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PhD Scholarships: Cognitive Psychology

PhD Scholarships Wednesday 24 June 2015

Liverpool Hope had launched a series of PhD Scholarships and welcomes applications from outstanding individuals of a high calibre to pursue PhD research at Liverpool Hope University in selected areas. We are seeking confident, innovative postgraduates with a record of achievement to undertake a broad range of thematic and inter-disciplinary projects. This call is open to both UK/EU and international applicants.

You can find full details about the Scholarships or you can also contact Research Officer Mr Chris Lowry quoting '2015 Vice-Chancellor's PhD Scholarships' for more information, by emailing researchdegrees@hope.ac.uk

The Scholarships available will be selected from a range of specific project. Over the coming weeks, www.hope.ac.uk will profile the details of these areas of research.

Cognitive Psychology

The acquisition of abstract mathematical cognition

Principal Investigator: Dr Philippe Chassy chassyp@hope.ac.uk

To date, the advanced stages of mathematical cognition have received little attention. Evidence suggests that intuition - a feature of advanced expertise - appears simultaneously with abstract thinking, which lies at the base of mathematical expertise. The studies proposed in this PhD project will primarily focus on the activity in the parieto-frontal network. Establishing how the prefrontal cortex monitors mathematical learning will inform of the mechanisms underpinning expertise acquisition. Contrasting the learning of simple, concrete concepts with the acquisition of complex, abstract concepts will clarify the contribution of the prefrontal cortex in shaping the mental concepts that are later stored in long term memory for mathematical interpretation. By comparing brain activation in novices and experts we will map the regions of the brain manipulating abstract mathematical concepts. The results will give rise to a new view of mathematical learning, with implications from both theoretical and practical points of view.

Applicants with knowledge in the psychology of expertise or mathematical cognition (triple code model) and with experience in neuroimaging are particularly welcome to apply. Since a genetic study is planned, experience in a medical setting would be beneficial.

 

Memory performance in healthy ageing and early dementia

Principal Investigator: Dr Davide Bruno brunod@hope.ac.uk

Early intervention is a potential solution to delay the onset of dementia and reduce prevalence, but this approach relies on early detection of change in cognitive and brain activity. Early detection, in turn, is typically reliant upon access to neuroimaging and/or analysis of biomarkers; these are expensive and, sometimes, impractical procedures. A cheaper alternative is to develop sensitive behaviour-based tests to act as cognitive markers of the disease. These markers can be measured by simple tasks, often comparable to computer games. In this project, the focus will be on the study of cognitive markers for early detection with particular emphasis on memory performance. Participants will be young and older healthy controls, and individuals with cognitive impairment. Data will be collected from a variety of sources, including both face-to-face and online tests.

Empirical investigations of the sensory-motor account of vision: How action planning affects perception

Principal Investigator: Professor Michael Ziessler ziesslm@hope.ac.uk

In modern digital photography the light reflected from the objects in the environment is projected on a matrix of light sensitive sensor elements that record the intensity and colour of the reflected light. Out of this information stored in the memory of the device the picture of the environment can be created on a digital screen. The picture depends only on the captured environment, the quality of the optical system leading to the projection and the amount and quality of the senor elements. It would be obvious to compare visual perception with such a system. The outside world is projected on the retina. The action potentials induced in the rods and cones are sent to the brain where an internal representation of the outside world is created. However, given the limited optical quality of the eye lens, the unequal distribution of colour sensitive receptors on the retina and its concave structure this would only lead to a relatively poor picture of the outside world. O’Regan and Noe (2001) have suggested a sensory-motor account of vision that has the potential to solve this problem. Following this account, perception is understood as the active exploration of the environment. Perception consists in the anticipation of the effects of planned motor actions. With the project we want to show that the perception of visual space is directly linked to the planning of eye-movements to scan the space. The perceived distance between two points should increase the more effort is required to perform a saccadic eye-movement from one point to the other. If this idea is correct, then the experimental manipulation of saccadic eye-movements should lead to a distortion of visual space. The results will shed light on the question how the motor system is used to calibrate the otherwise unreliable sensory information.

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