Research

Brain-imaging in an immersive motion simulator: We are studying perception and integration of self-motion with other cues while learning to operate a moving vehicle, including driving and flying. We aim to identify neural correlates of multisensory integration involving self-motion using electrophysiological methods, and by observing behavioural responses and eye-tracking. We are studying the importance of self-motion for transfer of training. We are studying attentional and social influences on training, navigation, and cognitive control in simulated environments.

Performance and error monitoring: How do we learn from our mistakes? How does practice improve performance? How do we become experts? How is performance monitored during practice, how are errors detected, and how is behaviour altered in response to errors? We study attention and cognitive control,experience dependent changes to cognitive, attentional, and memory processes, and brain processes underlying the changes that occur as a novice becomes an expert.

We study neural events by measuring scalp potentials from a high density array of electrodes which detect millisecond resolution voltage changes generated by neurons. The high temporal resolution of event-related potentials (ERP) allows us to ask specific questions about neural changes related to practice and learning. The ability to tap into function non-invasively allows us to ask how behaviour relates to neural processes.

Self and social cognition: We study self-concept from a social-cognitive perspective, using implicit measures (e.g. Implicit Association Test) to determine the cognitive organization of self-concept. We have examined how new person representations are related to self concept during social interactions and how this cognitive organization may bias further perception. We are also interested in the processes involved in developing psychological feelings of ownership, and in the link between long-term and recently acquired owned objects and the self.

Attentional training and cognitive control: We study experience-dependent changes in attention and memory via mindfulness meditation training. To investigate the cognitive benefits of meditation as a form of attentional training we measure ongoing neural processes using ERP, with particular interest in how mindfulness meditation training affects cognitive control.

Self-esteem:  High self-esteem has been linked to a number of positive outcomes, including subjective well-being, increased academic performance, and healthy social relationships. Conversely, low self-esteem has been linked to socially destructive outcomes including relationship dysfunction, hostility, and drug abuse. In light of this, we seek to understand the underlying neural processes that lead to these behavioural differences. We use a combination of behavioural and electrophysiological methods to understand the cognitive control mechanisms involved in high vs. low self-esteem individuals.

The bivalency effect:  Imagine driving through the city and a red light flashes in your periphery while going through a green-light intersection. Even though the red flash is irrelevant for the task at hand (i.e. drive through the intersection), the red appearance of this flash cues a “stop” signal because of all your previous encounters with red stoplights. In response to these “bivalent” (i.e. cueing two tasks) stimuli, people slow down their responses to all other tasks for a significant period of time. In the present analogy, response times to changing lanes and staying vigilant to pedestrian encounters would also be slowed-down. We seek to understand the cognitive control that leads to this response slowing and how our brains learn to anticipate future cognitive load.

Selective attention, visual and spatial memory

Face processing and people learning