Sunday, 11 December 2016

JUST PUBLISHED: Haven’t You Heard! Vowel Perception Involves an Evidence Accumulation Process.

As children, part of learning English involved uttering the proverbial ah, eh, ee, oh, oo – the vowels, which along with consonants, form the building blocks of the English Language. Overtime, we learn to easily distinguished between different vowels in speech. To make this discrimination we need to process a wealth of continuous information, such as the pitch, the duration, or the loudness of the sound and then make a discrete choice about what vowel we have heard. Researchers have found it difficult to reconcile the fact that listeners make discrete choices based on continuous information.

Graduate student Gabriel Tillman and Professor Scott Brown from the University of Newcastle along with Titia Benders (Macquarie University) and Don van Ravenzwaaij (University of Groningen) developed a cognitive process model that describes how continuous acoustic information leads to discrete phoneme decisions. In a nutshell, the model posits that people sample evidence from the sounds and this evidence accumulates until a decision threshold is crossed, which triggers an overt response.

The model accounted for choice and response time data from an experiment where Dutch listeners discriminated between Dutch vowels. With the model, the researchers could examine unobserved processes involved in the perception of Dutch vowels. They found that sound frequency information contributes more to the perception of vowels than duration information, that frequency was more important for some of the Dutch vowels than others, and that longer durations did not delay when participants started using information from the sound.

Read more about this study here:

Friday, 2 December 2016

Health and Clinical Psychology Research Group Seminar

START Caring for Carers: A psychological intervention for carers of people with dementia

Dr Michelle Kelly

When: Wednesday 7th December 12 noon
Where: Keats Room (AVLG17) - Psychology Building, Callaghan Campus (video to Ourimbah Science Offices)

Abstract: There are an estimated 1.2 million people involved in the care of a person with dementia and 7% of all Australians identify as being a carer for family or friends suffering from dementia. Whilst there are many challenges that carers face, increasing dependence and challenging behaviours associated with dementia are unquestionably difficult. Thus, the development of an effective intervention to support carers and optimise their capacity and opportunity to care is vital. Not only may this lead to an improvement in quality of life for the carer, but also for the person with dementia. This presentation will cover the development of a feasibility and acceptability study of an 8-session individualised psychological intervention for carers of people with dementia. The proposed study will take place within the University of Newcastle Psychology Clinics with interventions being delivered by students on placement. The research team hopes to receive feedback on the study with regards to study design but moreso, the challenges and ethical considerations of running such a project within a student training facility.

Bio: Dr Michelle Kelly is a Clinical Psychologist and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology. Her research focus is on social functioning in clinical groups including dementia and traumatic brain injury. Michelle’s research also covers other areas of care in dementia such as the management of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and the effects of these on carers.