Thursday, 30 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: 'How the brain makes sense of the world'

The School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle is proud to host a research seminar by Dr Kara Federmier

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept 5, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room ( video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-201 )

No RSVP required, light refreshments will be provided


Kara D. Federmeier received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois and a full-time faculty member at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, where she leads the Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative and heads the Cognition and Brain Lab.  She is also currently serving as the President of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. Her research examines meaning comprehension and memory using human electrophysiological techniques, in combination with behavioral, eyetracking, and other functional imaging and psychophysiological methods.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Research Student Presents at Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam

Duy Le, a Master of Philosophy student at the School of Psychology under the supervision of A/Profs Ross Wilkinson and Mark Rubin, recently attended and presented at the sixth conference on school psychology in Vietnam. 

The conference, titled “The Role of School Psychology in Promoting Wellbeing of Students and Families”, was co-organised by The Consortium to Advance School Psychology – International (CASP-I) and Hanoi National University of Education. The conference’s objective was to bring together psychologists and related stakeholders to advance the profession and services of school psychology to promote the well-being of students and their families. In two days (August 1 – 2, 2018), the conference attracted around 300 American and Vietnamese psychological researchers and practitioners, policy makers, university managers and lecturers, psychological students, parents, and school managers and teachers from different education sectors.

At the conference Duy presented his paper, co-authored by A/Prof Ross Wilkinson, titled “Students’ mental health during university transition across the cultures: An attachment perspective”. The presentation focused on an attachment theory perspective of mental health issues of students during their transition to university. Up to now, studies on attachment in Vietnam have been focused on the infant – mother relationship rather than adult (including university students) attachment. With his presentation, Duy hoped to popularise the concept of adolescent and adult attachment and promote the use of this concept among school psychologists and researchers in Vietnam.

Duy began his research program this year with a cross-cultural project looking at the mental health, attachment and social integration of first-year university students in Australia and Vietnam. With the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship, this former university lecturer and psychological counsellor hopes to be successful with his studies before returning to Vietnam and using his new knowledge and experience to develop a support program for university students in Ho Chi Minh City.

Photo: Duy Le (blue shirt) and his former lecturers at the conference

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminar: Music and Emotions

The School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle is proud to host a research seminar by Dr Genevieve Dingle.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 22, 12-1pm

WHERE: Keats room ( video conference to Ourimbah EXSA-201 )

No RSVP required, light refreshments will be provided

WHAT: seminar on "Music and Emotions across the Lifespan"


Australian household surveys have shown that music is among the top strategies people use to regulate negative emotions; and the number one strategy among young adults. It is interesting therefore that so little is known about the link between music, emotions, and emotion regulation in various age groups. In this seminar I will present several studies from our lab on emotion perception and emotional response to music and other sound stimuli in children, young adults, and older adults. I will also describe the Tuned In music emotion regulation program, and some results from school and community samples. This seminar is likely to interest academics in the emotion, developmental and clinical psychology disciplines.

Dr Genevieve Dingle

Monday, 13 August 2018

COPE: The ‘Choose your Own Parenting Experience’ Study

Being a new parent can be difficult. Psychoeducation has been shown to significantly benefit parents in the transition to parenthood. 

Researcher from the FIND lab (Family Interactions & Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) at the University of Newcastle investigate the effects of game-based learning using an interactive m-health game. M-health is the use of mobile phones in health-based communication and games. The ‘Choose Your Own Parenting Experience’ is a fun, interactive, game-based experience modelled on the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ format designed to be played on your mobile phone. It is designed to equip parents with parenting tips and knowledge to help them on their parenting journey. 

This week, Miranda Cashin – Honours student at the Ourimbah campus under the supervision of Dr Linda Campbell – talked about her Honours research on ABC central Coast (7/8/2018) and 2NURFM (8/8/2018). Miranda did a fantastic interview that we would like to share with you. 
If you would like listen to it, or to know more about the research and perhaps participate – please go to the lab's website

The study is the brain child of PhD candidate, Jaime Wroe – a graduate from our School.

Well done Miranda (left) and Jaime (right) !  

Friday, 10 August 2018

CBMHR Early Career Researcher conference

PhD Students and Postdocs from the School of Psychology recently presented talks and posters as part of the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health’s (CBMHR) annual Early Career Researcher (ECR) conference. The conference brings together ECRs working in preclinical neurobiology, psychological processes, and mental health across several different schools at the University of Newcastle. Our psychology ECRs presented on topics across cognitive, clinical, social, and biological psychology. We’d like to thank all the psychology presenters, who gave excellent and engaging talks and posters: Alexander Thorpe, Mattsen Yeark, Jade Goodman, Paul Garrett, Sharon Hollins, Ashlea Rendell, Gavin Cooper, Jon-Paul Cavallaro, Max Katz-Barber, and Yasser Saeedian,

We’d also like to congratulate the prize-winners from the School of Psychology!
Jade Goodman won Best Talk for her work with Associate Professor Kerry Chalmers and Dr Emily Freeman on the associations between childhood trauma and working memory ability in adulthood.

Alexander Thorpe was the runner-up for Best Talk for his work with Dr Keith Nesbitt, Associate Professor Ami Eidels, and Conjoint Associate Professor Rachel Heath on measuring workload capacity with a continuous task.

Jon-Paul Cavallaro won Best Poster for his work with Professor Scott Brown and Dr Guy Hawkins on consumer choices under time pressure.

Thanks to everybody who was involved, and we hope to see you next year!

Elise Kalokerinos, Sally Hunt, and Guy Hawkins
Psychology Early Career Researcher Representatives on the Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research Committee

Monday, 6 August 2018

School of Psychology research seminars for the coming term (2018 II)

This semester we are running a series of school-wide research seminars every second Wednesday, 12-1pm, starting from Week 2 - 8th August.

Guest speakers and topics:

·       Kristen Pammer              Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

·       Genevieve Dingle            Music and emotions across the lifespan

·       Kara Fedemeier               Finding meaning in time: what electrophysiology reveals about how the brain makes sense of the world

·       Mohsen Zamani              Theoretical modelling of social networks to capture social influence/ persuasion processes  

·       ECR Committee              Introducing the Psychology ECR’s

·       Cognitive Group             Why would people use Bayes instead of NHST? And How-to! With demonstrations and workshop

The first talk is by our very own Head of School, Prof Kristen Pammer:

Image result for kristeen pammer

Speaker: Kristen Pammer
Where:  Keats Room AVLG-17 and video conference to Ourimbah Science offices
When: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Attention, distraction and driving in the loop

Safe driving is predicated on attending to objects that are important in the environment, but also filtering out what is unimportant. Failing to detect critical objects when driving are estimated to constitute approximately 5% of all crashes, and around 9% of crashes involving serious injury. Looked-but-failed-to-see crashes describe car crashes in which drivers are apparently looking directly at an unexpected object on the road yet report failing to see it, resulting in a collision. A cognitive mechanism that explains looked-but-failed-to-see crashes is inattentional blindness (IB). IB is a phenomenon that occurs when observers fail to notice an unexpected, though clearly visible object in their visual field when their attention is engaged elsewhere. We have designed a unique driving-related IB task to explore attentional allocation to critical objects when driving, such as hazards and motorcycles, in different cohorts of drivers. In this, we have demonstrated differential allocation of attention, and this is important for our understanding of attention and situation awareness in driving.  Moreover, the complexity and familiarity of the driving task impacts situation awareness, such that our capacity for identifying changes in the driving scene deteriorates when the task of driving requires less attention – such as in familiar or unvarying driving environments. To address this, we propose that some level of distraction can optimise attentional capture of unexpected stimuli by disrupting the attentional set for driving, and forcing the observer to distribute their attention more broadly. This contradicts the common understanding of distraction in driving, where distraction refers to an additional stimulus that draws attention away from the primary task of driving. Yet we have demonstrated that that task-irrelevant distraction - regardless of modality - has the potential to facilitate conscious processing of unexpected stimuli. This implies an optimal level of distraction may be required for optimal attentional engagement. This is important in the context of increasing automation in driving, where drivers are increasingly ‘out of the loop’ and disengaged from the driving situation. Evidence of attentional engagement is crucial to our ability to allocate attention in a take-over scenario.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Congratulations Dr Sally Hunt, new convenor of the UoN Master of Professional Psychology program

It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr Sally Hunt will be joining us as the new convenor of the Master of Professional Psychology.

Sally completed her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology in 2003 and spent the first part of her career developing a solid foundation in clinical psychology by working in inpatient and outpatient mental health services and delivering psychological interventions in competitively funded randomised controlled trials. Her clinical focus has been on child and adolescent mental health, and comorbidly occurring conditions including affective disorders, psychosis, personality disorders, and alcohol/other drug use problems. She has experience in the use of neuropsychological assessment, cognitive behaviour therapy, motivational interviewing and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques among these populations.

In 2015 Sally completed her PhD at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Professor Amanda Baker and Emeritus Professor Pat Michie. Sally’s PhD research examined the neuropsychological profiles of people presenting with comorbid depression and alcohol use disorders. At the University of New South Wales, her post-doctoral research focus has been the development, evaluation and dissemination of computer- and internet-delivered treatments for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/other drug use problems. Current projects include development of the eCliPSE online portal to facilitate wider access to evidence-based interventions for comorbidly occurring mental health and substance use problems in conjunction with the NSW Ministry of Health. Sally also has research interests in the mental health and wellbeing of mothers and is currently developing an e-Health intervention to address the closing gender gap in hazardous alcohol use.

Sally has extensive experience in clinical supervision, as a Board Approved Supervisor of Intern Psychologists, Registered Psychologists and Clinical Psychology Registrars. In recent years Sally was a clinical supervisor in the University of Newcastle Psychology Clinic, for Carers NSW, and in private practice.

Sally will be starting on Monday the 6th of August, and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that it is going to be a great pleasure working with her to set up our new program.

Kindest regards