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The multiple award-winning John Henry Brookes building opened in 2014, and provides a state of the art library and extensive study spaces. Psychology students have the use of a dedicated computer lab for the teaching of statistics and research methods. For project work we have dedicated rooms for running computer-based experiments and interviews. More specialist research can be undertaken in one of our six research labs.
Our EEG/ERP lab has a state of the art electroencephalogram
(EEG) recording facility for event related potential (ERP) research into the
neural bases of cognition. The lab has a galvanically isolated, sound attenuated
chamber for EEG recording and an adjacent control room. The lab is equipped
with a 64 channel EGI recording facility to study aspects of cognition in
healthy adults and clinical populations.
During a typical EEG recording, a sensor net with electrodes
soaked in electrolyte solution is placed over a participant’s head. These
electrodes record brain electrical responses in relation to any ongoing task or
event. The primary focus of the EEG lab is to understand how the brain
interprets motor information from visually presented objects and its role in
the guidance of attention. The EEG/ERP lab is also being used to investigate
the neural processes related to remembering and forgetting emotional events.
Our Visual Cognition Lab investigates basic
cognitive processes associated with visual perception, attention, and visual
short-term memory. Most of this work is implemented in the form of computerised
experimental tasks. The lab has specialist equipment for accurate stimulus
calibration on computer monitors and equipment such as stereo goggles for
rendering of stimuli in depth.
There are two main strands of our research. One concerns the
early mechanisms in the brain associated with object perception. This uses a
technique called visual masking - a stimulus or set of stimuli are presented
briefly on screen rapidly followed by a task-irrelevant stimulus called a mask.
Typically the mask renders the target imperceptible when the mask has certain
types of visual characteristics and when it occurs within a certain temporal
window with respect to the onset of the target. The conditions in which masking
does or does not occur is informative about the nature of the underlying brain
mechanisms associated with object processing.
A second strand of our work looks at how perceived visual
information is represented in a cognitive structure known as visual short-term
memory (VSTM). We have looked at how different forms of attention influence
VSTM. More recent research is looking at how VSTM-held information is accessed,
retrieved and compared with current perceptual input. Such questions concern
our abilities to make visual comparisons between objects and to notice changes
in a visual scene.
Our Writing Lab has a range of equipment to record and
measure handwriting and keyboarding behaviour.
Participants are asked to write with a special pen on paper
laid on top of a Wacom Intuos graphics tablet. This allows us to register the
xy coordinates of the written response over 100 times a second. We use
specialist software (both Ductus and Eye & Pen) for stimulus presentation
and to produce measures of handwriting duration and velocity as well as pen pressure.
The software allows for the re-play of handwriting production in real time so
that aspects of letter formation can be examined.
We also have two computers with keyboards and the specialist
software InputLog, which records every stroke made on the keyboard while
writing. This allows us to measure the speed of production of different words
and also the revisions made while writing.
The Lab also has an EyeLink 1000 eye-tracker, which can be
used with a chin or forehead rest to support the head or it can be used
remotely, without any head support. We use the software Experimental Builder to
prepare and conduct eye-tracking experiments.
The Writing Lab is mostly used to explore writing and
spelling processes in adults with and without language and motor difficulties.
Our BabyLab consists of a suite of rooms specially designed
to undertake a range of research with babies and young children and their
An observation room is furnished as a play area. Cameras and
a one-way mirror allows for natural activities (like mother-child interactions)
to be observed, recorded and later analysed.
Our eye-tracking room houses a special camera that uses
infrared light to create a reflection on the child’s eye. We use this to
compute exactly where the infant is looking while they sit in front of a
computer screen showing videos or sequences of pictures. Using this method, our
current work is investigating language development in infants.
Our head-turn preference room has a 3-sided booth with a
light in the centre of each side panel. While seated on their parent’s lap, an
infant is first attracted to a green light on the central panel. A red light on
either the left or right side then starts to blink and as the infant looks in
that direction she/he will hear a speech sound. The sound stops if the infant
looks away. By measuring the time spent listening to different speech samples,
we can discover whether the infant has a preference for one of them. Recent
work has explored infants’ preference for frequently-occurring versus
All of these methods are controlled from an adjacent control
room. This houses all the computers and gadgets that allow us to monitor,
record and analyse all the data collected during our experiments.