therefore, in making joint decisions with a partner, children must evaluate the evidence behind their respective claims and so the rationality of their respective proposals. In this talk I will present series of studies in which three-, five-, and seven-year-old children produced and evaluated reasons with their peer partners to reach joint decisions.
The findings overall suggest that children as young as three-year-olds are able to reason with others. Children get better at reasoning in late preschool ages and eventually become very 'strategic' reasoners at school ages.
Overall, these results support the view of children's joint reasoning as a fundamentally cooperative enterprise aimed at making jointly rational decisions.
11 May 2016 – Harry Farmer UCL Embodiment
- The last 20 years have seen an explosion of interest in the self within cognitive science. However, research on this topic has often been disjointed with researchers from cognitive neuroscience emphasising the importance of a bodily form of self which is formed by the integration of sensory inputs and motor outputs while researchers from the social sciences have tended to view the self as an abstract conceptual structure
In this talk, I will present a series of studies which investigated whether bodily and conceptual forms of self-representation interact with one another and how this affected our perceptions of other people.
I will first present a series of studies which investigated the effect of skin colour on body ownership and found that experiencing body ownership over a hand with the skin colour of a racial out-group led to more positive implicit attitudes towards members of that racial out-group and modulated their empathic motor resonance to painful stimuli on the hand of that out-group member.
I will go on to discuss a second series of studies that examined the relationship between trust and body representation using economic games and fMRI.
4 May 2016 – Nicola Byrom Oxford University: Attending to the bigger picture; attentional breadth may be influencing how we construct models of life experience
23 March 2016 – Ian Apperly University of Birmingham How do we take other people's perspectives, and who cares?
- A growing literature on perspective-taking paints a complex picture. Perspective-taking may be spatial or social; automatic or controlled; and clearly depends on multiple cognitive mechanisms.
I will describe some recent results from adults and children that suggest there is order in this chaos. One reason why we should care about this because it provides a powerful framework for investigating individual differences in healthy and pathological perspective-taking.
16 March 2016 – Jelena Havelka University of Leeds Visuospatial bootstrapping effects in working memory
- It has recently been demonstrated that immediate memory for digits is superior when items are presented in a meaningful 'keypad' spatial configuration.
This phenomenon, termed 'visuospatial bootstrapping', involves the integration of verbal and spatial information in working memory via stored knowledge in long-term memory. We have recently explored the basis of this effect experimentally using dual-task manipulations, with outcomes indicating contributions to verbal-spatial binding from spatial working memory and modality-general storage (possibly within the episodic buffer).
We have also examined the extent to which the effect emerges in different population groups, including children of different ages, healthy older adults, and individuals with mild cognitive impairment.
An overview of this recent work will be provided, along with a consideration of current and future directions.
9 March 2016 – Reinout Wiers University of Amsterdam Assessing and Changing Implicit Cognition in Addiction
- Dual process models have described addiction as a combination of relatively strong bottom-up cue-related neurocognitive processes and relatively weak top-down cognitive control processes.
In line with this perspective, we found across several studies a larger impact of memory associations and approach tendencies on behaviour in adolescents with relatively weak cognitive.
Dual-process models have recently come under fire, but we think they can still be useful at a descriptive psychological level, while more work should be done to illuminate the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms. Moreover, dual process models inspired new interventions aimed at changing relatively automatic processes in addiction, varieties of Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) paradigms.
I will present work on attentional re-training in alcoholism and on approach-bias re-training which have yielded clinically relevant results. I will also present some recent studies concerning online applications of CBM and on the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms in these training studies.
2 March 2016 – Neil Ferguson Liverpool Hope University Leaving violence behind: Disengaging from terrorism in Northern Ireland
- This presentation explores the processes involved in leaving social movements or disengaging from terrorist activities by providing an analysis of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando (RHC) transformation away from politically motivated violence towards a civilian non-military role.
Interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to gain an understanding of participant accounts of leaving violence behind and disengaging from terrorism. Analysis of the interview transcripts revealed the interplay of individual, organisation and societal level processes in incentivising and obstructing disengagement from politically motivated violence.
The findings resonate with other case studies exploring the processes involved in disengagement from political violence among other terror groupings across the globe.
The results are discussed in relation to a number of topics, including the implementation DDR in post-conflict societies, the dynamic role of collective identity in the engagement in and disengagement from politically motivated violence and the role of prison in shaping disengagement from politically motivated violence.
24 February 2016 – Caroline Rowland University of Liverpool How do children learn grammar? Evidence from production, comprehension and explanatory models
- Research on language development, particularly the development of grammar, has traditionally focused on debating the extent to which language learning depends on innate knowledge or environmental support.
On the one hand, many studies, mainly on speech production (e.g. Pine et al., 1998), have suggested that children start out with pockets of knowledge-based round an inventory of item-based frames.
This evidence supports an approach that sees grammar development as a gradual process of abstraction across specific instances in the child's input. On the other hand, a different body of work, mainly on language comprehension, suggests that children use abstract grammatical categories from the earliest age tested (e.g. Gertner et al., 2006).
This evidence supports an approach that proposes innate syntactic, semantic or conceptual knowledge at the core of grammar acquisition, and which predicts more rapid learning. However, recent work suggests that this is a false dichotomy; children and adults have both abstract knowledge and knowledge centred around lexical items at all stages of development.
Thus, the traditional approaches are breaking down. What is replacing them is a focus on explanatory models designed to answer a different question: 'How do the child's learning mechanisms exploit information in the environment to build mature linguistic knowledge?'
In this talk I use recent work from our lab to demonstrate what this approach has taught us so far about grammar acquisition, focussing on work that demonstrates what kind of learning mechanism best explains developmental differences in structural priming.
I show how this new approach requires that we factor into our models the mechanisms underlying language processing, since the results of all studies on children's language development reflect not only children's knowledge of their language, but also the processing constraints that operate when we produce or comprehend language.
17 February 2016 – Sylvia Terbeck University of Plymouth Recent development of two topics: Music and intergroup relations and Immersive Virtual Reality and intergroup relations
- Social psychology might benefit from a multimodal approach including insides from music psychology as well as computer science. We recently found that music and synchronised activity might enhance empathy and reduce prejudice.
Furthermore, besides using traditional questionnaire-based methods we developed a 3D immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) paradigm to study moral and social decisions.
We found the IVR paradigm to be superior to previous methods as "dark tirade" personality variables could predict the more realistic IVR actions but not the theoretical decisions. Using IVR might thus have great benefit to the study of psychology, and I will show you how simple *programming* could be.
10 February 2016 – Kristina Suchotzki Wurzburg University, Germany Lie to Me – An experimental investigation of the cognitive mechanisms underlying deception
20 January 2016 – Allegra Cattani University of Plymouth Children's first words and gestures: A cross-linguistic study
- Word and gesture learning emerge naturally in child development. Infants learn to speak and to gesture following the same developmental milestones.
First, a new picture naming task, with standardisation norms of over 370 English-speaking British children, assessing the lexical subcomponents of comprehension and production in toddlers between 19 and 36 months, is presented.
This structured task is then used to examine the lexical ability and the gesture production on a sample of British, Australian, and English toddlers. The effects of cultural and linguistic differences are explained.
13 January 2016 – Markus Binderman University of Kent Resource limits as the cause of errors in face matching
- In face matching, observers have to decide whether two photographs of unfamiliar faces depict the same person or different people. This task is of great applied importance for person identification at airports and national borders, but it is also prone to error. In this talk, I will look at a key cause of these errors.