Prof. Paul Bennett has been awarded two PhD studentships (Rhian Lewis, funded by The British Heart Foundation; The Psychological and Health Impact Following Failed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation of an Emotionally Close Individual; £83,818; and Rachel Hunter, funded by Thrombosis Research in Advanced Disease; The Psychological and Health Impact Following Failed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation of an Emotionally Close Individual, £74,631).
Both studentships are focused on the consequences of potentially emotionally traumatic events: acute and frightening disease onset or failure to save a life. Both examine theoretical models of trauma and aim to develop brief interventions to help ameliorate any distress experienced as a consequence of the events.
Congratulations to Associate Prof. Andrea Tales, Prof. Ian Thornton (Swansea/Malta) and Prof. Tony Bayer (Cardiff) who have been awarded a PhD studentship by BRACE-Alzheimer's Research (£79,397 over a period of 3 years). The studentship will investigate vascular cognitive impairment and vascular dementia, which are under-investigated and poorly characterised compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In Alzheimer's disease there is evidence of significant disruption in the functional integrity of a far wider range and level of brain operations than those examined routinely, including many aspects of visual processing, such as attention, eye movements, multi-sensory integration and intra-individual variability in reaction time. These aspects of behaviour may impact upon functional independence, quality of life and social interaction and be predictive of future decline. Behaviourally-relevant dysfunction above that inferred by traditional neuropsychological testing may also occur in Vascular dementia. However, this possibility has not been investigated extensively and thus in the present study we aim to examine a wide range of brain function in Vascular dementia using an array of simple, easily administered computer-based tests.
Dr Nick Davis, who will be joining the Department in October, has featured in a video describing research he and colleagues conducted on 'Challenges of proper placebo control for non-invasive brain stimulation in clinical and experimental applications'. The article is published in the current issue of European Journal of Neuroscience and you can view the video here.
This week, Prof. Andy Parrott of the Department of Psychology and colleagues from Hertfordshire University and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA), are hosting the Second International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances at Swansea University, 12th and 13th September 2013.
Welcome to Dr Victoria Lovett, who joins us as a Lecturer from Bangor University. Victoria, who is a developmental psychologist, has recently had her research on erogenous zones featured in an article in the Guardian.
Dr Christoph Weidemann and colleagues have published a paper in leading journal Nature Neuroscience on 'Direct recordings of grid-like neuronal activity in human spatial navigation'. The study reports evidence for the existence of grid cells from electrodes implanted in human patients with severe epilepsy. Findings proved the presence of grid cells that function in the same way as those in other mammals. Coverage of the research has featured in the New York Times, The Daily Mail, and WalesOnline. You can read more about it here and here.
Congratulations to Dr Michelle Lee who was presented with the Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award by the Vice Chancellor at the College of Human and Health Sciences graduation ceremony, July 9th 2013.
Two of the main University Rankings by Subject published last month show Swansea Psychology in the top third/top quarter of the UK’s psychology departments. The 2014 Independent "Complete University Guide" ranked us 28th out of 112 psychology departments in the UK, and the Guardian's University Guide placed us 35th out of 107 departments.
Congratulations to PhD student Menna Price who won the Collaborative Award in the 2013 Research as Art competition. Her image, "Resisting Temptation: Individual Differences in Impulsivity", was chosen by Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, who said that she felt Menna had captured the essence of the competition beautifully, through both collaboration with an external artist and drawing her children into the research story very elegantly. Menna's award-winning entry can be viewed here.
The Research as Art competition finalists will be displayed in the Atrium for the next two weeks, and then in the Grand Theatre, Swansea from 9th-26th July, before moving to the Royal Institution in London from mid-October to mid-November.
Dr Fred Boy and Dr Simon Dymond are co-investigators on a recently awarded grant for £33,000 entitled, "Can GABAergic brain stimulation promote risk aversion in gambling?", which was funded by the Wellcome Trust ISSF to Dr Chris Chambers at Cardiff University, in collaboration with Professor Frederick Verbruggen and Dr Natalia Lawrence at Exeter University.
Dr Stephen Johnston has been selected for funding from the DSTL National PhD scheme (76K) for a project entitled, "Using pupilometry for threat detection and localisation of unconsciously perceived threats in the environment".
Dr Gabriela Jiga-Boy is one of the 30 researchers who were selected to take part in this year's prestigious Welsh Crucible - Developing future research leaders for Wales.
The Welsh Crucible, based on NESTA’s highly esteemed ‘Crucible’ development programme, is Funded by the St David’s Day group of higher education institutions and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. It brings together thirty researchers to explore how they can work together to tackle the current research challenges facing Wales.
Gabriela's research interests rely on why people often act inconsistently with the best way to decide or to act, although they are aware of these. She has found that the effort we invest in everyday activities shapes what emotions we expect to feel and how we manage to keep deadlines. She is also conducting research into how people can make better decisions regarding health and the environment if they train their self-control resources, if they simulate the future, or if they know how to exploit information about their own behaviour and other people’s behaviour, delivered via smart phones.
Dr Simon Dymond was one of 73 signatories from 45 institutions around the world with editorial board positions on 120 unique journals of a letter published on the Guardian website promoting study pre-registration. The letter makes the case that trust in science would be improved by study pre-registration. According to this model, pre-registered manuscripts are reviewed before scientists collect data. If the scientific question and methods are deemed sound, the authors are then offered "in-principle acceptance" of their article, which virtually guarantees publication regardless of how the results turn out. Read the full letter here.
The Department of Psychology has two fully-funded PhD studentships available for October 2013. One studentship involves the neurobehavioural mechanisms of human avoidance and will be supervised by Dr Simon Dymond. The second studentship involves the neurogenetics of gambling addiction, and will be supervised by Dr Fred Boy. The deadline for applications is June 12th 2013.
Dr Stephen Johnston and Dr Victoria Lovett, Bangor University, have been awarded a grant from The British Academy to investigate the effects of violent video games on the way we process the world. Specifically, they will be focusing on the way that this type of media influences the way we process social information, using neuroscience methods. This type of work will inform the need to investigate the effects of modern media on cognitive functioning, a poignant issue given the ready access people have to violent material with modern devices.
Dr Christoph Weidemann has been awarded a grant from the BIAL Foundation. The project is entitled, "Inferring Memory Strength Through 'Mind Reading'" and has a budget of EUR 45,000.
Dr Fred Boy, Dr Simon Dymond, and Mrs Paola Griffiths (ILS Imaging Centre) have been awarded a grant from the BIAL Foundation for a project entitled, 'The Neurochemistry of Gambling-Related Impulsive Cognition and Decision-Making: A Multimodal Imaging Approach". The grant, which is worth 40,000 Euro, will involve a series of studies using magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine concentrations of neurotransmitters, such as GABA, in brain regions known to be involved in cognition.
Scientists from Cardiff and Swansea Universities remind the Welsh Assembly Government of the importance of science in informing public policy: On Friday, December 7th, every Assembly Member was given a copy of a new book by Mark Henderson, titled “The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters”. Funds for the books were provided by individual donations from across Wales and the UK (http://www.pledgebank.com/scienceinwales). Dr Fred Boy, Dr Gabriela Jiga-Boy, and Dr Simon Dymond are among the signatories from the Department of Psychology. See the press release here.
Prof. Andy Parrott appeared on two live Channel 4 television programmes about Ecstasy/MDMA on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th September. He attempted to describe the damaging effects of MDMA on brain functioning, and adverse effects on psychological well-being. His research was also noted in several national newspaper articles (Independent, Telegraph, Mail, others), and was also mentioned on a BBC Radio 4 commentary programme. Unfortunately he was given very little time to present this information, although some other MDMA researchers were given no air-time. For instance, Professor Derek Moore (University of East London) was not allowed to describe the damaging effects of MDMA use during pregnancy on subsequent child development. (note: this study was a collaboration with Swansea University). Prof. Parrott emphasised the dangers of MDMA, shown to be a neurotoxin in hundreds of scientific studies.
Dr Simon Dymond, in collaboration with colleagues from Southern Illinois University and University of Vermont, has been awarded a prestigious 2012 Treatment Grant from US charity, Autism Speaks. The project entitled, Emergent Communication Skills of Nonverbal Children with Autism Facilitated by Relational Responding, is worth $116,000 (+ indirect costs) over two years. Click here for more details.
Prof. Paul Bennett has recently been elected as the chair elect of the British Psychological Society Division of Health Psychology. He will begin his three year term in September 2012.
Prof. Rodger Wood recently gave a 2 day workshop on the neurobehavioural sequelae of traumatic brain injury to the Canadian Brain Injury Association, at Brock University, St Catherines, Ontario, Canada.
The Royal Society has awarded a £393,630 grant to Professor Rory Wilson from the Biosciences Department at Swansea University. Prof. Andy Parrott was one of the external collaborators on this grant. This Royal Society grant will facilitate future collaborative ‘human psychopharmacology research’ between psychology and biosciences. We will be using their state of the art ‘motion detection’ devices - in parallel with our psychological assessments. For instance, we plan to investigate physical aspects of nervousness and irritability during nicotine withdrawal, also the psychomotor skills of abstinent Ecstasy/MDMA users.
Prof. Andy Parrott (Swansea), Prof. Philip Murphy (Liverpool), and Prof. Andrew Scholey (Melbourne), were Guest Editors for a special applied issue of ‘Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental’. The special issue of this journal, in March 2012, was entitled ‘Applied Psychopharmacology in Substance and Alcohol Abuse’. It was based around two psychopharmacology symposia they organised for the 27th International Congress of Applied Psychology, in Melbourne Australia.
Richard May, a PhD student in the Department supervised by Dr Simon Dymond, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Student Research Competition by the Verbal Behaviour Special Interest Group (VB-SIG) of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). Richard submitted a research paper entitled "Emergent Intraverbal Responses following Tact Training in Adolescents with Autism', which was reviewed by several leading experts in the field of verbal behaviour who rated it very highly. He will receive his plaque, cheque for $500, and a copy of the 2012 issue of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior journal at the ABAI Annual Convention in Seattle on May 27th.
Later, Richard will take up a full time, tenured lectureship in behaviour analysis at the University of Glamorgan where he will be join a team of internationally recognised board certified behaviour analysts teaching the new MSc in Behaviour Analysis and Therapy. Congratulations, Rich!
Prof. Andy Parrott was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the First International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances, which was recently held in Budapest Hungary. This conference was co-organised and co-sponsored by the European Union agency in this field, namely the European Monitoring Committee on Drug and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The Second International Conference on NPS will be held at Swansea University in 2013.
The Department of Psychology at Swansea is one of the top three departments in Wales, according to the 2013 Complete University Guide. Overall, Swansea University is rated second overall in Wales (just behind Cardiff) and moved into the top third of universities in the UK. For more details, see http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
Dr Cris Izura has been awarded a prize for her research on age of acquisition effects in language learning. The Spanish Society of Experimental Psychology (SEPEX) awarded the prize of "best paper of the year" to Dr Izura's recent article in Journal of Memory and Language: Izura, C., Pérez, MA., Agallou, E., Wright V.C., Marín, J., Stadthagen-González, H., & Ellis, A.W. (2011). Age/order of acquisition effects and the cumulative learning of foreign words: A word training study. Journal of Memory and Language, 64, 32-58. Dr Izura will collect her prize at a joint conference organised by the SEPEX and the Belgian Association for Psychological Sciences (BAPS), at the University of Liege, Belgium, in May 2012.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the USA, funded a $2.6million prospective study of mothers who used MDMA ‘Ecstasy’ during their pregnancy. Prof. Andy Parrott was co-principal investigator on this study, together with Prof. Lynn Singer from Case Western University USA, and Prof. Derek Moore from University of East London UK. The first findings on the wellbeing of the emergent babies have just been published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. They showed that the children of Ecstasy/MDMA using mothers displayed significant developmental delays in physical skills and abilities. This may relate to serotonergic neurotoxicity, since MDMA is known to impair serotonin activity, and this neurotransmitter is important for gross motor control. NIDA co-organized an international press release on these novel findings, which was distributed worldwide, and was also featured on the Swansea University Research News Page.
Congratulations to Emeritus Prof. Paul Willner, who has made a successful application to the NISCHR AHSC Clinical Research Time Competition. Professor Willner, who until his recent retirement was also a consultant clinical psychologist with AMB UHB, received two years of funding for a pilot study to develop a project on "Functional Neuroimaging of Decision-Making in Adults with Learning Disabilities" (working with Dr Simon Dymond). The project commences in April 2012.
Dr Steve Stewart-Williams’ book, Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life, was recently translated into Italian. In January 2012, a mini-conference was held in Torino, Italy, specifically to debate the ideas in the book. It was led by professors from diverse fields, including theology, bioethics, and human genetics, and was moderated by members of the Italian press.
Prof. Mark Blagrove has been awarded a grant of £100k by the Economic and Social Research Council for a project titled “Dream content as a measure of memory consolidation across multiple periods of sleep”. The project is a collaboration with the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley, and with sleep laboratories at the Universities of Manchester and York.
Prof. Rodger Wood has received a Lifetime Recognition Award from the Welsh Government for his work in Brain Injury Rehabilitation. The award was presented by Carwyn Jones - the First Minister for Wales, at an awards ceremony held on the 5th December 2011 at the SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff.
Prof. Andy Parrott was recently appointed as Adjunct Professor, at the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, in Melbourne Australia.
Congratulations to Dr Jeremy Tree, who recently got promoted to Senior Lecturer!
Dr Phil Newton (College of Medicine) and Dr Simon Dymond have been awarded a Swansea Academy for Learning & Teaching (SALT: http://salt.swan.ac.uk/en/) Project Grant for £2,066. The project involves the application of 'stimulus equivalence' to the development of online resources for University science education (specifically, neuroanatomy teaching).
Prof. John Manning has been invited to give the keynote talk at the 100th Annual meeting of the Japanese Urological Association in Yokohama 21-24th April 2012. The title will be:
"Digit ratio (2D:4D) and its relationship to prenatal sex steroids and male sexuality".
Prof. Andy Parrott (Swansea) and Professor Johannes Thome (Rostock University, Germany) co-organised and chaired a symposium at the 10th International Congress of Biological Psychiatry, at the International Conference Centre in Prague, on 1st June 2011. Their symposium was entitled: Adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) co-morbidity factors.
Dr Michelle Lee, James Maw, Heidi Seage, & Suzanne Higgs (Birmingham University) obtained a BTG (Bridging the Gap, a Swansea initiative funded by EPSRC) Pilot grant on Modelling Choice Behaviour: what can psychologists and economists learn from each other? Value: £1614.
Prof. Rodger Wood is giving a keynote lecture at a conference on brain injury rehabilitation at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Williamsburgh, USA on May 6th, - The psychosocial impact of neurobehavioural legacies following traumatic brain injury.
Gabriela Jiga-Boy, Eslambolchilar, P. & Tapper, K. The allure of good plans: How mobile phone-based feedback can boost the positive effect of concrete plans on health behaviour change. Swansea University Bridging the Gaps. £3,950. May 2011-January 2012.
Prof. Andy Parrott recently appeared on a BBC3 television programme about Ecstasy. In the interview he emphasised the damaging psychobiological effects of MDMA, and noted that multiple polydrug usage was also frequent.
Prof. Phil Reed was elected to the Board of Editors for the journal: Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, which is one of the top autism journals and currently ranked 6th in all rehabilitation journals.
Prof. Paul Bennett presented an invited keynote paper at the 2nd World Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Guidance, at Antalya, Turkey : “Keep it Simple Stupid”: "realistic psychological interventions in modern health care settings".
Dr Simon Dymond and the Relational Responding research subgroup have been awarded funding (£1000) from the Learning Disabilities, Autism, and Neurodevelopmental disorders network (http://www.ldancymru.org.uk/) to enable pilot data collection for an invited full grant application to Autism Speaks (http://www.autismspeaks.org/).
Dr Emmanuel Pothos and Dr. Andy Wills (Exeter) just published an edited volume on Formal Approaches in Categorization. The publisher is Cambridge University Press.
Antony Hughes, Lisa Osborne, and Prof. Phil Reed have been successful in obtaining a grant to assess the effectiveness of a computer-based teaching programme for reading, and have been awarded £25,874 for a year’s research project.
Kim Jenkins (supervised by Katy Tapper), has been awarded a Health PhD Studentship from the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR).The Institute provides a maximum of ten, £60,000 grants each year to doctoral students pursuing research on health from a prevention and early intervention perspective.
Click here to download the Department of Psychology News Archive for 2008 - 2011.