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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 am also interested in wider health-related issues such as vaccine hesitancy.

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 an Associate Editor at Frontiers in Psychology: Cognitive Science, and I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Cognition.

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.

 

I am currently supervising the following PhD students:

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

 

Lab Alumni:

  1. Dr Elaine Niven (postdoc; 2011-12) - Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University of Dundee.
  2. Dr Catherine Blackburn (intern; 2012) - Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University.
  3. Dr Brad English (intern; 2013) - Clinical Psychologist, Nottingham NHS.
  4. Martin Nemec (intern; 2018) - went on to study at postgraduate level at King's College London.
  5. Catherine Smith (intern; 2018) - went on to study primary education at University of Glasgow.
  6. Milan Zarchev (intern; 2019) - went on to study at postgraduate level in the Netherlands.
  7. Allyson Gallant (RA; 2020) - now studying for a PhD in Health at Dalhousie University.

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 (see Research section for further information). I am also the School Director of Postgraduate Research.

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

Keywords

  • Cognitive Ageing
  • Memory
  • Attention

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