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Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience Research Group

The Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience Research Group in the Department of Psychology researches lower- and higher-level cognition, as well as applied topics including:

  • Attention
  • Embodied cognition
  • Explicit and implicit memory
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Cognitive ageing
  • Fear acquisition
  • Temporal expectancy
  • Mental imagery and creativity
  • Typical and atypical language and reading
  • Social cognition
  • Risk perception
  • Uncertainty communication

Our research employs a wide range of methods from experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, psychophysics,  modelling and psychometrics. Within this research group, we have the Jones,Silas & Ward Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and the Music Cognition and Communication Lab. We have used some of our work to solve problems in the clinical domain, criminal justice system, and defence and security sector.

Equipment and facilities

We use a range of equipment and have access to state of the art facilities dedicated to our research. Our research includes the use of several high-end EEG systems (e.g. 128 electrode BioSemi, 64 electrode ActiChamp, Wireless LiveAmp, R-Nets, BioRadio) as well as both magnetic and electrical brain stimulation such as transcranial Alternating/Direct Current Stimulation (tACS/tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Moreover, we have several eye-trackers (Tobii) used in both adult and infant research. Our psychophysiology laboratory has a PowerLab system.

Available resources

Cognitive Psychology researchers at Middlesex have considerable resources available to them, including:

  • EDA & Biofeedback monitoring
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Eye-tracking
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Cardio-respiratory monitoring for Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia (part of the ViVo Sense package)
  • Research group members

  • Dr Nicky Brunswick

    Associate Professor in Neuropsychology

    Dr Brunswick's research focuses on the relationship between language, literacy, musical and artistic ability in children and adults, with a particular focus on typical reading development and developmental dyslexia. Her recent focus has been on creativity and self-perception in dyslexic readers, and how this influences subject studied at university and future career aspirations. Dr Brunswick is chair of the Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience Research Group and she is on the editorial boards of the journals Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal.

    Read Dr Brunswick's full profile

  • Dr Paul de Mornay Davies

    Senior Lecturer in Neuropsychology

    Dr de Mornay Davies' research focuses on simulating symptoms of aphasia in unimpaired adults using a variety of behavioural methods designed to induce cognitive overload. In addition, he is also interested in non-linguistic aspects of cognition that impact language processing.

    Read Dr de Mornay Davies' full profile

  • Professor Mandeep Dhami

    Professor in Decision Psychology

    Professor Dhami's research focuses on human judgement and decision-making, risk perception and risk taking, and understanding and communicating uncertainty. She has examined these issues extensively in the criminal justice and defence and security domains. Professor Dhami is co-editor of Judgement and Decision Making, the official journal of the Society for Judgement and Decision Making as well as the European Association for Decision Making.

    Read Professor Dhami's full profile

  • Dr Fabia Franco

    Associate Professor in Psychology

    Dr Franco is interested in developmental science and music psychology. Her recent research has focused on the two most intense phases of change in human life: infancy and older age. Her work is mostly experimental. Dr Franco coordinates the Music Cognition & Communication Lab.

    Read Dr Franco's full profile

  • Dr Alexander Jones

    Senior Lecturer in Psychology

    Dr Jones' research interests include attention, prediction, action, and timing, and using cognitive neuroscience techniques to investigate how the brain and behaviour relate. His recent focus has been on exploring how we select and attend to information presented to our senses. In particular, how we process and attend to the sense of touch and how neural oscillations entrain to rhythmic events. Dr Jones also co-leads the Silas & Ward lab.

    Read Dr Jones' full profile

  • Dr Gemma Reynolds

    Senior Lecturer in Psychology

    Dr Reynolds' research explores the development of emotions such as fear, anxiety and disgust during childhood, in particular the cognitive mechanisms and mediating factors associated with the development of these emotions.

    Read Dr Reynolds' full profile

  • Dr Yvan Russell

    Senior Lecturer in Psychology

    As an interdisciplinary researcher, Dr Russell publishes on diverse topics surrounding his main research interest on the evolution of expert cognition and social behaviour. His research covers both humans and animals. He has studied the social behaviour of chimpanzees and other great apes in captivity, and he has conducted laboratory-based studies on aspects of human cognition.

    Read Dr Russell's full profile

  • Dr Jon Silas

    Senior Lecturer in Psychology

    Dr Silas' research is in the field of cognitive neuroscience. His interests are varied but usually involved in understanding the interaction between neural mechanisms and cognitive processes involved in perception, cognition and social interactions. He has expertise in using a variety of neuro-scientific methods including; EEG, TMS, tDCS and fMRI and has an interest in these methods in and among themselves. He also has a specific interest in the biological and cognitive mechanisms involved in olfactory processing.Dr Silas co-leads the Jones, Silas & Ward Lab

    Read Dr Silas's full profile

  • Dr Letitia Slabu

    Senior Lecturer in Psychology

    Dr Slabu's research interests revolve around trying to understand the precursors and outcomes of state authenticity, and the cognitive mechanisms underlying the impact of social power on people’s feelings, perceptions and actions.

    Read Dr Slabu's full profile

Dr Emma Ward

Associate Professor in Psychology

Dr Ward's research focuses on the relationship between different expressions of memory and how they are affected by ageing. She is also interested in incidental vs intentional memory, and how memory encoding and retrieval are affected by attention, depth of processing, context, rhythm, and prediction. Dr Ward co-leads the Jones, Silas & Ward Lab.

Read Dr Ward's full profile

Current Research Associate, Research Assistant and Doctoral Student Members

  Maryam Al Abdullah
PhD student supervised by Dr Emma Ward
Effects of ageing and processing style on explicit and implicit memory
  Wayne Anderson
Research Assistant and part-time PhD student working with Dr Alex Jones and Dr Jon Silas
Exploring the role of neural entertainment in attention processes. Funded by the BIAL Foundation
  Dr Ian Belton
British Academy of Management postdoctoral researcher
Working with Professor Mandeep Dhami on a project entitled "The effect of scenario planning on individuals' perception of uncertain futures".
  Mahen Deonaran
PhD student under the supervision of Professor Mandeep Dhami and Dr Yvan Russell
Research focusing on expert evidence in criminal courts
  Tatiana Sobolewska
PhD student working with Dr Fabia Franco
Investigating infant perception of musical affect cues (dissonance) in cross-modal tasks using eye-tracking and online methods
  Dr Anthony Mangiacotti
Post-doctoral researcher 
The MusiCare project funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust (PI Dr F Franco), investigating the benefits of music therapy in care-homes and healthy older adults. Started November 2020
  Maria Chifa
MSc by Research student working with Dr Fabia Franco 
The relationship between informal musical interaction in the home environment and early language development in pre-term infants and toddlers.
  Lola Zao-Sanders
PhD student working with Dr Jon Silas and Dr Alex Jones
Exploring the role of embodied cognition in perspective taking
  Dr Tamara Fedotiuk Researcher at Risk Fellow (MCCLab)  Music-based interventions to support wellbeing and parenting in displaced dyads (with Fabia Franco)

Research student applications and placements

We are always keen to attract PhD students, MSc by Research Students, and Research Assistants, so if you’d like an opportunity to come and work with us to gain some research experience, please email one of us directly according to our areas of expertise.

  • Our recent and current projects

The effect of scenario planning on individuals’ perceptions of uncertain futures

A British Academy of Management (BAM) funded project (Professor Mandeep Dhami, Co-I) that aimed to identify psychological mechanisms inducing or inhibiting scenario planning’s perspective-broadening effect, in order to develop interventions that maximise perspective-broadening and minimise perspective-narrowing.

Are alpha oscillations generated by the somatosensory cortex involved in tactile attention?

A registered report using transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS). This is an ongoing preregistered study, see more details.

Does rhythm enhance recognition memory?

Project funded by the BIAL Foundation (Emma Ward, Alexander Jones, Jon Silas). As part of an ongoing programme of research on the effects of rhythm and temporal expectation on memory, this project investigated how the rhythmic presentation of stimuli affects memory formation using behavioural and EEG measures. See resulting publications here and here.

Effects of ageing and processing style on explicit and implicit memory

Project funded by the Leverhulme Trust (Emma Ward). This research aimed to understand age-related changes in explicit (e.g., recognition) and implicit (e.g., repetition priming) forms of memory, and clarify interactions with processing style and different demands involved at memory encoding and retrieval. See resulting Registered Report in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology here

Do musical training and practise support reading? A study of professional dancers and musicians

Project funded by the Society of Education and Music Psychology Research (Nicky Brunswick and Fabia Franco). This ongoing research project is exploring the relationship between musicality and reading ability in professional ballet dancers and musicians.

MusiCare – Protecting cognitive functions and wellbeing using music therapy and innovative technology with an ageing population

Project funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust (PI Dr F Franco) to study the effect of different types of music therapy on cognitive functions and biomarkers in people aged 65+, with an international multidisciplinary team also including colleagues at Middlesex (Anthony Mangiacotti and Emma Ward, Psychology, and Eris Chinellato, Design Engineering and Maths).

Music4DisplacedDyads: Music therapy intervention to support wellbeing and parenting in Ukrainian refugee caregivers and toddlers

Project funded by SEMPRE (PI Dr F Franco) to study mental health, cognitive function, parenting and social measures pre/post a short music therapy intervention. In collaboration with colleagues at Middlesex Dr L Slabu (Psychology), Dr F Palermo (Music), Dr T Fedotiuk (Psychology), SWU Dr E Coombes and Buckingham New University, Dr T McGorrian. Other collaborators: Dr A Mangiacotti and T Sobolewska (MCCLab).

Additional projects

  • Decision Science of intelligence analysis (Lead: Prof Dhami)
  • Temporal and spatial attention in touch (EEG/ERP) (Lead: Dr Jones)
  • Ageing and implicit memory: A benefit of distraction? (Lead: Dr Ward)

Participate in research

If you wish to participate in any of our ongoing or upcoming research then please contact any member of staff directly.

  • Recent group outputs

    • 2023

      Grossman, Igor, Rotella, Amanda, Hutcherson, Cendri A., Sharpinskyi, Konstantyn, Varnum, Michael E. W., Achter, Sebastian, Dhami, Mandeep K. and Forecasting Collaborative, The (2023). Insights into accuracy of social scientists' forecasts of societal change. Nature Human Behaviour . ISSN 2397-3374 (Published online first) (doi:10.1038/s41562-022-01517-1)

      Hadar, Tamar, Politimou, Nina and Franco, Fabia (2023) Comparing the benefits of parent-infant flute and singing groups for communication and parenting: A feasibility study. Psychology of Music, ISSN 0305-7356

      Mangiacotti, Anthony, Cipriani, Giovanna, Ward, Emma V., Franco, Fabia and Biasutti, Michele (2023) Development and validation of the Music Cognitive Test: a music-based cognitive screening test. Psychology of Music, 51 (2), pp. 373-394. ISSN 0305-7356 (doi:10.1177/03057356221100851)

      Mangiacotti, A., Ward, E.V., Franco, F., Biasutti, M. (2023). Development and validation of the Music Cognitive Test: A music-based cognitive screening test. Psychology of Music, 51, 373–394. https://doi.org/10.1177/03057356221100851

      Silas, J., Jones, A., Yarrow, K., & Anderson, W. (2023). Spatial attention is not affected by alpha or beta transcranial alternating current stimulation: A registered report. Cortex. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2023.03.011

      Ward, E.V. (2023). Age and processing effects on perceptual and conceptual priming. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 76, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1177/17470218221090128

    • 2022

      Brunswick, Nicola  and Bargary, Serena (2022) Self-concept, creativity and developmental dyslexia in university students: effects of age of assessment. Dyslexia, 28 (3), pp. 293-308. ISSN 1076-9242 (doi:10.1002/dys.1722)

      Carta, S., Mangiacotti, A.M.A., Lopez Valdes, A., Reilly, R.B., Franco, F., Di Liberto, G.M. (2022). The Impact of Temporal Synchronisation Imprecision on TRF Analyses. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2022.109765.

      Derbyshire, James, Dhami, Mandeep K., Belton, Ian and Onkal, Dilek (2022). The value of experiments in futures and foresight science as illustrated by the case of scenario planning. Futures & Foresight Science, e146. ISSN 2573-5152 (Published online first) (doi:10.1002/ffo2.146)

      Dhami, Mandeep K. (2022). Sentencing multiple- versus single-offence cases: does more crime mean less punishment? British Journal of Criminology, 62 (1), pp. 55-72. ISSN 0007-0955 (doi:10.1093/bjc/azab030)

      Dhami, Mandeep K. and Mandel, David R. (2022) Communicating uncertainty using words and numbers. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 26 (6) . pp. 514-526. ISSN 1364-6613 (doi:10.1016/j.tics.2022.03.002)

      Dhami, Mandeep K., Wicke, Lars and Onkal, Dilek (2022). Scenario generation and scenario quality using the cone of plausibility. Futures, 142 , 102995. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0016-3287 (doi:10.1016/j.futures.2022.102995)

      Dhami, Mandeep K. and van den Brink, Yannick, N. (2022). A multi-disciplinary and comparative approach to evaluating pre-trial detention decisions: towards evidence-based reform. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 28 (3) . pp. 381-395. ISSN 0928-1371  (doi:10.1007/s10610-022-09510-0)

      Franco, Fabia, Suttora, Chiara, Spinelli, Maria, Kozar, Iryna and Fasolo, Mirco (2022). Singing to infants matters: early singing interactions affect musical preferences and facilitate vocabulary building. Journal of Child Language, 49 (3) . pp. 552-577. ISSN 0305-0009  (doi:10.1017/S0305000921000167)

      Gana, Faiza L., Saadee, Fatemah and Russell, Yvan I. (2022). Gender differences in childhood anxiety in relation to school performance. North American Journal of Psychology, 24 (2) . pp. 291-296. ISSN 1527-7143

      Jones, Alexander, Ward, Emma V., Csiszer, Enida and Szymczak, Joanna (2022). Temporal expectation improves recognition memory for spatially attended objects. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience . ISSN 0898-929X

      Lundrigan, Samantha, Weir, Ruth, Newton, Andrew, Agudelo, Kelly and Dhami, Mandeep K. (2022). Patterns and predictors of stranger rape locations. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research . ISSN 0928-1371  (Published online first) (doi:10.1007/s10610-022-09535-5)

      Mandel, David R., Irwin, Daniel, Dhami, Mandeep K. and Budescu, David V. (2022). Meta-informational cue inconsistency and judgment of information accuracy: spotlight on intelligence analysis. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making , e2307. ISSN 0894-3257 (Published online first) (doi:10.1002/bdm.2307)

      Manville, Karen, Coulson, Mark, Mulqueen, Michele A., Neller, Kirsty, Searing, Caroline, Welland, Sarah and Reynolds, Gemma (2022). Effects of canine-assisted intervention on the mental health of higher education students: a systematic review. Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 13. pp. 111-145. ISSN 2333-522X  (doi:10.1079/hai.2022.0012)

      Manville, Karen, Coulson, Mark and Reynolds, Gemma (2022). Canine-assisted intervention reduces anxiety and stress in higher education students: a randomized controlled trial. Society & Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies . ISSN 1063-1119 (Published online first) (doi:10.1163/15685306-bja10101)

      Murray, Jennifer, Dhami, Mandeep K., McClatchey, Kirstie, Weiss-Cohen, Leonardo and Ayton, Peter (2022). Health, wellbeing, and social interaction: an international and demographic analysis of perceived life changes and the positives and negatives of the COVID-19 lockdown. Europe’s Journal of Psychology . ISSN 1841-0413

      Pearce, Danielle, Gould, Rebecca L., Roughley, Matthew, Reynolds, Gemma, Ward, Emma V., Bhome, Rohan and Reeves, Suzanne J. (2022). Paranoid and misidentification subtypes of psychosis in dementia. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 134 , 104529. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0149-7634  (doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104529)

      Russell, Yvan I. (2022). Three problems of interdisciplinarity. Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies, 13, pp. 1-19. ISSN 2082-7598 (doi:10.26913/avant)

      Weisz, Shayna R. and Russell, Yvan I. (2022) . An observational study of race and gender homophily in nursery children. North American Journal of Psychology, 24 (4) . pp. 691-700. ISSN 1527-7143  (Accepted/In press)

      Wicke, Lars, Dhami, Mandeep K., Onkal, Dilek and Belton, Ian (2022). Using scenarios to forecast outcomes of a refugee crisis. International Journal of Forecasting, 38 (3) . pp. 1175-1184. ISSN 0169-2070 (doi:10.1016/j.ijforecast.2019.05.017)

    • 2021

      Belton, I. K., & Dhami, M. K. (2021). Cognitive biases and debiasing relevant to intelligence analysis. In R. Viale (Ed.), Handbook on Bounded Rationality. Routledge.

      Chifa, M., Hadar, T., Politimou, N., Reynolds, G., Franco, F. (2021). The Soundscape of Neonatal Intensive Care: A Mixed-Methods Study of the Parents’ Experience. Children, 8, 644, doi.org/10.3390/children8080644

      Falk, S., Fasolo, M., Genovese, G., Romero-Lauro, E., & Franco, F. (2021). Sing for me mama! ID-singing facilitates phonetic discrimination in infancy. Infancy, 26, 248-270.

      Korko, M., Coulson, M., Jones, A., & de Mornay Davies, P. (2021). Types of interference and their resolution in monolingual word production, Acta Psychologica, 214, 5, 103251.

      Mandel, D. R., Dhami, M. K., Tran, S., & Irwin, D. (2021). Arithmetic computation with probability words and numbers. Journal of Behavioural Decision Making, 34(4), 593-608..

      Mangiacotti, A. M., Franco, F., Hsu, M. H., & Biasutti, M. (2021). Evaluating a continuing professional development course on cognitive functions for Music Therapists working in care homes. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 74, 101800.

      Papadimitriou, A., Smyth, C., Politimou. N., Franco, F., Stewart, L. (2021). The impact of the home musical environment on infants' language development. Infant Behavior & Development, 65, 101651.

      Reynolds, G., & Ewing, D. (2021). Children’s sleepiness facilitates the effect of vicarious learning on the development of fear. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 208, 105129.

      Ward, E.V., Isac, A., Donnelley, M., Van Puyvelde, M., & Franco, F. (2021). Memory improvement as a function of mood-matching music. Acta Psychologica, 212, 103216.

    • 2020

      Dhami, M. K., Belton, I., Merrall, E. L. C., McGrath, A., & Bird, S. M. (2020). Criminal sentencing by preferred numbers. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 17(1), 139-163. https://doi.org/10.1111/jels.12246

      Dhami, M. K., & Mandel, D. R. (2020). Words or numbers? Communicating probability in intelligence analysis. American Psychologist, 76(3), 549..

      Dhami, M. K., Lundrigan, S., & Thomas, S. (2020). Police discretion in rape cases. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 35, 157-169. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-018-9299-4

      Lundrigan, S., Dhami, M. K., & Agudelo, K. (2020). Factors predicting conviction in child stranger rape. Child Abuse & Neglect, 101, 104-242. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104242

      Politimou, N., Douglass-Kirk, P., Pearce, M., Stewart, L., & Franco, F. (2020). Melodic expectations in 5-and 6-year-old children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 203, 105020.

      Schaal, N.K., Politimou, N., Franco, F., Stewart, L., and Mullensiefen, D., (2020). The German Music@Home: Validation of a questionnaire measuring at home musical exposure and interaction of young children. PlosOne, 15(8): e0235923.

      Ward, E.V., Berry, C.J., Shanks, D.R., Moller, P.L., & Czsiser, E.L. (2020). Aging predicts decline in explicit and implicit memory: A lifespan study. Psychological Science, 39, 1071–1083.

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