Research centre members

Professor Paul Allen

Director, Centre for Research in Cognition, Neuroscience and Neuro-Imaging (CNNI).

My research career has focused on the neurobiology of psychosis and schizophrenia. I have published almost one hundred peer-reviewed papers in this research field and I am internationally recognised for my work on neurocognitive models of auditory verbal hallucinations. I have received awards and grants to support this work from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, North American Research into Schizophrenia and Depression charity (NARSAD Young and Independent Investigator awards), King’s Health Partners and the British Academy. My current and future work aspires to use real-time functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (rtfMRI), a cutting-edge neuroimaging technique, to examine functional brain networks that underly psychiatric symptoms and to examine if these can be self-regulated by psychiatric patients. Using rtfMRI in this context will enhance understanding of brain networks underling psychiatric symptoms and raises the tantalising prospect that patients could learn to regulate these networks to control or alleviate their psychiatric symptoms.

Other research areas of interest include the neural correlates of attentional control and how these are affected by high levels of trait anxiety (collaborations with Professor Michael Eysenck), and the effects of regular cannabis use on the brain, particularly the hippocampus and regions associated with memory function (collaborators Dr. Sagnik Bhattacharyya, King’s College London, and Dr Kaz Brant, Roehampton).

 

Dr Aleksandar Aksentijevic

My research interests are diverse but cluster around perception and cognition. One area of interest is the integration of pitch in the brain. I have conducted a number of experiments which demonstrate that oscillations at a specific frequency (around 33 Hz) are associated with producing a unified pitch percept (1,2,3). I am interested in applying these findings to the problem of tinnitus and amusia.
In the area of visual perception I have demonstrated that simple geometrical objects distort the surrounding visual space and that these distortions affect object grouping (4,5). This project has the potential to contribute substantially to the theories of perceptual grouping and perceptual illusions.
Investigation of supramodal mechanisms of pattern processing is another area of interest (6,7) which has yielded interesting results—recognition of transformed patterns in a different modality are affected by pattern structure and complexity.
My work on perceptual complexity has resulted in a new complexity measure based on the amount of change (8,9) and has produced a novel form of hidden symmetry (generalised palindrome) which is currently used to investigate pre-conscious processing of pattern structure.
My interest in time perception has resulted in a study which demonstrated a Doppler-like effect in time distance estimates with respect to the past (10). This has served as a platform for my current work on the relationship between real or induced motion on memory.
Finally, I am interested in the psychology of music, philosophy of science  and consciousness.

 

Dr Kaz Brandt

My research interests lie within the domains of memory, cognitive neuropsychology and psychopharmacology. I am specifically interested in the qualitative nature of recognition memory and the manner in which this interacts with the type of information that is being remembered, both in healthy adults and those with localised lesions to the medial temporal lobes. For example a recent key paper in a unique patient has demonstrated the selective role of the entorhinal cortex in the process of familiarity (Brandt et al., 2016; Brain and Cognition). In addition, my research also focuses on memory failures such as the process of forgetting, recently demonstrating the roles of the frontal lobes in this important process (Silas and Brandt, 2016; Neuroscience Letters).

 

Dr Paul Bretherton

My research interests are in the area of attention, perception, memory, and emotion. I’m currently using lateralised brain activity to investigate the neural mechanisms of attentional processes and the role that threat-related stimulus content have on attentional allocation. Further to this, I’m interested in how attentional allocation mechanisms are altered under cognitive and perceptual load.
Additionally, I’m investigating the neural mechanisms of visual attentional processes in relation to visual perception and visual short-term memory, with a specific interest in endogenous and exogenous attentional capture and the effect of these on visual short-term memory encoding. Specifically, a question of interest is how salient, but irrelevant, information is encoded, via attentional capture, into visual short term memory compared to encoding of task-relevant information.
My plans for future research include the investigating visual attentional learning and learning strategies and the subsequent change to visual attentional efficiency. Ideally, the goal is to improve visual attentional performance.

 

Professor Mike Eysenck

Mike Eysenck

Michael Eysenck is a British academic psychologist, and is an emeritus professor in psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London. He also holds an appointment as Professorial Fellow at Roehampton University. His research focuses on cognitive factors affecting anxiety. Eysenck has written and co-written many publications, including several textbooks. In the late 1990s, he developed the theory of the 'hedonic treadmill', stating that humans are predisposed by genetics to plateau at a certain level of happiness, and that the occurrence of novel happy events merely elevates this level temporarily.

He is the son of the noted psychologist Hans Jürgen Eysenck.

Professor Eysenck's research focuses mainly on cognitive factors associated with anxiety in normal and clinical populations. He has recently developed two new theories. First, there is attentional control theory (with Nazanin Derakshan, Rita Santos, and Manuel Calvo), which provides a cognitive account of the effects of anxiety on performance. Second, there is vigilance-avoidance theory (with Nazanin Derakshan and Lynn Myers), which provides a detailed theory of repressive coping. His current research with collaborators is designed to test these two theories in detail.

Specific interests: Cognitive factors in anxiety, including clinical anxiety and implications for therapy. Memory functioning and attentional mechanisms. Personality and mood. Modular approaches to trait anxiety.

Professor Eysenck was a Lecturer and then Reader in Psychology at Birkbeck College University of London between 1965 and 1987. Between 1987 and 2009 he was Professor of Psychology at Royal Holloway College, University of London and Head of Department there between 1987 - 2005, and is now Emeritus Professor at RHUL. He has an additional appointment at Roehampton University that started in 2010. His main research area is anxiety and cognition, an area in which he has published approximately 100 journal articles and book chapters plus two research monographs. Overall, he has written 42 books, many of which are in the area of cognitive psychology, and have a grand total of over 200 publications.

 
 
Research interests
Paul's research aims to understand the neural and neurochemical mechanisms of cognitive deficits in drug users. This work is particularly aimed at understanding those deficits that hinder successful cessation, including deficits in emotion regulation and maladaptive decision-making, and how they may be related to dysfunction in the brain’s serotonin, glutamate and dopamine systems.

He uses a range of techniques including brain stimulation (tDCS, TMS), neuroimaging (fRMI, MRS, PET), cognitive tasks, computational modelling and genetic methods.

For a detailed profile of Paul’s research, please visit this site: https://bit.ly/2I7uxt2

If you are interested in gaining experience in Paul’s group, or simply in learning more, please contact him at paul.faulkner@roehampton.ac.uk

Biography
Paul read Psychology at the University of Sheffield, graduating with a 1st class in 2008. He then obtained a taught MSc in Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry (King’s College London) before undertaking a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (University College London) under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Roiser. In this latter role Paul examined the relationship between serotonin function and decision-making in both healthy controls and depressed patients using neuroimaging, genetic methods, cognitive tasks and computational modelling. This research resulted in the publication of manuscripts detailing the effects of serotonergic manipulations on risky and impulsive decision-making (Faulkner et al., 2014; Faulkner and Deakin, 2014; Faulkner et al., 2016; Selvaraj et al., 2015; Selvaraj et al., 2018), as well as those quantifying sequential decision-making in healthy controls (Huys et al., 2015; Lally et al., 2017).

Paul then undertok a five-year post-doctoral fellowship in the lab of Professor Edythe London at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Here Paul examined the neural and neurochemical mechanisms of tobacco use disorder using neuroimaging, cognitive and genetic methods. This work led to publications describing cognitive and neural responses to smoking cigarettes containing differing doses of nicotine (Faulkner et al, 2017; Faulkner et al., 2018a; Faulkner et al., 2018b), and on the neural mechanisms of successful use of a craving regulation technique that may aid smoking cessation (Ghahremani et al., 2018). Further, Paul combined skills obtained during both his PhD and postdoctoral work to examine the effects of acute and chronic smoking on the brain’s serotonin system; this work demonstrated that smoking-related serotonergic dysfunction is particularly related to the affective aspects of tobacco withdrawal (Faulkner et al., 2018c).

Dr Faulkner joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Roehampton in August 2018. He is currently building upon his PhD and postdoctoral research by examining the neural and neurochemical mechanisms of cognitive deficits in drug users that hinder cessation.

Qualifications
BSc Psychology (Hons) – Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield
MSc Neuroscience – Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
PhD Cognitive Neuroscience – Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

Professional affiliations
College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD), Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research (SRNT), Society for Neuroscience (SfN), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP), Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS)

Teaching
Paul is primarily involved in the teaching of research methods and statistics. He is the module convenor for first year research methods modules ‘Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology and Research Methods and Statistics 1. Paul also contributes research methods lectures to the final-year extended research project (ERP; i.e. the dissertation module), and lectures on cognitive neuroscience and drug addiction (tobacco, nicotine, MDMA/ecstasy) for modules entitled Mind, Body and Brain 1 (year 1) and Health Psychology (year 3) modules.

Links
https://bit.ly/2I7uxt2
 

Dr Giorgio Fuggetta

My research explores the temporal and functional organization of cognitive processes, enhancing the understanding of neural mechanisms underlying visual cognition. I am currently investigating the electrophysiological correlates of exogenous capture of visual attention and the link between visual short-term memory (V-STM) and visual attention processes. I am interested in examining whether involuntary attentional capture by irrelevant but salient visual objects is an exogenous bottom–up phenomenon, or can be modulated by endogenous factors such as current task set. In particular, I am exploring how the combination of series of paradigms from Experimental Psychology including match-to-sample with inhibition of return (IOR) and memory guided visual-search, leads to a modulation of both behavioral performance (i.e. Response Times - RTs and accuracy) and neural responses (Event Related Potentials – ERPs, Wavelets, Phase Locking Factor) throughout task-engaged cortical regions.

Areas of research: Cognitive Neuroscience; translational research – early cognitive Biomarkers of Psychological Dysfunction; Cognitive Functions Enhancement through brain mapping and stimulation; Interdisciplinary approaches;

 

Dr Leigh Gibson

Leigh Gibson's current research is concerned with influences on appetite and food choice, and their interaction with stress, health, and cognitive and emotional well-being.  Leigh has a particular interest in relations between nutrition and cognition, including direct effects of nutritional manipulation on cognitive function, and changes in food preferences through learning mechanisms.  These involve understanding how sensory and nutritional aspects of food act on the brain to alter behaviour.  Leigh is currently collaborating with Dr Tony Goldstone (Imperial College School of Medicine) on projects to understand behavioural changes in obese bariatric surgery patients.  Furthermore, Leigh is working with Jonathan Howard (Hammersmith Hospital) to develop a tastant delivery system for use in the CUBIC fMRI facility at Royal Holloway, to examine brain responses to food and drink underlying eating habits and appetite control.  Leigh is also UK PI on a MRC-funded feasibility study for a kindergarten-based health behaviour intervention in Malaysia (Toybox Malaysia).

 

Dr James Gilleen

james gilleen

My neuroimaging research predominantly focuses on understanding the phenomenology of symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia. For example, some of my research has aimed to provide a better understanding of paranoia and delusions in the context of belief formation and management deficits - and furthermore, how and to what extent these processes can be modulated by brain stimulation and pharmacological compounds. Additionally, I use fMRI in the context of clinical trials to examine the neural changes associated with interventions designed to improve cognition in patient groups and healthy people, for example with candidate drugs, cognitive training or a combination. I also research insight, cognitive insight as well as reward processing deficits in schizophrenia to understand impairments in mood and motivation.

 

Dr Amanda Holmes

My research focuses primarily on the attentional processing of emotional information. I am also interested in the links between anxiety, attention and cognitive performance and in cognitive biases associated with vulnerability to emotional disorders. This work uses methods derived from cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology. I have worked on projects investigating these issues in both human and also non-human primates. My research has also extended to the investigation of mirroring systems in the human brain and to colour categorisation in adults and infants.

 

Dr Joe Levy

I am a cognitive scientist with interests in language, memory and social cognition. I have used techniques from computational modelling, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Along with colleagues from Roehampton, recent projects have included:
the use of experimental methods, EEG and fMRI to examine action observation and perspective taking;
the use of fMRI to measure the association of the default mode network and measures of empathy;
accounting for variation in children’s reading performance with measures of metacognition.

A current focus is work with my colleague John Bullinaria (University of Birmingham) that continues our long collaboration of working on computational measures of word meaning. Our techniques have been very successful in generating numerical representations of the patterns of usage of different words in large bodies of text. The differences or distances between these "semantic vectors” can be shown to reflect the semantic relationships between different words. Recently, we have applied our technique to successfully improve models of cortical activation during word meaning processing tasks. Currently, along with Dr Samantha McCormick at Roehampton, we are looking at the various ways our semantic vectors can explain the linguistic structure of and human performance on vocabulary multiple choice tests. Plans for the future include exploring further applications of these semantic representations in the modelling of linguistic, cognitive and neuroscientific phenomena.

 

Dr Marco Sandrini

My main research goal is to determine the neural mechanisms underlying episodic memory along the lifespan and to develop effective interventions aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
In collaboration with Prof. Paul Allen, Dr. Margot Crossman and Gergely Bartl (PhD student), I am working on a tDCS-fMRI project aimed at determining the neural mechanisms underlying memory enhancement induced by tDCS in healthy subjects.
In collaboration with Dr. Massimo Corbo (Milan, Italy) I am working on a project funded by European Union (Marie-Curie actions) aimed at improving episodic memory in individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). In addition, this projects aims to identify individuals with MCI who will benefit most from treatment with tDCS based on gray and white matter integrity and in relation to the characteristics of some of their genes associated with memory (BDNF, APOE).
In collaboration with Dr. Ben Xu and Dr. Leonardo Cohen (NINDS-NIH, US) I am working on a project funded by the US Department of Defense on the neural mechanisms underlying response inhibition in healthy subjects and patients with mild to moderate Traumatic Brain Injury.

 

Dr Natasza Orlov

Natasza Orlov, is Senior Research Associate at University of Roehampton. She earned her BSc from Middlesex. Subsequently she pursed a PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry King’s College London investigating the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on cognitive functioning in schizophrenia. Her main interests lay in cognition and the brain plasticity. Her post-doctoral research explores endogenous – real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback; and exogenous - brain stimulation - neuromodulation methods and their clinical, neuropsychological and functional effects in individuals with schizophrenia. Natasza holds the International Congress On Schizophrenia Research Young Investigator Award for her PhD research.

Listen to Natasza interviewed by BBC World Service Health Check programme about Tdcs. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05b9q72