Cognitive Neural Sciences Laboratory

The Cognitive Neural Sciences (CNS) Laboratory's research focuses on learning and memory, in particular the plausible mechanisms that allow us to adapt to a changing environment.

These processes are central to our ability to make optimal decisions based on past experience. The CNS uses behavioural, electroencephalography (EEG) and genetic approaches to investigate the neural substrates that support learning and decision-making.

An important aspect of our work is using mathematical modelling of behavioural performance and brain activity to gain a better understanding of learning processes. To simulate how new learning occurs, we use connectionist models that share characteristics with our nervous system. The strength of this approach is that it provides us with a way of understanding how the brain achieves complex reasoning even though each of its components (a neuron) is not rational. We use these techniques to investigate learning and decision-making in healthy ageing and Parkinson’s disease.

The CNS also studies individual differences in learning processes, some of which are potentially linked to clinical and sub-clinical symptoms, such as anxiety and schizotypy or schizophrenia.

Additionally, we investigate motor functions, including motor sequence learning, action selection and inhibition. The ability to inhibit prepotent responses, in particular, is considered a core executive function that seems to be compromised in a number of disorders. We investigate cognitive processes that contribute to response inhibition, such as fluctuations in attention associated with error processing, which allows us to gain a deeper understanding of individual differences in performance and the factors that contribute to suboptimal performance.

Interested in a postgraduate research degree?

We offer exciting opportunities for researchers at the honours, masters and PhD levels. Our research degrees are open to students from a broad range of backgrounds, and range from basic sciences to clinical research. If you are interested in human health, consider furthering your research career with us.

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