Cognition, Emotion & Behaviour

The Cognition group encompasses a wide spectrum of both applied and theoretical research that reflects the multiplicity of interests in our team. For example, a number of our colleagues investigate the cognitive deficits caused by drug misuse. Research by members of the group also looks at certain aspects of memory. These include the development and production of false memories, collaborative remembering, memory conformity, and the effects of mood on prospective memory.

Examples of research

Relationship between theory of mind, executive function and schizotypy. Dr Adam Qureshi is currently engaged in a project aiming to explore the relationship between theory of mind, executive function and schizophrenia by studying nonclinical individuals who vary in schizotypy and hence not in nonspecific effects of psychiatric illness. Schizotypy proposes a spectrum of experiences and behaviours that can be defined as psychosis-related. Schizophrenia lies at one end of this spectrum, but within the spectrum are the paranoid, schizoid or schizotypal personality disorders.

An investigation of autistic traits, performance on socio-cognitive tasks and the default mode network: An fMRI study. Some degree of autistic traits, which are behaviours associated with autism, are seen even in those without a diagnosis of autism. Such individuals might still struggle with social language or process them differently to those with fewer autistic traits. This study uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in individuals across the spectrum of autistic traits to investigate: 1. the neural network engaged in pragmatic language processing; 2. whether the overlap in neural network engaged in theory of mind and pragmatic language processing is associated with degree of autistic traits; and 3. whether autistic traits are correlated with the default mode network. MRI can help inform our understanding of the spectrum of autistic traits, by exploring which neural structures and systems are engaged in those socio-cognitive tasks typically impaired in those with autism.

Motor planning and the issue of affordances. Dr Stergios Makris aims to provide evidence about the modulation of the affordance effect under different types of attention and vision (i.e. “subliminal” affordances). Furthermore, how the ability of detecting affordances is acquired and developed through age. The methodological approaches for the aforementioned studies involve a series of behavioural, eye-tracker and brain-stimulation (single-pulse TMS, rTMS, tDCS) techniques.

Neural and cognitive underpinning of superior action prediction abilities. Dr Stergios Makris is engaged in this project which consists a series of investigations looking at the causative role of visual and motor action representations in the ability to predict the outcome of actions. This involves investigating cases of every day actions (such as reaching and grasping an object), as well as cases of actions in sports and how professional athletes are better than novices into simulating and predicting the outcome of observed sport actions. The studies involve behavioural, eye-tracker and brain-stimulation (TMS, tDCS) techniques.

How autistic individuals make predictions. Dr Themis Karaminis current work focuses on the social interaction and communication profiles of autistic individuals, and especially autistic children. This research examines how autistic individuals use knowledge accrued from their recent experiences (‘prior knowledge’) to predict what is in the environment. The project “‘I predict therefore I am!’: The predictive social mind, prior knowledge and autism” is funded by Edge Hill University’s Research Investment Fund and consists studies based on child-friendly ‘computer-games’ and eye-tracking and computational modelling techniques.

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