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Attention, Memory, Perception, & Action

Researchers in the Attention, Memory, Perception, & Action group explore the cognitive and neurophysiological aspects of attention, perception, memory, and action.

Our work includes understanding the impact of ageing on cognitive performance, the effects of drinking and smoking on memory performance, the contribution of individual differences, autism, and other factors to working memory, cognitive and neurophysiological mechanisms of attentional control and the organisation of working memory. 

Members of this group are involved in projects geared towards understanding how information processing and subsequent action is shaped by goals, knowledge, individual differences, and experiences. This work spans the fundamental to applied spectrum and brings together sensitive behavioural, eye-tracking, motion-capture and electrophysiological techniques. The ultimate goal of this research collective is to understand how memory, perception and attention shapes our interactions with the world around us and how those processes change through the lifespan.

Current Research Programmes:

Understanding impact of ageing on cognitive performance

With an increasingly ageing population it is important to understand the impact ageing has on cognitive performance. Community based, longitudinal studies of cognitive ability can give insight into those changes while also understanding the impact of practice effects and the role of attrition when studying longitudinal changes in cognition. Collaborations with the University of Manchester have provided an opportunity to examine if early signs of cognitive changes can be predictive of later decline. The ability to identify early signs of cognitive change that are linked to dementia in later life will allow for early interventions and treatments. 

The influence of social and environmental context on information processing

Humans operate in diverse social and environmental contexts on a day-to-day basis. The goal of this research is to understand how the attribution of perceived information to self and other within a given environment influences information processing. Specifically, how does the relationship between self and other influence attention and working memory processes in context and what does this mean for human performance?

Attentional control and working memory

Moment to moment, only a small amount of the information our brains receive is attended and remembered. Understanding how this information is selected has been an ongoing challenge to experimental psychologists. Here we look at how humans control visual attention and working memory, with a particular focus on the use of templates to guide attention. This work brings together sensitive behavioural, eye-tracking, and electrophysiological techniques to understand how our attention is controlled, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Autistic-Like Traits (ALTs) and Working Memory

Visual working memory (VWM) poses a number of diverse challenges for individuals. When carrying out this task most will attempt to recruit from any cognitive resource which might help support task performance, and attentional control in the form of organising and re-coding the visual information is of key importance. However, research with individuals with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder suggest that this form of attentional control is compromised, and thus very high levels of ALTs appears to undermine task performance. The aim within this research programme is to identify where within the VWM task demands the possession of ALTs may result in typical or even superior performance.

Group members

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

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Research Staff Profiles

Our students learn from the best – inspirational academic staff with a genuine passion for their subject, whose teaching is shaped by world-leading and internationally excellent research.

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