• United Kingdom


Research output per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Personal Statement

My research is focused on understanding human memory and attention, and how these cognitive processes are affected by adult ageing, emotion (especially anxiety), and lifestyle factors (such as cognitive engagement). 

I gained my PhD in cognitive ageing at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2007. I then worked as a postdoctoral fellow, first at Glasgow Caledonian and then at The University of Edinburgh, where I worked on European Research Council and Leverhulme Trust-funded research projects. Prior to joining Strathclyde, I was a Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University (2011-2014). Some of my research on ageing has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Chief Scientist Office.

I am Director of the Strathclyde Ageing Network, comprising Strathclyde's multidisciplinary ageing-related researchers and professionals.

I am a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society and the Higher Education Academy, and a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society.

Research Interests

My core interest is in cognitive ability in young and older adults. My research focuses upon understanding short-term ("working") memory and attention mechanisms, with an emphasis on processing and retaining visual information. A current area of focus is upon the ability to associate ("bind") visual information in working memory, and the ways in which this may be affected by ageing. Some of my research in this area has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. I am also interested in how young and older adults can maintain and even improve their cognitive functioning, for example by using cognitive strategies or by considering lifestyle factors such as level of cognitive engagement. Another area of interest is regarding the impacts of emotion, particularly anxiety, on attention and working memory.

Teaching Interests

My teaching is focused in the areas of cognition and the psychology of ageing. I am the class leader of the honours topic "psychology and ageing", and I also teach in this area in the level 3 Development class. I supervise undergraduate, masters, and PhD level research. 


I am currently supervising the following PhD students:

  1. Abigail Paterson (co-supervisor). Topic: ‘implementation intentions, cognitive abilities and self-harm’ (ESRC-funded).
  2. Anna Krzeczkowska (lead supervisor). Topic: ‘intergenerational engagement interventions for enhanced cognition in older age’ (University-funded).
  3. David Spalding (lead supervisor). Topic: ‘the impact of anxiety on visual attention and working memory’ (University funded).
  4. Rebecca Wagstaff (co-supervisor). Topic: ‘mechanisms of cognitive and language impairment in Parkinson's Disease’ (University funded).

Expertise & Capabilities

- human memory and attention

- visual and spatial short-term ("working") memory

- cognitive ageing

- lifestyle effects on cognition

- the role of cognition in health, especially regarding ageing

- emotional impacts on cognition, especially anxiety.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Glasgow Caledonian University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Master of Science, University of Stirling

Award Date: 1 Jan 2002

Bachelor of Arts, University of Strathclyde

Award Date: 1 Jan 2001


  • Cognitive Ageing
  • Memory
  • Attention

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.


Research Output

Impacts of trait anxiety on visual working memory, as a function of task demand and situational stress

Spalding, D. M., Obonsawin, M., Eynon, C., Glass, A., Holton, L., McGibbon, M., McMorrow, C. L. & Brown Nicholls, L. A., 6 Aug 2020, In : Cognition and Emotion.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Multimodal coding and strategic approach in young and older adults' visual working memory performance

Nicholls, L. A. B. & English, B., 31 Jan 2020, In : Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. 27, 1, p. 83-113 31 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
1 Citation (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Chartered Psychologist

Brown Nicholls, Louise (Recipient), Jun 2015

Prize: Other distinction

Elected Member of the Experimental Psychology Society

Brown Nicholls, Louise (Recipient), Jan 2011

Prize: Election to learned society


Speaker at the University of the Third Age, Paisley & District.

Louise Brown (Speaker)

5 Jul 2018

Activity: Other activity typesTypes of Public engagement and outreach - To be assigned

Working Memory Discussion Meeting

Louise Brown Nicholls (Organiser)

Jun 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference