Friday, 19 December 2014

Semester 2 Highlights


Academic Promotions 

Congratulations to Scott Brown (Level E) and Darren Burke (Level D) on their recently awarded academic promotions.

Congratulations to Dr Lousie Houlcroft.
Under the authority of the University Council, Louise was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Psychology on 9 December. A great effort and well within RTS time. Congratulations also to Louise’s supervisors: Miles Bore and Don Munro.

2015 ARC Funding Recipients - an excellent outcome for the School of Psychology
  • Professor Simon Dennis, Professor Andrew Heathcote and Associate Professor Vladimir Sloutsky (Ohio State University) were awarded $757,800 for a project that aims to develop a model of episodic memory, the category of memory that allows people to recall specific experiences, events and times. Professor Dennis' project will apply the model to both adult and child development data, enhancing understanding of when episodic memory develops in children and young adults. This grant was the largest given for Psychology or Cognitive Science in the 2015 round, and was the second largest grant obtained by UON.
  • Dr Stefania Paolini, Professor Jake Harwood, Associate Professor David Neumann and Professor Miles Hewstone received $293,400 for their research into intergroup contact (face-to-face interactions between people of opposing groups).
Academic Promotions
Congratulations to Scott Brown (Level E) and Darren Burke (Level D) on their recently awarded academic promotions.

13th Australian Conference on Personality and Individual Differences
Miles Bore and Don Munro organised the 13th Australian Conference on Personality and Individual Differences (ACPID) held at the Newcastle Travelodge 27 and 28 November. The conference, officially opened by HoS Prof Simon Denis,  was attended by 80 delegates from around Australia and included keynote addresses, symposia,  individual papers and a rapid poster presentation sessions (much like the 3 minute thesis format).

Three Minute Thesis Finalist
Kate Bartlem  presented her research "Changing Practice: Addressing Physical Health in Mental Health Services" at the Faculty Heat of the Three Minute Thesis Competition. Kate was one of three Faculty finalists to go through to the University Final held in July. Well done Kate!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL PSYCHOLOGY 4TH YEAR RESEARCH CONFERENCE

The 13th annual 4th Year Psychology Research Conference was held at Panthers Newcastle on Wednesday 12th November.  It was opened by the PVC of the Faculty of Science and IT, Prof Bill Hogarth, who commented that one thing he had learnt about Psychology over the years, is that it is multidisciplinary.  And this variety was obvious at the Conference:  97 4th Year students presented their year’s research project in 44 individual oral presentations and 13 group posters ranging from neuroscience and physiology of brain processing to mathematical models of cognition and memory to wide ranging topics in clinical, social, health and applied Psychology. The presentation abstracts were all recorded in a Program Booklet designed and produced by the Conference organiser, Dr Sally McFadden who initiated the first Conference back in 2002.  This year, for the first time, the Conference was open to other Psychology students and the School of Psychology UoN Academy Members. Those who attended the Conference were rewarded with high quality presentations that made all staff extremely proud of their student’s efforts and their impressive ability to answer tricky questions and enthusiastically explain their project outcomes.  The annual photograph (shown below) managed to get everyone’s face showing with a smile and was taken with much fun.  The atmosphere of the day was also captured  with outstanding snaps taken by our Deputy Head of School and in-house photographer, Dr Stuart Marlin.

The variety of topics during the day meant that there was something to stimulate everyone interests with one of the most popular presentation awards going to Amanda Boer for her talk on the development of a Subjective Sexual Arousal Scale for the Affective Neuroscience Personality Scale!  At the end of the day, staff and students retired to the Cocktail party room, and Prof Deborah Hodgson, the UoN Acting PVC for Research, presented the awards to a happy crowd. The top award went to Stephanie Watters for her intriguing work on how disturbance of neonatal hormones influence pain processing in adulthood. Philippa Ditton-Phare, Amanda Mazzoni and Michelle Hedgecoe won Best Presentation Awards for their research investigating  training effects on communication skills in Psychiarists, uncovering female spatial ability, and understanding how sound and touch are integrated in brain processing respectively, while the best poster award went to Karen Andrew, Selina Chapman, Elizabeth Doel and Craig Pinchbeck  for their work on the impact of different types of Cigarette Packaging.  After the awards, frivolity and celebrations continued with music and dancing, and students from the Ourimbah campus who had to travel to Newcastle for the day, made the most of the evening and were the last to leave.

Next year we will hold our Conference at Ourimbah in the first week of November, so save the date and come and see what The School of Psychology is up to!





Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cognitive Psychology Colloquium Thursday 10th December

When: Thursday 11th December, 12-1pm
Where: Keats Reading Room, Psychology Building

What: Rachel Vickery's PhD Confirmation Seminar  

Criterion setting has been largely assumed and unexplored in psychology. Traditionally criteria are used in signal detection models to distinguish between the presence or absence of stimuli on a given trial or in decision making models to quantify the decision criterion or threshold. This thesis will investigate criterion setting via two experimental streams; 1) Best-Worst choice scaling in recognition memory, and 2) Trial-to trial changes in speed accuracy tradeoff criterion settings. The aim of this thesis is to provide insight into criterion setting using different experimental paradigms and analysis methods and to also determine the time course of criterion setting.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Synergy Between UON School of Psychology and HNE Health Makes a Great 2014 Psychology Professional Day



During this year’s Psychology Week, UoN School of Psychology successfully hosted and co-organised with Hunter New England Health the largest Psychology Professional Day in the Hunter. More than 200 psychologists and psychology trainees gathered together on campus from the Health Service, the University, private practice, government agencies and NGOs for a day of professional development on promoting clinical excellence and culturally respectful practices.

Psychology across the lifespan was the key theme of this year’s conference. The key note speaker A/Professor Ross Wilkinson from UoN School of Psychology has been a ‘big draw’ card for this year’s conference. Ross is a very experienced and respected clinician and academic in the area of attachment across the lifespan; he kept the audience together despite stratospheric temperatures on the day!



The UoN School of Psychology's  
key note speaker: A/Prof Ross Wilkinson


Several members of staff, postgraduate, and undergraduate students attended and played an active role in the day, including the zealous members of our vibrant psychology society. Simon Dennis welcomed the conference delegates on behalf of the school and psychology clinic at the beginning of the day. On the day Frini Karayanidis and Kerry Chalmers convened a stimulating symposium on Newcastle-led research on lifespan psychology. Tanya Hanstock has run a well-attended and engaging workshop on Parent Child Interaction. Tony Kemp has offered continuous AV assistance on the lead to the conference and on the day and Stefania Paolini, as active member of the conference organising committee, has acted as a key conduit between HNE and UoN. 

The conference showcased the great talent of psychologists we have locally, demonstrated the varied areas of clinical excellence in practice, and stressed the importance of effective interaction between educators in the school, psychologists working in the community, and the needs of diverse clients.

This year’s event has been a nice demonstration of the psychologists from HNE Health service and The University of Newcastle working together. We look forward to newer opportunities in the future!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Cognitive Psychology Colloquium Thursday 4th December

When: Thursday 4th December, 12-1pm
Where: Keats Reading Room, Psychology Building

What: Gabriel Tilman's PhD Confirmation Seminar 


How Do Our Past Decisions Affect Our Present Decisions? – An Innovative Model

In simple perceptual experiments responses made on a trial are influenced by responses
made on previous trials: a phenomenon known as sequential effects. The dominant
explanation of sequential effects is the conflict monitoring theory (Botvinick, Braver,
Barch, Carter, & Cohen, 2001), which assumes individuals possesses an explicit conflict
monitoring mechanism. Here innovative models are proposed, which can account for
sequential effects without the need of a ’intelligent’ mechanism. The two models will be
adapted from the Linear Ballistic Accumulator (LBA) and the Drift Diffusion Model
(DDM). The models will be fit to data from the Flanker, Simon and Stroop tasks. The
capacity of both models to account for three prominent sequential effects – the conflict
frequency effect, sequential dependency, and post-error slowing – are compared.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

JUST PUBLISHED: Not Just Pineapple and Water: How do People Integrate Information from Multiple Sources?

When choosing a restaurant for a dinner with friends we need to combine information prior to decision, concerning the location, menu, and price range. Similarly, when crossing a busy road, we sometimes need to integrate information from multiple sources, such as horn sounds and the sight of approaching cars. A recent paper published by myself and colleagues does not tell you which restaurant to choose for your party or how to safely cross the road. Rather, it provides a means for evaluating how people combine information from various sources prior to decision, and implements these tools in the context of a simple laboratory experiment of visual detection.

We can refer to the above means as ‘Cognitive Modeling Tools,’ as they tell us something meaningful about the underlying model that subserves our cognitive system. We cannot observe the cognitive system directly; it is a hypothetical entity, and to be honest I have never seen it myself despite studying it for several years. Thus, our understanding of the kind of information-processing that happens in the brain comes from observing overt behavioural measures. Indeed, the current paper focuses on measures of response times and accuracy that anyone can observe and record.

Our response-time measures (based on the work of Jim Townsend and his colleagues) use the entire distribution and are thus quite powerful. Our measure of accuracy is a novel expansion of Shaw’s No Response Probability Contrast. For brevity, I often refer to this paper as the ‘NRPC paper’.

Cognitive modelling requires some level of mathematical understanding. Luckily, much of the analyses nowadays can be implemented as readily available and easy-to-use computer codes. Relevant Matlab codes are available for free on my website. So, if you are interested in questions of information integration, such as how to combine the wits and the looks of your date, or the taste of water with pineapple please consult the paper, or contact me directly at Ami.Eidels@newcastle.edu.au

For more information, please see the following paper:

Eidels, A., Townsend, J., Hughes, H., & Perry, L. (2014). Evaluating perceptual integration: Uniting response-time- and accuracy-based methodologies Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics DOI: 10.3758/s13414-014-0788-y

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Italian Prime Minister Meets School's and UON Staff at post-G20 function




The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met with UON staff at post-G20 function. The Italian PM met Sydney’s Italian-Australian representatives, business community and Italian researchers at Doltone House on Sunday evening. The Italian PM expressed an interest in UON staff’s personal experience of Australian academia.
 
In the photograph, Italian PM Matteo Renzi (on the left), Dr Andrea Coda (School of Health Sciences; second left), Dr Stefania Paolini (School of Psychology; second right) and Dr Anna Giacomini (School of Engineering; on the right). Also present at the event, Dr Michela Simone (School of Environmental and Life Sciences) and Anna Rosa Gualtieri (School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences), who attended the function as Italian Vice-Consulate of Italy in Newcastle.
This was the first ever visit of an Italian Prime Minister to Australia. His visit was well received by those in attendance, as he highlighted the historical and cultural links between Italy and Australia and how migration, research and business interchange have benefitted both countries and local cultures. He also talked about the need for Italy to change in order to attract foreign investment. 

For those interested in reading more, see: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/11/17/italian-prime-minister-visits-sydney-school