Wednesday, 31 August 2016

New paper examines the most recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) outcomes

The research performance from all Australian universities, in all fields of research, is evaluated by the Australian government in an exercise called the "Excellence in Research for Australia", or ERA. This ranks each field of research from one to five: for example, Cognitive Science at the University of Newcastle (Field of Research code 1702) was awarded a rank of five, meaning "well above world standard".

In the most recent ERA (2015) there was a new outcome produced for just a few fields of research in a few universities: "not ranked". While fewer than 1.5% of submissions were not ranked, these few outcomes surprised both the universities and the public, and generated substantial public debate. The debate focused on practices of gaming or ‘coding errors’ within university submissions as the reason for this outcome, laying the blame for the outcomes at the door of the universities and the submissions they made to the ERA process.

In a recent paper, Paul Henman (from UQ), Scott Brown, and Simon Dennis argue that the universities' submissions were only part of the explanation. With the support of statistical modelling, they showed that unrated outcomes are more likely to have arisen from particular practices within the ERA's ranking committees; particularly the committee which ranked the discipline of Psychology.

The full paper is available here:

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

UoN Psychology alumnus Sharna Jamadar awarded prestigious prize

Congratulations to SCAN Alumni, Dr. Sharna Jamadar, who will receive the prestigious SPR (Society for Psychophysiology Research) New Investigator Award at the annual SPR conference to be held in Minneapolis in Sept, 2016.  The title of her address is “The study of executive function: Past, present and future challenges.”  After completing her PhD under Frini’s supervision in 2010, Sharna moved to the United States to take up a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Living with Dr. Godfrey Pearlson (Yale University). Since 2012, she has held a Research Fellowship at Monash Biomedical Imaging and School of Psychological Sciences.  She was awarded a DECRA in 2015. Sharna is still very much involved with the SCAN group – she is a co-supervisor of current SCAN RHDs, collaborates with SCAN staff and worked with Bryan at Monash.

well done Sharna!

you can read more about Sharna's research intrests and achievements at:

Thursday, 25 August 2016

JUST PUBLISHED: A new paper by Newcastle’s PhD student uses arm-reaching trajectories to uncover complex cognitive processes

You probably spend so much time reading books, magazines, and Facebook posts, that reading has practically become automatic. Sometimes reading can get in the way of other things we might want to do. For instance, naming the print colour of the word GREEN will take longer than the word RED, if both are printed in red colour. This is the well-known Stroop effect (1935) named after John Ridley Stroop. 80 years later we are still trying to understand the source of the Stroop effect.

Recent technological advances in the measurement of arm-reaching trajectories may provide us with a unique window into the human mind. Gabriel Tillman and Ami Eidels from the Newcastle Cognition Lab teamed up with Matthew Finkbeiner from Macquarie University to design and conduct a motion-tracking Stroop task. Participants had to identify the colours of words by reaching out to response locations (see Figure). By analysing movement trajectories we found that interference from the word grows with the time available for processing, although people were instructed to ignore the words the whole time.

However, our results also suggested that in contrast to common belief we may not read each and every word that enters into our visual field, but rather only read some proportion of these words.  

Read more:

Friday, 19 August 2016

Congratulations to Dr Samineh Sanatkar

Congratulations to Dr Samineh Sanatkar on being awarded her PhD today. Samineh’s thesis is titled “When does independent problem-solving have negative psychological effects?” and it shows that independent and interdependent problem-solving are related to negative affect among people who are low and high in openness respectively. We wish you tons of positive affect on this great achievement Samineh.