Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Seminar by Prof Graham Brewer, Executive Director - CIFAL Newcastle, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, UoN

The Cognitive Research Group is proud to host a talk by Prof Graham Brewer, Executive Director, CIFAL Newcastle, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, University of Newcastle. 

The CIFAL Global Network is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. The acronym CIFAL stands for "International Training Centre for Authorities and Leaders". To read more about CIFAL Newcastle click here


WHEN: Thursday 21 September, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, AVLG17. VC link to Ourimbah available on request.

TITLE: Exploring institutional decision-making: phenomenological investigation of the bounded rationalist.

ABSTRACT: The success or failure of projects conducted in the built environment depend to a greater or lesser extent upon the quality of decisions taken at significant points in the project life-cycle, their significance often only becoming apparent upon reflection. Traditional economic theory tells us that the rationalist decision-maker – Homo economicus – always makes decisions based upon optimisation of outcomes, whereas the more recent science of behavioural economics indicates that most human decision-makers are boundedly rational, making "satisficing" decisions. It is clear that Homo sapiens decision-makers, whilst aware of the need for rational data collection and analysis followed by unbiased choice selection, usually make decisions for boundedly rational reasons. The results are often "good enough" to ensure that project stakeholders are content. Nevertheless, in an industry known for small profit margins and low levels of innovation, an understanding of the influences on strategic decision-makers is instructive when considering the promotion of new technologies or processes. Whilst the decision-making process cannot ultimately be observed directly it can be understood indirectly through the lived experience of those making the decisions, those affected by their decisions, and the eventual performance of the project itself. This can be achieved by a rigourous, multi-perspective phenomenological enquiry. Such approaches can be valuable in other domains such as policy effectiveness.


Prof Graham Brewer (left), in the United Nations' conference in Ecuador

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Research by the SCAN group students and staff presented at the 2017 International Conference for Cognitive Neuroscience

SCAN researchers A/Prof Frini Karayanidis, A/Prof Juanita Todd, Emeritus Professor Pat Michie, Dr Patrick Cooper, Kaitlin Fitzgerald, Olivia Whalen and Montana McKewen recently attended the 13th International Conference for Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. ICON is one of the most prestigious scientific meetings in the field. It is held only every 3 years, and as it does not belong to any professional society, it tends to draw an inter-disciplinary and integrative audience from the field of cognitive neuroscience. The 4-day conference gave us the opportunity to present our current research as well as hear presentations from prominent researchers in the area.

Juanita coordinated and spoke in a symposium titled “Perspectives on sensory prediction”. Frini presented a poster on how the variability in white matter microstructure alters proactive and reactive cognitive control processes in ageing. Patrick’s poster was on preparatory frontoparietal theta during task-switching and how it is associated with goal-updating and improved behavioural performance. Kaitlin’s poster examined multiple timescales of automatic statistical learning modulate mismatch negativity (MMN) to auditory pattern deviations. Olivia’s poster investigated the relationship between temperament, sensory processing and attentional control development in early infancy. Montana’s poster was on the distinct phase-locked and non-phase-locked theta components of proactive control in a task-switching paradigm. The 90-minute poster sessions were a good opportunity to meet people in our respective areas and discuss methodology and findings in detail, something that is not always possible in other presentation formats. These discussions were particularly helpful for PhD students Kaitlin, Olivia and Montana to gain feedback outside of their supervisory teams.


We look forward to attending the next ICON in 2020 which will be held in Helsinki!


Monday, 11 September 2017

School seminar by Matthew Finkbeinr, Thur Sept 14, 12-1pm

The Cognitive Research Group is proud to host its cross-group seminar for Semester 2 2017, with a talk by Associate Professor Matthew Finkbeiner from Macquarie University

WHEN: Thursday 14 September, 12-1pm.

WHERE: Keats reading room, AVLG17. VC link to Ourimbah will be available.

TITLE: Using reaching movements to investigate the dynamics of cognitive control in choice-conflict tasks

Image result for matthew finkbeiner

ABSTRACT: A striking feature of human behaviour is our ability to configure our cognitive system to optimize performance in a wide range of contexts through adjustments in, for example, perceptual selection and/or response biases.  This remarkable ability is referred to as cognitive control and a central goal of cognitive science is to develop an account of how cognitive control is achieved.  In an effort to remove the homunculus from earlier theories of cognitive control, Cohen and colleagues have proposed the “Conflict Monitoring Hypothesis” (CMH).  This hypothesis has been used to explain patterns of performance in several conflict-inducing tasks (e.g. Stroop, Simon & Flanker tasks) and has received strong support across fields, including both Neuroscience and Psychology.  A core assumption of the CMH is that conflict arises as a function of the magnitude, not the timing, of the activation of competing (conflicting) representations at the response level.  In the present study, we used the reach-to-touch paradigm in a fine-grained investigation of these time- and magnitude-difference accounts of the Simon, Stroop and Flanker tasks.  Our results support the time-difference account of the Simon effect and the magnitude-difference account of the Flanker effect.  The results of the Stroop task did not strongly support either account.


CONTACT: For further information or to arrange a meeting with Matthew, please contact guy.hawkins@newcastle.edu.au


We look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Research Presentation on the psychosocial basis of bariatric surgery by Dr Martin Johnson - Tuesday 5th Sept

The School of Psychology’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group invites you to a research presentation by Rev.Dr Martin Johnson (UON School of Psychology).
       
When: 12.00pm – 1.00pm on Tuesday 5th August
Where: The Keats Reading Room, Psychology/Aviation Building (AVLG17), with video link to the Seminar Room, Science Offices at Ourimbah.

TITLE: Psychosocial predictors of obesity in patients seeking bariatric surgery identifying moderating factors of postoperative outcomes: A pilot study


ABSTRACT: The current research examines the effect of psychosocial factors and motivations of patients seeking bariatric surgery on pre-operative weight and post-operative outcomes. A sample of 108 clinically obese women seeking bariatric surgery were recruited into the study. Participants were sourced from bariatric support groups and were given a battery of psychological measures six months prior to surgery and then followed up six months post-surgery. Hierarchal regression identified psychosocial and motivational variables which predicted pre-surgery weight and weight loss following bariatric surgery. In terms of pre-surgery weight, a history of trauma, particularly sexual trauma, accounted for the greatest amount of the variance. While levels of depression and anxiety initially predicted weight, they did not independently contribute to the final model. In addition, external motivations for weight loss also positively predicated pre-operative weight. At six months post-surgery, trauma and depression negatively predicted weight loss; while internal motivations for surgery predicted more weight loss and external motivation predicted less successful outcomes post-surgery. We found that within this obese sample there was a significantly higher rate of trauma than what would be expected in the general population. Our findings suggest that a history of trauma is a significant risk factor in obesity. Female bariatric patients with a history of trauma and unresolved depression have poorer post-operative outcomes. Individuals who choose to have bariatric surgery for internal motivational reasons have more positive post-operative outcomes. These finding should only be taken as indicative, due to the sample size, a larger scale study is needed. However, the findings point to the need to screen bariatric patients for a history of trauma  and consequential depression  prior to surgery. Further research is needed to assess whether there is utility in providing preoperative psychological intervention for obese patients with a trauma history. Excess weight is far more complicated that a simple relationship between calorie intake and energy used.  This presentation highlights how obese individuals are more likely to have a history of trauma (particularly sexual trauma) compared to the general population; and that having such a history is a predictor of weight and less successful outcomes following bariatric surgery. The presentation also explores how initial motivations (either external or internal) for weight loss surgery predicts weight loss outcomes.

SHORT BIO: Martin is a health psychologist; his current research and practice interest is in bariatric psychology.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Guest seminar by Dr Kathy Low, on Optical Imaging of the Brain. HMRI, Thur 31/8, 2pm

A Little Light Goes A Long Way: Diffuse Optical Imaging of Brain and Blood Vessels

Guest Seminar by Dr Kathy Low

Thur, Aug 31, 2pm
HMRI, Caves theater 

Kathy Low is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Illinois, working in collaboration with Professors Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton (http://cnl.beckman.illinois.edu/). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1997. Dr. Low’s research is focused on the cognitive neuroscience of executive function, incorporating a range of imaging measures, including event-related brain potentials (ERPs), structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI, fMRI, DTI, ASL) and diffuse optical imaging (DOI). She has worked extensively on the development of optical brain imaging methods, with an emphasis on the event-related optical signal (EROS) and pulse-DOT (Diffuse Optical Tomography).

Her talk will briefly highlight how EROS can be used to track the time course of neuronal activity in localized brain areas. For optimal neuronal activity, however, a steady supply of oxygenated blood is needed. Therefore, the remainder of the talk will focus on recent work using the optical pulse signal to assess the state of the cerebral arteries. These pulse measures may prove to be clinically useful in assessing arterial health, especially in at-risk populations such as premature infants or in individuals with cardiovascular disease.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

H&CPRG Seminar 6th September

Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group Seminar
School of Psychology, University of Newcastle


Clarifying the Associations between Psychopathy and Individual Differences in Attachment 

The H&CPRG are pleased to present this invited seminar on the links between attachment and psychopathy. All welcome.

Date: 6th September
Time: 12 noon
Place: The Keats Room (AVLG17), Callaghan Campus (video to Ourimbah Science Offices).

Abstract:

Psychopathy is a construct characterised by a constellation of affective, interpersonal and behavioural features and is known for it's socially disruptive nature. However, despite the interpersonal destructive nature of psychopathy, there is limited information regarding how this construct relates interpersonally to others. One theory which could be useful in understanding not only the interpersonal processes of psychopathy, but potentially its etiology, is attachment theory. While a small literature regarding the association between psychopathy and attachment has been developed in recent years, there have been a number methodological issues which has made it difficult to clearly understand the relationship between attachment and psychopathy. To this end, we conducted a series of studies in university and community populations to understand the relationship between psychopathy and individual difference in general attachment style and attachment styles in specific normative attachment relationships. Our results suggest that there are consistent associations between individual differences in attachment styles and psychopathy, which tend to differ depending on the attachment dimension, component of psychopathy or specific attachment relationship under consideration. Our results are supportive of the application of attachment theory to understand the interpersonal processes of psychopathy and provide preliminary support for further consideration of attachment theory in the etiology of psychopathy.

Bio:

Elliott Christian is a registered psychologist and has recently completed his Clinical PhD at the Australian National University. His research focuses on the associations between psychopathy and attachment and he has published several articles on topic, including individual differences in attachment and psychopathy and the psychometric properties of psychopathy scales.



Monday, 28 August 2017

Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research Public Forum 2017: talk on Human Irrationality, by Prof Ben Newell

The Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research (CBMHR), in partnership with
Hunter Medical Research Institure (HMRI) invites you to a free public forum presented
by Ben Newell, Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Deputy Head of the School of Psychology,
University of New South Wales (UNSW).



Professor Ben Newell

Title: Intuitively (Ir)rational? A user's guide to the science of the mind.

In the "post-truth" world it has never been easier to obtain information but never
harder to filter and verify it. Traditional and social media are awash with reports of
how to 'nudge' people towards improved health, wealth and happiness by capitalising
on principles of behaviour uncovered in the psychology laboratory. But the popularity
of psychology research also presents a challenge to the user of the 'science
of the mind'.

Are we doomed to be (predictably) irrational? Are there two (or more) brain/mind
systems squabbling over the right to make decisions for us? Should we believe
claims of an 'intelligent unconscious' that can make our difficult decisions for us?
How often are the 'sexy' findings that reach the media backed up by rigorous and
replicable research?

This talk grapples with this rich, seductive but often confusing landscape. It offers
an alternative take on the zeitgeist for easily-led, irrational humans and provides a
guide for applying what we know about how we think to the problems we face as a
society.

Location:  NeW Space Newcastle, Room, X101, Level 1
Date: Thursday, 31st August 2017
Time: 6.00pm to 8.00pm (Light refreshments provided)

For more information, please contact
e: Angela.Hawke@newcastle.edu.au
p: (02) 4033 5706

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

EQUITY & DIVERSITY SERIES: Research on emobodied stigma by Ass/Prof Stephanie Gilbert on Tuesday 29 August 12-1pm

The School of Psychology’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group invites you to a research presentation by Ass.Prof. Stephanie Gilbert (Fullbright research fellow, UON Wollotuka institute) as part of our Equity and Diversity Colloquium Series.

When: 12.00pm – 1.00pm on Tuesday 29th August
Where: The Keats Reading Room, Psychology/Aviation Building (AVLG17), with video link to the Seminar Room, Science Offices at Ourimbah.
NB. This presentation will be recorded. Make contact with Stefania.Paolini@newcastle.edu.au if interested in viewing.


Title: Living in the Dysmorphic Body
Abstract:
What if you would look down to your arm and hands, see brown skin and feel nothing but disgust or confusion? This is a consequence of the Australian assimilationist policies enacted for Aborigines. Assimilationist policies impacted on those things which construct Aboriginality including culture, family and self-identity. So young people had limited exposure or experience of Aboriginal culture, family and no reinforcement to live ‘as an Aborigine'. This has resulted in a disjuncture between what they see in the mirror and how they interpret it. We now know this learning can become etched into their psyche, body, at genetic and multi-generational levels. Is this so with other Native Americans and Canadians?

Brief Bio:
Awarded Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholarship for 2017,  Dr Gilbert will work at the UCLA American Indian Studies Centre. With qualifications in welfare, social work, women’s studies and a phd. in history, Dr Gilbert has publications in enabling education, stolen generations, Indigenous education, Indigenous research methodologies and social work with Indigenous people. Her last publication in Critical Social Work focused on teasing out the new workplace for Aboriginal workers in the neoliberal environment. Aboriginal workers in this context are understood to have ‘no history’ and somewhat interchangeable irrespective of qualification and yet Aboriginal workers who are specifically employed as Aboriginal people to do sometimes unarticulated ‘Aboriginal’ things. Hence they are not ‘ahistorical’. Her work at all times though has sought to understand how it is that Aboriginality can be a historically bound position, a political stance as well as a racial position and other things as well. Acceptance of the individual’s articulation of identity and Aboriginal identity is the core
                                                             substance to Dr Gilbert’s scholarship.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

EQUITY&DIVERSITY SERIES: Research talk on sexual diversity, prejudice and wellbeing by Ass.Prof MIles Bore

The School of Psychology’s Social and Organisational Psychology Research Group invites you to a research presentation by Ass.Prof. Miles Bore as part of our Equity and Diversity Colloquium Series.

When: 12.00pm – 1.00pm on Tuesday 22nd August
Where: The Keats Reading Room, Psychology/Aviation Building (AVLG17), with video link to the Seminar Room, Science Offices at Ourimbah.

Title
Sexual diversity and sexual prejudice: we need a greater understanding of 'willingness to cause harm'

Abstract
Research continues to demonstrate that sexuality is multidimensional and more diverse than the three sexual identity labels of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. My presentation moves through three topics. First, I will present data demonstrating the diversity of sexuality. Second, we will briefly consider the research into the mental health of same-sex attracted people and the causal role of sexual prejudice. We will then consider the psychology of those who engage in sexual prejudice and the need for further research into this willingness to cause harm.






Brief Bio
Associate Professor Miles is an academic researcher in the area of personality and individual differences. His current focus is on applying individual differences theory and methodology to diversity in gender and sexuality. He has worked at the School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, since 2001 and is Deputy Head of School (Teaching). Other research projects have been in the areas of morality, psychometrics, selection of applicants to medical and allied health education, and the measurement of personality in late childhood.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Seminar - The epidemiology and treatment of smoking in people with mental health disorders.

Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group Seminar

The epidemiology and treatment of smoking in people with mental health disorders.   

Dr Gemma Taylor

University of Bristol

Please join us for this lunch time seminar.

Time: 12 noon, 9th August
Place: The Keats Reading Room (AVLG17), Callaghan Campus, UoN (video conferenced to Ourimbah)


Abstract: Tobacco is the world’s leading preventable cause of disease and death. In the UK and in other developed nations smoking prevalence has significantly declined in the general population, but has remained unchanged in those with mental health problems resulting in an excess burden of smoking-related mortality in this group. People with depression are twice as likely to smoke and are less responsive to standard tobacco treatments than are the general population, leading to a call for population-targeted interventions. Gemma will talk about her research to-date exploring the epidemiology and treatment of smoking in people with mental health disorders, with a focus on people with depression. Specifically, she will discuss results from a systematic review and meta-analysis that examined the impact of smoking cessation and on change in mental health, and she will introduce her fellowship research examining the parallel treatment of smoking and depression

Bio: From 2007 to 2011 Gemma studied psychology at The University of Worcester while working at a mental health recovery centre as a social support worker. After completing a MSc in clinical psychology Gemma was awarded a scholarship to complete a PhD in Epidemiology at The University of Birmingham. In 2014 she received her PhD which focused on the association between smoking cessation and mental health - and part of this work was awarded BMJ’s “Best Research Paper Award” for 2014. Gemma relocated to The University of Bristol to start a postdoc at the MRC's integrative epidemiology unit, and her research has focused on the application of causal epidemiological techniques including propensity score matching and instrumental variable analyses, during this time her research examined the effectiveness of smoking cessation medications on quitting smoking in the general population and in people with mental health disorders. In 2016 Gemma was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from Cancer Research UK to develop a bespoke a smoking cessation intervention for people with depression to be delivered in community mental health settings, and to test the intervention in terms of its acceptability and feasibility. Gemma is currently a member of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, at The University of Bristol.