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Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group

Cognitive Neuroscience
Members and research

The Cognitive Neuroscience research group is based in the Department of Psychology at Liverpool Hope University. We are a small group who study the brain mechanisms of cognitive functions. We carry out basic research in areas such as perception, emotion, and memory, as well as studying more applied topics such as neuroaesthetics and prosthetic limb control.

To investigate the neural basis of cognitive functions, we mainly use human encephalography (EEG) recordings to derive event-related potentials (ERPs) that are time-locked to an experimental event. We also employ functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and eye-tracking to provide data about on-going neural and behavioural responses.

Our research is fully integrated into the teaching curriculum, specifically in the MSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging course, and in the undergraduate Cognitive Neuroscience third-year optional course. We currently have two PhD students in our group.

We are affiliated with the Liverpool Neuroscience Group.

Dr Neil Harrison

Dr Harrison's research interests include multisensory perception, emotion, and action control. In the area of multisensory processing, Dr Harrison is interested in the effect of emotional stimuli in one modality (e.g., vision) on processing in a separate modality (e.g., hearing).

Dr Harrison is using ERPs to study the influence of spontaneous (or 'habitual') emotion regulation on the time-course of neural processing of emotional pictures, and to investigate the influence of expectations on brain processes related to emotion.

In action control studies, Dr Harrison showed that action effect anticipation influences multiple stages of response preparation. He is currently planning studies to investigate the influence of action effect anticipation in more natural paradigms (i.e., when the actions are self-paced). In more applied research, he is investigating eye movements and neural processing associated with the control of prosthetic limbs.

Dr Alla Yankouskaya

Dr Yankouskaya’s research focused on neurocognitive mechanisms of perceptual integration of information derived from faces. She uses a novel approach to testing for perceptual integration between identity and emotional processing in faces using mathematical modelling and examines neural mechanisms supporting the integrative processing at the neural level with fMRI in healthy participants and HFAD&AS.

Dr Yankouskaya's current research investigates cognitive and neural mechanisms of the effects of personal relevance on perception, attention, and memory. Specifically, she examines whether neural representations of self-association with simple objects share common coding with reward, in-group membership and emotion processing. One major feature of her research is to understand the link between behavioural performance and underlying neural mechanisms. To establish the link, she combines modelling of psychophysics data (RT, eye-tracking) with neuroimaging data (fMRI).

Dr Noreen O'Sullivan

Within the area of neuroscience, Dr O’Sullivan’s interests include learning, memory, decision-making, and multi-sensory perception (related to embodiment).  She is particularly interested in the application of neuroscientific methods to questions pertaining to individual differences, including those of a clinical/mental health nature.

Dr Michiel Spape

My research interests are in perception-action integration, cognitive control, episodic memory, haptics, affective and social neuroscience. I like working with new, technological gadgets (e.g. Kinect, Virtual Reality, mediated communication, brain-computer interfaces) and challenging cognitive measures (EEG/ERP, eye-tracking, pupil measurements, EMG, ECG, movement tracking). See: 

Dr Letizia Palumbo

Dr Palumbo's research activity focuses on two main areas: social cognitive neuroscience and neuroaesthetics (see also the Neuroaesthetics research group).

Specifically, Dr Palumbo investigates typical and atypical ‘emotional anticipation’ (i.e. the ability to immediately capture and anticipate changes in the emotional state of an individual) in different social contexts and the underlying neural correlates within the Social Brain network.

Her research works in neuroaesthetics examines the interconnections between sensory-motor and emotional processing and the neural correlates underpinning the aesthetic appreciation for a variety of visual stimuli, including art works and design.

Dr Nicola Jones

Dr Jones's research looks at the impact of blood sugar regulation on memory using event-related potentials (ERPs).

Previous studies have indicated that individuals who have relatively poor blood sugar regulation have impairments in memory processing compared to those with good blood sugar regulation.
Her current research explores the impact of blood sugar regulation on memory in young and middle-aged adults using ERPs as not much existing research has been conducted on when these impairments occur. Are there problems in the encoding (creation) of memories or in the recollection of memories? The project will look at the impact of blood sugar regulation on both verbal memory and face recognition.

Dr Tom Gallagher-Mitchell

Dr Gallagher-Mitchell completed his PhD on the topic of "Activation of Numerical Representations: Sources of Variability". Wherein he used a number of behavioural paradigms to investigate links between spatial-numerical processing, and the neural overlap between space, time and number concepts. Currently Dr Gallagher-Mitchell is developing this area of work in applying TMS to parietal areas to investigate the extent to which numerical concepts (and their varying representations) relay on shared neural networks.

PhD students

Ann-Kathrin Johnen

In her PhD project, Anna is investigating the influence of anticipation on the processing of emotional pictures. Anna is using ERPs to assess the effect of different types of anticipatory cues on the neural processing of subsequent images.

Johnny Parr

Johnny's PhD is an investigation of the processing related to the control of prosthetic arms. He is investigating the neural correlates (using ERPs and coherence analysis) and eye-tracking behaviour, of the skilled use of prosthetic upper limbs.


Our labs are located in the Health Sciences Building:

Electroencephalography (EEG) Lab

We have a 64-channel EEG system with active electrodes (BioSemi). We use MatLab, EEGLAB, and BESA for the analysis of EEG signals. The EEG lab has a recording room where the participants is seated, and an adjoining room for the experimenter and acquisition PCs.

Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Lab

We have a FNIR, fNIRSoft Std, & Comp 220 V systems

Eye tracking Lab

Here we have an EyeLink 1000/2000 system (SR Research). The lab also has a monitor with a fast refresh rate.


We have a Magstim 2002 single pulse, monophasic stimulator used for cortical and peripheral stimulation, with a double 70mm remote control coil. Members of the group also work as part of the cross-departmental TMS for Neuroscience research group coordinated by Dr Caroline Wakefield (Health Sciences).


BioFlexComp Infiniti system (Bio-Medical Instruments Inc.) which records a set of physiological parameters such as Electroencephalogram, electromyogram, electrocardiogram, blood volume pulse, respiration, temperature, skin conductance.


Barral, O., Kosunen, I., Ruotsalo, T., Spape, M. M., Eugster, M. J. A., Ravaja, N., Kaski, S. & Jacucci, G. (2017). BCI for Physiological Text Annotation.2017 ACM Workshop on An Application-oriented Approach to BCI out of the laboratory, 9-13

Harjunen, V.J., Spape, M., Ahmed, I., Jacucci, G., & Ravaja, N. (2017). Individual differences in affective touch: Behavioral inhibition and gender define how an interpersonal touch is perceived. Personality & Individual Differences, 107, 88-95.

Harrison, N.R., & Chassy, P. (2017). Habitual use of cognitive reappraisal to regulate emotions is associated with decreased amplitude of the late positive potential (LPP). Journal of Psychophysiology

Moradi, Z., Mantini, D., Yankouskaya, A., Hewstone, M., & Humphreys, G. (2017). Changes in intrinsic functional connectivity and group relevant salience: The case of sport rivalry. Behavioural Brain Research, 332, 126-135, doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.04.045

Parr, J.V.V., Vine, S.J., Harrison, N. R., & Wood, G. (2017). Examining the spatiotemporal disruption to gaze when using a myoelectric prosthetic hand. Journal of Motor Behavior

Ravaja, N., Harjunen, V.J., Ahmed, I., Jacucci, G., & Spape, M. (2017). Feeling Touched: Emotional Modulation of Somatosensory
Potentials to Interpersonal Touch. Scientific Reports, 7, 40504 | DOI: 10.1038/srep40504

O'Regan, L. Spape, M. M. & Serrien, D. J. (2017). Motor timing and covariation with time perception: investigating the role of handedness. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11, 147.

Spape, M., Harjunen, V.J., & Ravaja, N. (2017). Effects of touch on emotional face processing: A study of event-related potentials, facial EMG and cardiac activity. Biological Psychology, 124, 1-10.

Yankouskaya, A., Stolte, M., Rotshtein, P., Humphreys, G. (2017). The Orbito-Frontal Cortex contributes capacity processing in faces. Brain and Cognition, 116, 29-29

Yankouskaya, A, Sui, J, Moradi, Z, Rotshtein, P, & Humphreys, G. (2017). Applications of capacity analysis into social cognition domain. In Little, D., Altieri, N., Fific, M., Yang, C. (Eds). Systems Factorial Technology. A Theory Driven Methodology for the Identification of Perceptual and Cognitive Mechanisms, (pp. 381-400). Academic Press


Ahmed, I. Harjunen, V., Jacucci, G., Hoggan, E., Ravaja, N. & Spape, M.M. (2016). Reach Out and Touch Me: Effects of Four Distinct Haptic Technologies on Affective Touch in Virtual Reality. ACM International Conference on Multimodal Interaction: ICMI 2016

Ahmed, I., Harjunen, V. Jacucci, G., Ravaja, N., & Spape, M.M. (2016). Total immersion: designing for affective symbiosis in a virtual reality game with haptics, biosensors and emotive agents. In: Gamberini L., Spagnolli A., Jacucci G., Blankertz B., Freeman J. (eds). Symbiotic Interaction. Fifth International Workshop, Symbiotic 2016, Padua, Italy, September 29-30.

Harrison, N.R., & Ziessler, M. (2016). Effect anticipation affects perceptual, cognitive, and motor phases of response preparation: evidence from an event-related potential (ERP) study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10:5. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00005.

Harrison, N.R., & Woodhouse, R. (2016). Modulation of Auditory Spatial Attention by Visual Emotional Cues: Differential Effects of Attentional Engagement and Disengagement for Pleasant and Unpleasant Cues. Cognitive Processing, 17, 205-211.

Jones, N., Riby, L.M., & Smith, M.A. (2016). Impaired word and face recognition in older adults with Type 2 Diabetes. Archives of Medical Research, 47, 372-381.

Lyons, M., Marcinkowska, U., Moisey, V., & Harrison, N. (2016). The effects of resource availability and relationship status on women's preference for masculinity: An eye-tracking study. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 25-28.

Makin A. D. J., Wright, D., Rampone, G., Palumbo, L., Guest, M., Sheehan, R., Cleaver, H., & Bertamini, M. (2016). An electrophysiological index of perceptual goodness. Cerebral Cortex, doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw255.

Palumbo, L., & Bertamini, M. (2016). Preference for curvature: immediate or mediated response? Empirical Studies of the Art, 34, 35-52.

Serrien, D. & Spapé, M. (2016). Manual dexterity: Functional lateralisation patterns and motor efficiency. Brain and Cognition, 108, 42-46.

Spapé, M. M., & Ravaja, N. (2016). Not My Problem: Vicarious Conflict Adaptation with Human and Virtual Co-Actors. Frontiers in Psychology.

Yankouskaya, A., Palmer, D., Sui, J, & Humphreys, G. (2016). Self-bias modulates saccadic control. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68(4), 1-25.


Harrison, N.R., Witheridge, S., Makin, A.D., Pegna, A.J., Wuerger, S.M., & Meyer, G.F. (2015). The effects of stereo disparity on the behavioural and electrophysiological correlates of perception of audio-visual motion in depth. Neuropsychologia, 78, 51-62.

Moradi, Z., Yankouskaya, A., Duta, M., Hewstone, M., Humphreys, G. (2015). The rival doesn’t catch my eyes: In-group relevance modulates inhibitory control over anti-saccades, Visual Cognition,

Palumbo, L., Bertamini, M., & Makin, A. J. (2015). Scaling of the extrastriate neural response to symmetry. Vision Research, 117, 1-8.

Palumbo, L., Odgen, R., Makin, A., J., & Bertamini, M. (2015). Does preference for abstract patterns relate to information processing and perceived duration? i-Perception, 6(5), 1-16.

Palumbo, L., Ruta, N., & Bertamini, M. (2015). Comparing angular and curved shapes in terms of implicit associations and approach/avoidance responses. Plos One, 10(10) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140043.

Palumbo, L., Burnett, H. G., & Jellema, T. (2015). Atypical emotional anticipation in high-functioning autism. Molecular Autism, DOI:10.1186/s13229-015-0039-7.

Bertamini, M., Palumbo, L., Gheorghes, T., N., & Galatsidas, M. (2015). Do observers like curvature or do they dislike angularity? British Journal of Psychology, DOI:10.1111/bjop.12132.

Spapé, M. M., Filetti, M., Eugster, J.A., Jacucci, G., & Ravaja, N. (2015). Human computer interaction meets psychophysiology: A critical perspective. Symbiotic Interaction, vol. 9359 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer, 2015, 145–158.

Spapé, M. M., Ahmed, I., Jacucci, G., & Ravaja, N. (2015). The self in conflict: Actors and agency in the mediated sequential Simon Task. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 304.

Stolte M, Humphreys G, Yankouskaya A, Sui J. (2015). Dissociating Biases Towards the Self and Positive Emotion. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 7, 1-34


Harrison, N.R., & McCann, A. (2014). The effect of colour and size on attentional bias to alcohol-related pictures. Psicológica, 35, 39-48.

Jones, N., Riby, L.M., Mitchell, R.L.C. & Smith, M.A. (2014) Type 2 Diabetes and Memory: Using Neuroimaging to Understand the Mechanisms. Current Diabetes Reviews, 10, 118-123.

Luciani, M., Cecchini, M., Altavilla, D., Palumbo, L., Aceto, P., … Lai, C. (2014). Neural correlates of the projection of mental states on the not-structured visual stimuli, Neuroscience Letters, 573, 24-29.

Yankouskaya, A., Rotshtein, P., Humphreys, G. (2014). Processing of facial identity and expression is interactive, but dependent on task and experience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00920

Yankouskaya, A., Rotshtein, P., & Humphreys, G. (2014). Interactions between Identity and Emotional Expression in Face Processing across the Lifespan: Evidence from Redundancy Gains. Journal of Aging Research,

Yankouskaya, A., Humphreys, G. W., & Rotshtein, P. (2014). Differential interactions between identity and emotional expression in own and other-race faces: Effects of familiarity revealed through redundancy gains. Journal of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory, Cognition. doi:10.1037/a0036259

Yankouskaya, A., Booth, D. A., & Humphreys, G. (2013). Interactions between facial emotion and identity in face processing: Evidence based on redundancy gains. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. doi:10.3758/s13414-012-0345-5