Monday, 22 April 2013

Good News

The first three months of the year have flown by. Lots of exciting things have been happening in the School both research wise and for students.
Here is an overview of some of the achievements so far.

Student News

Rhiannon Hampton, Erin Campbell, Mathew Marchant, Owen Lello and Julia Dray

Graduation was held on 12 April and saw more than 100 graduates attend the ceremony for the School of Psychology program. The following students were winners of school prizes or university or faculty medals.

Rhiannon Hampton received the University medal, a faculty medal and the APS Prize for best performance in 4th year

Faculty medallists were Erin Campbell, Jonathon Love, Kristen McCarter, Kalyce Howard, Sarah McPhail, Anna Tuyl.

School prizewinners were
The Invinskis Prize for 3rd year - Mathew Marchant
The J A Keats Prize for Quantitative or Cognitive Psychology thesis in 4th year  - Julia Dray
The W H Ward Prize –thesis in Applied Psychology – Undergraduate winner Jane Goodwin and Postgraduate winner – Michelle Condon
The Basic Science Prize for a Pure Science thesis – Erin Campbell
The Ros Gribble Prize in Clinical Psychology – Owen Lello

Jane Wheatley has now completed her Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology, and Joanne Wirrell has completed her Professional Doctorate in Clinical Pscychology

Elise Mansfield and Guy Hawkins have submitted their PhD thesis for examination and Rickie-Leigh Elliot has submitted her thesis for the Doctor of Clinical Psychology.

Congratulations everyone!

Staff News

 Our academics to have been busy with numerous publication and other achievements. These include:

Media and Community 

Keith Harris gave the opening talk to start off the very successful Seascape & Beyond Art Exhibition Fundraiser at Merewether Surf Life Saving Club. 

Write-up of high impact journal article with Stefania Paolini and Mark Rubin on the Society for Personality and Social Psychology website: PSP Connections. (10/03/13). Do bad interracial interactions shape our attitudes more than good interracial interactions? Retrieved from

Port Waratah Coal Services Grant
Recipient - Dr Sally McFadden. Sceral and Retinal Mechanisms Underlying Regional Changes in Myopia.
This research will determine how important retinal signals and sclera strength are in causing myopia and develop new treatments for myopia.

International Profile

Stefania Paolini has been nominated to be chair of the internationalization committee of the (American-led) Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (co-chair with Dr D. Livert, Penn State University) for the period 2013-2015. SPSSI is an association of approximately 3,000 psychologists, allied scientists, and others, who are interested in the application of research on the psychological aspects of important social issues to public policy solutions.

Lauren Harms, Postdoctoral Fellow, has been awarded an Australia Israel Research Exchange Neuroscience Fellowship to spend time in Professor Ina Weiner's lab in the School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University.  Prof Weiner is a world authority on animal models of psychopathology, and in particular neurodevelopmental models of schizophrenia, based on a well known risk factor, namely, maternal infection.  Lauren is working on similar models in Deb Hodgson's animal lab and hopes to learn about Prof Weiner's methods for assessing latent inhibition in rodents - latent inhibition is impaired in schizophrenia.

Refereed Journal Articles

Published Articles 
Walmsley, B. & McCormack, L. (2013). The dance of communication: Retaining family membership despite severe non-speech dementia. Dementia. Published online before print March 20, 2013,

McCormack, L. & Sly, R. (2013). Distress and Growth: The subjective ‘lived’ experiences of being the child of a Vietnam veteran. Traumatology.

McCormack, L. & Joseph, S. (2012). Psychological distress and growth in humanitarian aid personnel: Making meaning of occupational exposure to war and genocide.  Community, Work and Family, 1-17.

Sinderberry, B., Brown, S.D., Hammond, P., Stevens, A.F., Schall, U., Murphy, D.G., Murphy, K.C. & Campbell, L. (2013) Subtypes in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome associated with behaviour and neurofacial morphology. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(1), 116-125. 

Turner, B., Forstmann, B., Wagenmakers, E.-J., Brown, S.D., Sederberg, S. & Steyvers, M. (2013) A Bayesian Framework for Simultaneously Modeling Neural and Behavioral Data. Neuroimage 

Mobini, S., Mackintosh, B., & Reynolds, S. (2013). Clinical Implications of Interpretation Bias in Social Anxiety: An integrative literature review. Cognitive  Therapy and Research. 37, 173-182.

Matthews, N., Todd, J., Mannion, D., Finnigan, S., Catts, S., & Michie, P.T. (in press) Impaired processing of binaural temporal cues to auditory scene analysis in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research (

 Guez D. (2013). A common pesticide decreases foraging success and survival in honey bees: questioning the ecological relevance. Frontiers in Physiology, 4:37.

In Press Articles 

Hawkins, G. E., Rae, B., Nesbitt, K. V., & Brown, S. D. (in press) Game-like features might not improve data. Behavior Research Methods 

Trueblood, J., Brown, S.D., Heathcote, A. & Busemeyer, J. (in press) Not just for consumers: Context effects are fundamental to decision-making. Psychological Science 

Matzke, D., Dolan, C.V., Logan, G.D., Brown, S.D., & Wagenmakers, E.-J. (in press) Bayesian parametric estimation of stop-signal reaction time distributions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General

Turner, B., Sederberg, P., Brown, S.D., & Steyvers, M. (in press) A note on efficiently sampling from distributions with correlated dimensions. Psychological Methods 

Harris, K. M., McLean, J. P., & Sheffield, J. (in press). Suicidal and online: How do online behaviors inform us of this high-risk population? Death Studies.

Harris, K. M. (in press). Sexuality and suicidality: Matched-pairs analyses reveal unique characteristics in non-heterosexual suicidal behaviors. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Rubin, M. (in press, accepted 06/02/13). “It wasn’t my idea to come here!”: Ownership of the idea to immigrate as a function of gender, age, and culture. International Journal of Intercultural Relations. [Journal ranked in top third of sociology journals]

Wolfenden L, McKeough  A, Bowman J, Paolini S, Francis L, Wye P, & Puhl, R. (2013, accepted 18/04/13). An experimental investigation of parents and their children’s social interaction intentions toward obese children. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health [2-yrIF 1.28, ranked 66/115 (ISI middle tier) among pediatrics journals]

Sharip, S, Michie, P, Schall, U, Drysdale, K, Case, V, Sanakarayan, A, Sidi, H, Das, S. Generalization of cognitive training in an Australian sample of schizophrenia patients. Comprehensive Psychiatry (accepted 19 March, 2013).  

Cooper, RJ., Atkinson, RJ., Clark, RA, Michie, PT. Event-related potentials reveal modelling of auditory repetition in the brain.  International Journal of Psychophysiology (accepted 11 Feb, 2013)

Prowse, E., Bore, M., & Dyer, S. (In Press). Eating Disorder Symptomatology and Mindfulness: are they related and what is their influence on Body Image, Identity, Personality and Quality of Life? Clinical Psychologist.
Book Chapters  
McCormack, L. (2012).  Humanitarian Missions. Encyclopedia of Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Guide, SAGE, New York 20-904 (First Edition/Ed: Charles Figley). 

McCormack, L. (2012).  Genocide. Encyclopedia of Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Guide, SAGE, New York 20-904 (First Edition/Ed: Charles Figley).

McCormack, L. (2012).  Governments and NGOs. Encyclopedia of Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Guide, SAGE, New York 20-904 (First Edition/Ed: Charles Figley).

McCormack, L. (2012).  Traumatized Entertainers. Encyclopedia of Trauma: An Interdisciplinary Guide, SAGE, New York 20-904 (First Edition/Ed: Charles Figley).

Broyd, SJ, Greenwood, L-M, Croft, RJ, Dalecki, A, Todd, J, Michie, PT, Johnstone, SJ and Solowij, N.  Chronic effects of cannabis on sensory gating. International Journal of Psychophysiology (accepted 10 April, 2013)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Spotlight on Research: What's in (Half) a Face?

In the School of Psychology's new Spotlight on Research section, we focus on recent research conducted by Dr Darren Burke at our Ourimbah campus (pictured partly and wholly below!): 


When we recognise someone, we integrate information from across their face into a perceptual whole, and do so using a specialised brain region. Recognising other kinds of objects does not engage such specific brain areas, and is achieved in a much more parts-based way.

In a recent review of the literature, we (Burke & Sulikowski, 2013) investigated how this face-specific mode of perception may have evolved by examining the evidence for face-based holistic processing in other species. A surprisingly wide variety of other animals can recognise each other from their “face”, but for most of these there is either evidence that they don’t do this “holistically” (dogs are an example) or insufficient evidence to claim that they do (typically because the experiments are poorly designed).

There is good evidence that some species of monkey are as affected by turning the face upside down as humans are (which is one index of holistic processing), and one species of monkey (Rhesus macaques) also show evidence of the “composite effect”. The composite effect refers to the fact that people find it difficult to recognise the top half of a face if it is shown lined up with the bottom half of a different face, because we can’t help integrating the two halves into a new whole. People have trouble recognising other primate faces when they are upside down, but only show the composite effect for human faces.

We also suggested that the original evolutionary origin of special holistic face processing might not be to recognise who’s who. There are actually lots of other sources of evolutionary important information in faces that require holistic integration. For example, detecting symmetry, and masculinity/femininity is important for mate-choice decisions, and subtle variations in facial configurations underpin many non-verbal communicative signals.

For more information about this work, please see the following journal article:

Burke, D., & Sulikowski, D. (2013). The Evolution of Holistic Processing of Faces Frontiers in Psychology, 4 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00011

or contact Dr Darren Burke at

Friday, 5 April 2013

Colloquium Presentation: Dr. Vinh Nguyen, on how we perceive faces.

The School of Psychology is proudly hosting a talk by:

Dr. Vinh Nguyen
Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld.

Title: Fusing concurrent EEG-fMRI data: Application to correlation and connectivity during face perception

Date: Thursday 11th April 2013, 12-1pm in Keats Reading Room (AVLG17) (video streaming to AV3 in the Ourimbah library)
If you would like to meet with Dr. Nguyen, please contact A/Prof Frini Karayanidis (

Abstract: Despite the wealth of research on face perception, the interactions between core regions in the face-sensitive network of the visual cortex are not well understood. In particular, the link between neural activity measured by fMRI and EEG is not well established. I will present studies using a trial-by-trial correlation and dynamic causal modelling (DCM) as a data fusion approach to integrate concurrently acquired EEG and fMRI signals during the perception of faces. First, we introduce a method for single-trial estimation of N170 amplitudes and correlation of the trial-by-trial variation in N170 neural responses with fMRI. For upright faces, BOLD responses in the right superior temporal sulcus (STS) were negatively correlated with N170 amplitudes. For inverted faces, a medial region of the medial fusiform gyrus (mFG) was positively correlated with N170 amplitudes. Second, the DCM analysis suggests that the occipital face area (OFA) acted as a central gatekeeper directing visual information to the superior temporal sulcus, the fusiform face area (FFA) and to the mFG. The connection from the OFA and the STS was enhanced on trials in which N170 amplitudes to upright faces were large. In contrast, the connection from the OFA to the mFG was enhanced for inverted faces, and the enhancement was even stronger in trials in which the N170 amplitudes were small. The FFA, on the other hand, provides feedback connection to the OFA, and integrates connection from both the OFA and STS for holistic face processing. Together, these results suggest that trial-by-trial variation in neural activity at around 170 ms, reflected in the N170 component, reflects the relative engagement of the OFA to STS/FFA network over the OFA to mFG object processing network for face perception

Bio: Vinh is a PhD student of the Cunnington lab at the Queensland Brain Institute. Before joining QBI, Vinh did his computer science undergraduate degree at the University of Newcastle from 2004 to 2008. During his undergraduate program, Vinh worked as a research assistant for the ASRB project, then did his Honours project with A/Prof Frans Henskens on the development of an automatic MRI segmentation method. He graduated the computer science degree with first class honours and won a University medal. Vinh moved QBI in 2009 to pursue his PhD under the supervision of A/Prof Ross Cunnington and Prof Michael Breakspear. His project is looking at combining EEG and fMRI techniques to correlate the high temporal information of EEG signals with high spatial resolution of fMRI signals.