Monday, 16 December 2013

PRESENTATION: The neuroscience of attention, by Dr. Søren Kyllingsbæk (Copenhagen). Thursday 19th December 10:30am-11:30am

The School of Psychology is proudly hosting a talk by Dr. Søren Kyllingsbæk, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen.  If you're interested in meeting with Dr. Kyllingsbæk while he visits Newcastle, please email Dr. Ami Eidels (

TITLE: A Neural Theory of Visual Attention

WHERE: Keats Reading room (Aviation Building, AVLG17).

WHEN: Thursday 19th December 2013, 10:30am-11:30am.

ABSTRACT: The neural theory of visual attention (NTVA) developed by Bundesen, Habekost, and Kyllingsbæk (2005) is a neural interpretation of Bundesen’s (1990) theory of visual attention (TVA). The theory accounts both for a wide range of attentional effects in human performance (reaction times and error rates) and for a wide range of effects observed in firing rates of single cells in the primate visual system. NTVA provides a mathematical framework to unify the two fields of research—formulas bridging cognition and neurophysiology. I will present NTVA and related new theoretical ideas regarding visual encoding and visual short-term memory.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

JUST PUBLISHED: Personal Qualities Assessment Across Cultures

Myself (Miles Bore), Don Munro and David Powis have spent the last 15 years developing and testing personality questionnaires and ability tests for use in the selection of medical students. While much of the focus of our research has been the use of these tests in Australia and the UK, we have also had opportunities to trial the tests in countries where English is not the first language such as Sweden, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Nepal and Fiji. Recently we were approached by Saharnaz Nedjat from Tehran University of Medical Sciences asking if we would be interested in running the Personal Qualities Assessment tests with her in Iran. We leapt at the chance of course!

We emailed three tests to Tehran for translation into Persian: the Mental Agility Test (a 48-item high powered IQ test), the Mojac Moral Orientation Scale and our Self-Appraisal Inventory which measures the personality traits of Involvement (being empathic, confident with others and not aloof or narcissistic), Resilience (being emotionally stable and not neurotic) and Self-Control (being conscientious and not disorderly). The tests were then back-translated into English so we could check that all 240 questions in the battery, not to mention the instructions for each test, had maintained their original meaning: quite a detailed job! After checking back and forth with Saharnez on a handful of questions that were proving difficult to translate we finally had it all sorted. The real test of this was whether the tests actually worked when given to applicants in Tehran.

The tests were administered to a cohort of medical students at Tehran and the findings reported in a recently published article for the journal Medical Teacher. While the article presents only basic analysis (mean differences between students who entered directly from secondary education compared to those who entered with a tertiary degree) it is the finding that the tests performed reliably when translated into Persian that pleased us most. More detail on that and other cross-cultural comparisons are for another paper.

For more details, please see the following journal article:
Nedjat, S., Bore, M., Majdzadeh, R., Rashidian, A., Munro, D., Powis, D., Karbakhsh, M., & Keshavarz, H. (2013). Comparing the cognitive, personality and moral characteristics of high school and graduate medical entrants to the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran Medical Teacher, 35 (12), 1632-1637 DOI: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.826791

Further information can be found at the Personal Qualities Assessment website: