Projects per year
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 across the adult lifespan, such as vaccine hesitancy. My research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Chief Scientist Office, and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.
I am Director of the Strathclyde Ageing Network, comprising Strathclyde's multidisciplinary ageing-related researchers and key external partners. I am also a member of the planning group of the Scottish Older People's Assembly.
I gained my PhD in cognitive ageing at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2007. I then worked as a postdoctoral fellow, first at Glasgow Caledonian University 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 (2011-14). I am a Fellow of the Psychonomic Society and the Higher Education Academy, and a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society.
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:
- Laura Manderson (lead supervisor; from Oct. 2020). Topic: 'ageing and communication: Understanding the roles of cognition, speech production, and social participation' (ESRC-funded; 1+3 award).
- Abigail Paterson (co-supervisor; from Oct. 2018). Topic: ‘implementation intentions, cognitive abilities and self-harm’ (ESRC-funded).
- Anna Krzeczkowska (lead supervisor; from Oct. 2017). Topic: ‘intergenerational engagement interventions for enhanced cognition in older age’ (University-funded).
Key lab Alumni:
- Dr David Spalding (lead PhD supervisor; 2017-2021). Topic: ‘the impact of anxiety on visual attention and working memory’ (University-funded). Went on to an MRC-funded postdoctoral research position at University of Sussex.
- Rebecca Hart (Carnegie Trust summer scholarship supervisor; 2021). The role of semantics and strategy training in visual working memory.
- Dr Rebecca Wagstaff (PhD co-supervisor; 2015-21). Topic: ‘mechanisms of cognitive and language impairment in Parkinson's Disease’ (University funded). Research Officer with the Risk Management Authority.
- Allyson Gallant (RA co-supervisor; 2020) - went on to study for a PhD in Health at Dalhousie University.
- Milan Zarchev (intern supervisor; 2019) - went on to study for a masters and then PhD at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.
- Catherine Smith (intern supervisor; 2018) - went on to study primary education at University of Glasgow.
- Martin Nemec (intern supervisor; 2018) - went on to study at postgraduate level at King's College London.
- Dr Brad English (intern supervisor; 2013) - Clinical Psychologist, Nottingham NHS.
- Dr Catherine Blackburn (intern supervisor; 2012) - Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University.
- Dr Elaine Niven (postdoc. lead supervisor; 2011-12) - Senior Lecturer in Psychology at University of Dundee.
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.
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):
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
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Ageing and communication: Understanding the roles of cognition, speech production, and social participation
1/10/20 → 30/09/24
Project: Research - Studentship
Improving young adults’ visual short-term memory capacity: harnessing the benefits of visual semantics and strategic training
Brown Nicholls, L. & Hart, R.
1/06/21 → 23/08/21
Improving older adults' vaccination uptake: are existing measures of vaccine hesitancy valid and reliable for older people?Cogan, N., Gallant, A. J., Nicholls, L. A. B., Rasmussen, S., Young, D. & Williams, L., 11 Apr 2022, In: Journal of Health Psychology. p. 1-12 12 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile5 Downloads (Pure)
Brown Nicholls, Louise (Recipient), Jan 2011
Prize: Election to learned society