Cognitive Science Research Group


Alex BalaniSenior
Rowan BrooksPhD
Joyce HumphriesSenior
Themis KaraminisSenior
Damien LitchfieldSenior
Stergios MakrisSenior
Joanne PowellSenior
Adam QureshiSenior
Felicity WolohanSenior


Drug Misuse and Cognitive Deficits

Professor Philip Murphy’s research focusses on the effects of such drug misuse on different aspects of working memory (i.e. memory which helps us cope with the immediate world around us), with particular attention to executive processes such as the ability to update our representations of what is happening in the light of incoming information, and the ability to switch the focus of our attention. These findings in this field have been published in high profile journals around the world, presented at international conferences, and have received much media attention at times.

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.