Before joining the School of Psychology at Nottingham, I lectured at the University of Liverpool and was awarded my PGCHE there. I worked as an MRC- and BBSRC-funded post-doctoral research with Prof. John Pearce, FRS (Cardiff University) Prof. Geoffrey Hall (The University of York) before going into lecturing. Geoffrey also supervised my DPhil. I took my BA in Psychology at the University of Reading where Dr Liz Gaffan influenced my interests in experimental psychology and especially associative learning theory.
C83MLP Mechanisms of Learning and Psychopathology
C82MPR/C84MPR Practical Methods
C83MPR/C84PRJ Project supervisions
Aleksander Nitka, Leona Ryan and I have been investigating people's recognition memory using eye-tracking during presentations of visual stimuli (e.g., pictures of domestic objects; short GIFs). People will tend to look at stimuli that are entirely novel, familiar but not seen for a relatively long time, and familiar but presented in alongside stimuli that they have not accompanied before. We infer recognition by these biases in looking.
The tasks that we examine have their origins in studies of object recognition in rodents and test a theoretical account of recognition based on Wagner's SOP model. This evidence and account are discussed by Robinson & Bonardi, 2015 and follow on from work with rats on object recognition with Emma Whitt and Mark Haselgrove and from work with Emma and Peter Jones identifying novelty/familiarity as a stimulus feature.
Sara Bru Garcia, Dave George, Dietmar Heinke and I are looking at acquired equivalence in configural learning tasks. A pair of stimuli will be judged as more similar when they have a common training history and the using of common training in configural task turns out to be important for precision in understanding its possible mechanisms. Sara has been examining a potential parallel between acquired equivalence and attentional set, Dave and Dietmar are implementing computational analyses that accommodate the phenomenon and may derive testable predictions.
Again the tasks and their analyses have their origins in work in non-human work, (e.g., Allman, et al. 2014).
Peter Jones, Emma Whitt and I examined mechanisms of rats' novelty/familiarity discrimination in a BBSRC-funded grant & PhD studentship. Our main findings were:
- That despite the parallels between 'spontaneous object recognition' and simple, orienting-response, habituation procedures, lesions of the perirhinal cortex reduced rats' object recognition but did not affect habituation. This could be because they rely on different processes (declarative memory versus stimulus → response learning).
- The reduction of object memory in rats with manipulations of the perirhinal cortex has been claimed to be the result of a failure to discriminate novelty from familiarity; however, other accounts of this deficit are available. We found direct evidence of the failure of novelty/familiarity discrimination in an auditory generalisation task in rats.