Current Students

Supervisors - Academic and Research Interests

It is not always possible for staff to agree to supervise all students who wish to work with them. The main reason for this is the desire of staff to ensure that all students get appropriately intensive supervision.

If staff have too many students, all the students suffer. For this reason we recommend that you contemplate topics from more than one staff member in the early phases of discussion.

To speak with any staff members about potential supervision, please email them for an appointment or follow any specific directions they have provided below.

Students should note that not all of the following staff will be available in a particular year. 

W/Professor David Badcock

The way we see determines how we are able to interact with the environment. The focus of my research is on human visual performance.

My current research examines both the contribution of early visual pathways to individual tasks and the extent to which common neural and perceptual processes are involved in motion, pattern and position coding. The processes are investigated using both normal and clinical groups of observers.

Currently the laboratory group is running long-term projects examining how humans perceive both the speed and direction of the type of motion produced by moving through the environment, the processes that allow us to determine the location of objects within the environment, the processes that help us to detect and group large scale structure in the visual world and also one aiming to determine the nature of the long-lasting changes that arise as a consequence of migraine headaches. I also have a collaborative project with Murray Maybery on visual processing in autism.

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Dr Nic Badcock 

My research aims to optimise learning outcomes and enhance wellbeing, particularly in developmental disorders. For learning, I’m interested in how attentional control and cerebral lateralisation relate to behaviours such as reading acquisition, language learning, and academic achievement. For wellbeing, I’m curious about the relationship between self-concept and negative outcomes in developmental disorders (e.g., dyslexia), and how this might impact on learning and education. For honours, I’d be happy to support the following sorts of questions addressed in university populations and maybe kids:

  •  why attention and perception relate to reading abilities: using paradigms like the attentional blink and perceptual anchoring (behavioural psychophysics)
  • how cerebral lateralisation of verbal and non-verbal information processing relates to real-world behaviours like reading and educational outcomes (EEG and functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound)
  • whether mental health traits and coping-strategies influence educational engagement (e.g., university retention) for poor readers (mixed methods: surveys, behavioural tasks, and interviews)

These sorts of project can inform our theoretical understanding of how the mind and brain adapt to the environment, which in turn have implications for education and clinical practice.

Please email me if you’d like to talk about the possibilities.


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Dr Donna Bayliss

Working memory is an active memory system that is closely linked with educational achievement in children and also a range of cognitive abilities in adults including reasoning ability and fluid intelligence. It has also been implicated in a number of developmental disorders such as ADHD.

Current projects include:

  • Memory consolidation. This refers to the process of creating stable memory representations that can then be used to achieve current task goals. Current models of working memory do not incorporate a process of consolidation. However, in my recent work, I have provided evidence of the importance of consolidation for working memory in both children and adults, which challenges a number of current models. I am interested in furthering this research to advance and distinguish between competing models of working memory. I am also interested in examining whether impairment of this process might underlie some of the difficulties with working memory experienced by individuals with ADHD symptomatology.
  • Social vulnerability in children. Social vulnerability refers to a child’s vulnerability to being tricked or misled by their peers. Recent research has linked social vulnerability to negative social outcomes such as bullying. I am interested in examining the causes and consequences of social vulnerability, particularly in relation to clinical populations that we suspect may be more socially vulnerable and, therefore, at risk of negative social outcomes.
  • The association between neuropsychological, cognitive, and sensory abilities in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Cognitive and sensory abilities are impacted to varying levels in children with hemiplegic CP, yet there is a lack of clarity around the links, if any, between the different cognitive and sensory abilities in this complex patient group. This study aims to address this gap by exploring the association between neuropsychological, and sensory abilities in children with hemiplegic CP. This project will be suitable for a MPsych (Clin Neuro)/ PhD student and will be run in collaboration with Dr Jonson Moyle, a neuropsychologist at Kids Rehab WA at Perth Children’s Hospital, and Dr Belinda McLean, an Occupational Therapist also located at Perth Children’s Hospital.

Interested students should email me to arrange a time to discuss specific projects further.

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Dr Rodrigo Becerra

My overall research interest is in the clinical psychology area, and assessment and intervention of psychological presentations in particular. My current research focuses on: :

  • The assessment of emotional reactivity, regulation, and awareness (alexithymia), in both non-clinical and clinical populations. In conjunction with collaborators, we have developed a series of self-report measures (The PERTH series) addressing conceptual and statistical limitations of existing scales and am interested in further validation of these instruments.
  • Development of an eclectic and flexible Emotion Regulation Program. Emotion dysregulation is a transdiagnostic feature of most psychiatric conditions (OCD, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc.) and I am interested in developing/improving interventions that maximise emotion regulatory skills (e.g., mindfulness based therapies, psychoeducation, interpersonal therapy, CBT, etc.).
  • Emotions in Acquired brain Injury (ABI). There are many changes in emotional functioning after an ABI and I am in exploring these changes so that we develop effective interventions and support post ABI.
  • Emotions in general. As there are many theoretical and applied gaps in the literature on emotions, there are many areas in need of further research, including, but not limited to: definition, assessment, philosophy, coherence (e.g., between the psychophysiology, subjective and behavioural channels), subtypes and cultural differences, etc.

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Associate Professor Jason Bell

My research areas include:

  • Psychophysical research. My psychophysical research considers how the human visual system processes shapes and objects for recognition. Recognition is accomplished through the coordinated activation of distinct brain regions. My recent published work and my current research is advancing our understanding of how visual perception is achieved. More recently, I have also become interested in hemispheric specialisation. Current students are examining how attributes such as symmetry are processed differently by the left and right hemispheres
  • Clinical research. I am interested in studying abnormalities of perception within particular groups. Together with Associate Professor Elizabeth Rieger (ANU) I am undertaking research to understand the attentional biases associated with eating disorders, including obesity. Current projects with Neurologists involve the study of perceptual abnormalities following head injury, or stroke. Visual task provide a highly sensitive measure to further understand these disorders. Collaborations with other clinical members of staff in the Research School of Psychology are being developed.
  • Sensory neuroscience. Understanding functional specialisation in the brain is a fundamental goal of Neuroscience and Psychology. My lab currently offers opportunities to study the effects of non-invasive cortical stimulation on perception, and behaviour. Current research projects and collaborations are utilising neuroscience techniques such as: transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS; transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS to make significant advances in our understanding of perception and behaviour.

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Dr Vanessa Bowden

My research interests lie in the field of applied psychology and in using psychological principles to improve our understanding of how people complete a range of important everyday tasks. One topic I am particularly interested in is improving driver safety on the road and I am currently involved in projects aimed at training both new and experienced drivers in a simulator environment.

Working in collaboration with Associate Professor Shayne Loft and Associate Professor Troy Visser I am also involved in projects on prospective memory, situation awareness in complex tasks, and using eye-tracking technology to improve our understanding of how attention is allocated.

I would be happy to discuss potential projects that relate to any of these topics and can be contacted by email.

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Associate Professor Sue Byrne

My research interests lie in the field of clinical psychology. I have a particular interest in eating and weight disorders and I have a strong background in both research and clinical work in this area. My current research includes major projects which aim to identify causal pathways to eating disorders and obesity, and to test new treatments for these disorders.My research team provides evidence-based psychological treatment for eating and weight disorders in children, adolescents and adults.

Honours projects I have supervised in the past have included those focusing on psychosocial consequences of obesity in children and adolescents, binge eating and other eating disorder psychopathology in children and adolescents, testing various causal models of bulimia nervosa, outcomes of group cognitive-behavioural therapy for obesity in adults, the role of the media in the development of disordered eating, the relationship between fast food consumption and mental health, body image in males, predictors of drop out from treatment for eating disorders and the relationship between obesity and depression in children, adolescents and adults.

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Ms Stephanie Chen

Controls rooms are operational hubs that necessitates human operators interacting with each other and with technology. These are complex sociotechnical environments in which large amounts of data must be processed, and it’s through teamwork and communication that the best decisions are made.

The current research uses the Control Room Use Simulation Environment (CRUSE) to investigate team cognition, team performance and decision making within a submarine control room. There is also research on the impact of automation on individuals undertaking submarine operator roles.

The research is in collaboration with Associate Professor Shayne Loft and with input from Defence Science and Technology Scientists. Potential honours projects could focus on:

  • Exploring individual roles within the control room team.
  • Understanding the impact of human factors manipulations on workload, situation awareness, and performance.
  • Exploring the impact of task automation on individual operators.

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Dr Kate Crookes

I research face recognition in the FaceLab, which is part of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in the Study of Cognition and its Disorders. People are generally very good at recognising faces. We are able to quickly and effortlessly determine if a newly encountered face is someone we know or a stranger despite the extraordinary similarity of faces as visual stimuli. I am particularly interested in the perceptual processes that underlie this ability and how they are affected by experience.

I am interested in:

  • How face recognition ability develops across childhood. Are we born face experts or is it a skill that takes many years of experience to develop?
  • How face processing differs for own-race versus other-race faces. What causes us to be better at recognising people from our own race than people from other races?

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Dr Guy Curtis

I am a researcher with eclectic interests in organisational, social, and cross-cultural psychology, with a research focus on individual differences. I have three main topic areas in which I am currently running and developing new projects.

  • Leadership: my research has investigated the connection between individual differences in information-processing styles and leadership styles, leadership behaviours, and leadership outcomes. I am interested in expanding on this work looking at different styles of leadership (e.g., destructive leadership) and predictors of leadership effectiveness (e.g., psychological need satisfaction and well-being).
  • Academic integrity: I have conducted research on students’ engagement in plagiarism and other forms of cheating at university. I am interested in looking at psychological predictors of plagiarism and cheating behaviour and the integration of these with economic and criminological perspectives.
  • Affect and social cognition: I have conducted research into the effect of moods and emotions, particularly anxiety, on how we think about and evaluate other people. This research includes the influence of anxiety on impression formation, stereotyping, and face recognition.

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Associate Professor Ullrich Ecker

My research interests lie in the field of memory and memory updating.

One question of interest is why people remember the things they remember (and forget the things they forget), and to answer this question I am contrasting interference and consolidation accounts of memory.

The second area of interest revolves around the processing of misinformation, and in particular the question why people continue to rely on outdated or invalidated information in their reasoning and decision making. I am currently investigating a number of factors that influence this failure of memory updating, including pre-existing attitudes, personality traits, and the effects of argument strength and repetition.

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Associate Professor Nicolas Fay

I am interested in collective behavior. My research extends traditional psychology, and its focus on individual cognition and behaviour, to the study of joint action (i.e., how people do things together). Three key research questions are listed below:

  • Creating Communication Systems from Scratch - In the absence of a shared language, how might people create a communication system? Is one communication modality (gesture, vocal) better suited to language creation than the other?
  • Group Decision-Making - Groups, from management to military, are frequently used to solve complex problems. Yet, group decision-making is often inferior to individual decision-making. How should groups be organized to optimize decision-making?
  • Social Learning -  People can learn from others instead of relying on individual trial-and-error learning (e.g., learning from someone that a fruit is poisonous rather than experiencing this firsthand). When do people choose to learn socially, and when do they choose to learn individually?

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Dr Simon Farrell

I am interested in testing models of episodic memory, and looking at how we evaluate options when we make decisions, and choose between them. Some specific projects on offer are:

  • (How) do we use memory to retrospectively evaluate experiences that extend over time?
  • How does social context (competing or co-operating) affect decision-making?
  • How does working memory load affect decision-making?

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Dr Allison Fox

My research interests include examination of the timing and neural substrates of psychological processes with neuroimaging techniques, such as the event-related potential (ERP). These techniques are used to further understanding of both normal and impaired functioning. ERPs can provide valuable additional information about how people process stimuli, particularly in cases where overt behavioural responses cannot be reliably obtained.

Projects currently underway include investigation of the long-term effects of development, and substance abuse on cognitive functioning, as well as delineation of the nature of the processes contributing to error-monitoring, inhibition, memory, and perception using ERPs.

Research topics might include performance monitoring and maturation of auditory temporal processing, and I can be contacted by email to discuss potential research supervision.

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Dr Laura Fruhen

My research interests are in the areas of organisational psychology and traffic psychology. My organisational psychology research focuses on leadership, teamwork, work design and attitudes and norm perceptions. I link these concepts with workplace safety, mental health and wellbeing, and behaviour. My research on traffic psychology centres around car driver and cyclists interactions on the roads. In this research setting, I focus on the factors that shape these interactions and am in particular interested in attitudes and norm perceptions and their antecedents.

Some of the research questions I am in particular interested in are (but not limited to):

  • The concept of unease: How is unease experienced by those who make potentially risky decisions? What are the benefits and downsides of experiencing unease? What are its components and antecedents?
  • Implicit theories about work design: To what extent do implicit theories of work design determine what work people chose?
  • Car driver and cyclists' interactions: How does road infrastructure shape interactions and attitudes? What are cyclist stereotypes perceived by drivers?

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Associate Professor Brandon Gavett

My current research interests focus primarily on dynamic changes in cognition and cognitive reserve as a function of aging, covering a spectrum of healthy aging to dementia caused by neurodegenerative disease. Issues related to assessment and measurement in this area are an important focus. Students are invited to pursue collaborations with me on the topics below:

  • Investigating the role race and ethnicity play in cognitive aging, and how the effects of these demographic variables may be mediated through biological pathways.
  • Exploring how education contributes to cognitive reserve, and how cognitive reserve is manifested with regard to brain structure in older adults.
  • Gaining a better understanding of the strategic changes older adults make when they are exposed to serial neuropsychological assessment, and determining whether a maladaptive change in strategy (irrespective of change in performance) is a useful sign of neurodegenerative disease.

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Associate Professor Gilles Gignac

My research is focused on the area of intelligence: the capacity to adapt to the environment using cognitive abilities. To measure intelligence, we usually use intelligence tests. I'm interested in understanding how human performance on these tests arises. Theoretically, performance arises through cognitive ability, however, there are other (additional) candidates, such as test-taking motivation and self-belief, for example.

I'm also interested in perceptions of intelligence among the general public, the impacts of intelligent behaviour on society, and the distinction between intelligence and expertise.

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Dr Ben Grafton

Cognitive theorists contend that biased patterns of cognitive processing, across a range of operations including attention, interpretation, memory, and appraisal, causally contribute to individual differences in psychological resilience. The key aims of my research are threefold:

  • to identify the patterns of biased cognitive processing associated with individual differences in psychological resilience;
  • to determine the causal nature of observed associations between each such cognitive bias and psychological resilience; and
  • to develop and test the capacity of novel cognitive technologies capable of altering the cognitive biases that causally underpin psychological resilience, in ways that therapeutically enhance such resilience, thereby delivering applied benefits to the community.

Much of my work involves collaborations with colleagues at international universities, which currently include Oxford, Kings College London, Amsterdam, Exeter, and others.

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Dr Mark Hurlstone

My research interests are diverse and span the following five areas:

  • Auditory distraction: testing a duplex mechanism account of auditory distraction and attentional selectivity in which some forms of distraction are resistible and others are ineluctable.
  • Behavioural economics: applying insights from laboratory experiments and psychology to economics, particularly the economics of climate change and other ecosystem issues.
  • Cognitive modelling: computational and mathematical modelling of cognitive processes; model evaluation and selection issues; models of choice behaviour and response time.
  • Human memory: short-term and long-term memory; serial recall memory; free recall memory; sequence learning; relationship between time and memory.
  • Psychology and climate change: using principles of cognitive and social psychology to facilitate the communication of climate science.

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Dr Linda Jeffery

I study how we process social information from faces and bodies. Subtle cues to identity, gender, ethnicity, age, attractiveness, emotional state and focus of attention need to be read from the face in particular. Critically, this information guides everyday social interactions, so expertise in extracting this information is vital for social functioning. However, reading faces presents a challenge to our brains because all faces are remarkably similar as visual patterns. Therefore, we rely on very subtle differences and variations between them to make all these judgements.

My research focuses on understanding how our visual system meets the challenge of rapidly and efficiently providing us with the information we need to read faces and bodies.  I have a particular interest in determining how face perceptions skills mature in children but I also supervise projects investigating face perception in adults. I am also interested in understanding the sources of individual variation in these abilities among the general population and in determining why some clinical groups often have difficulties with faces (e.g. autism, prosopagnosia).

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Dr Lisette Kanse

My research is in the area of human performance management. How do we make sure people work effectively, safely, and feel good at work? Work design, leadership, and organisational culture have all been found to have an impact on performance and other work outcomes.

One of the topics I am interested in in this context is human error, and how workers deal with human error. Traditionally errors are seen as negative occurrences that should be avoided. However, in many cases there is a difference between an error and its negative consequences, and as long as errors are detected and corrected in time, negative outcomes are avoided. A more modern take on errors is that they provide great learning opportunities, and can be beneficial for learning and performance overall.

Example research questions that would be of interest to explore through Honours or Masters research projects include:

  • Can we change worker’s error orientation through training?
  • What is the relation between error orientation and performance?
  • What factors have an impact on the transfer of error orientation training to work performance?
  • How can we design work to facilitate error management?

This can be explored at individual level, but also in team settings, including virtual teams (which has been the focus of previous honours projects).

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Associate Professor Shayne Loft

There are several honours projects available in the Human Factors and Applied Cognition (HFAC) Laboratory under the supervision of Shayne Loft.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Remembering to perform actions in the future
    Failure to perform intended actions is a common everyday human error. For example, we may make a mental note to attend a meeting, or phone friends about weekend activities, yet fail to remember to do so. Usually such failures are merely annoying. However, in workplace settings such as healthcare and air traffic control they can be fatal. Research is conducted in the HFAC lab to build an understanding of the cognitive processes that support prospective memory in both basic and applied experimental tasks.
  • Measuring Operator Situation Awareness
    The HFAC lab has ongoing research agreements with Australian and U.S Defence departments to develop situation awareness measurement tools and to test their reliability and validity in simulations of submarine control rooms and air traffic control. How do individuals maintain adequate awareness of their task environment, and how can display technology be designed to facilitate this awareness?
  • Task Automation
    With the explosion of automated technology, the need for humans as supervisors of complex automatic control systems has replaced the need for humans in direct manual control. The HFAC lab conducts experiments designed to compare different mechanisms of delivering automation that are optimal for the human operator (using simulations of real-word work contexts).

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W/Professor Colin Macleod

Clinical theorists have attributed emotional disorders to cognitive idiosyncrasies, while cognitive theorists have developed models which suggest that emotional states will be associated with pervasive information processing biases throughout the cognitive system. Both clinical and cognitive models predict the existence of processing biases favouring emotionally congruent information in attention and interpretation.

Current research carried out by our Cognition and Emotion Research group, within the School of Psychology’s Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion, uses cognitive-experimental paradigms to test such hypotheses, and focuses on several related questions including:

  • Which particular attentional and interpretive biases govern the expression of these biases?
  • How do the biases associated with emotional vulnerability change across the lifespan?
  • Which particular forms of processing selectivity characterise heightened, rather than compromised, levels of emotional resilience?
  • To what extent can these biased patterns of processing selectivity be intentionally controlled, and does restricted cognitive control capability elevate emotional vulnerability?

An overarching issue that pervades much of this work concerns identifying which cognitive biases causally contribute to which facets of emotional vulnerability. To address this issue we seek to determine how various manifestations of emotional vulnerability are influenced by directly manipulating differing aspects of selective information processing. Much of our work involves collaborations with research colleagues at other international universities, which at present include Harvard, Oxford, and the Universities of London, Ghent, Amsterdam, Exeter, Virginia and California.

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Professor Murray Maybery

Research in our Cognition, Autism and Neurodevelopment (CAN) lab has established that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterised by a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses in attention and visual cognition. We have also shown that these atypical patterns extend to the broader autism phenotype (BAP), i.e. to people from the nonclinical population who report high levels of mild autistic traits. Another set of studies has investigated the role of sex steroids in the development of ASD, with a masculinised facial structure associated the condition.

Currently we are investigating the following questions:

• What are the key dimensions of autistic traits (e.g. social difficulties, repetitive behaviours, sensory sensitivity, insistence on sameness) and do they have independent causes?
• Is hyper-masculinisation (e.g. as represented in the face or voice) linked to particular dimensions of autistic traits?
• Is autism characterised by atypical lateralisation of brain function for language, spatial attention or social cognition?
• Why do people report unfavourable first impressions of people with ASD?
• How do autistic traits relate to differences in empathy, alexithymia, intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety?
• Does impaired global processing or enhanced local processing drive differences in visuospatial ability between low and high autistic trait individuals?
• Is semantic satiation (the automatic suppression of repeated material) impaired as a function of autistic traits?

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Mr Neil McLean

My research interests span a range of areas within clinical psychology and human performance. Particular areas of interest include insomnia and the factors that influence sleep; attitudes towards psychological disorders such as depression and the impact of attitudes on help seeking; the impact of perfectionism on performance in sport and performing arts; the nature of ADHD and the validity of ADHD diagnosis; and the cognitive processes and social/cultural factors underlying disorders of appetite.

I am also interested in the factors the inhibit people from adopting and maintaining exercise and the psychological and cognitive benefits of exercise.

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Dr Lynden Miles

I am an experimental social psychologist with a broad range of interests concerning how we interact with others. A lot of my research is focussed on interpersonal coordination and how this helps (and sometimes hinders) our social lives. Recent and ongoing projects in this area include:

  • Understanding how, when, and why people coordinate their thoughts, feelings and behaviour with others.
  • What influence does mental health (e.g., social anxiety) have on people’s capacity to coordinate with others?
  • How do team members best coordinate their efforts to ensure optimal group performance.

In addition I am interested in the development of methods to measure behaviour in social contexts and the application of these approaches to better understand group-based activities.

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Dr Lies Notebaert

Models of anxiety disorders consistently implicate the role of low-level information processing biases in the development and maintenance of psychological dysfunction. These models particularly emphasise the roles of selective attention for threatening information and negative resolutions of ambiguity.

Current research carried out by our Cognition and Emotion Research group, within the School of Psychological Science’s Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion, uses cognitive-experimental paradigms to examine the role of these information processing biases, and focuses on several related questions including:

  • Which particular attentional and interpretive biases govern the expression of these emotions?
  • How do the biases associated with emotional vulnerability change across the lifespan?
  • How and why does the readiness with which individuals acquire certain patterns if information processing biases serve to predict changes in their anxiety vulnerability across time?
  • Which particular forms of processing selectivity characterise heightened, rather than compromised, levels of emotional resilience?
  • To what extent can these biased patterns of processing selectivity be intentionally controlled, and does restricted cognitive control capability elevate emotional vulnerability.
  • How can an understanding of selective attention and interpretation assist people to act in an adaptive way when faced with potential threat?

An overarching issue that pervades much of this work concerns identifying which cognitive biases causally contribute to which facets of emotional vulnerability. To address this issue we seek to determine how various manifestations of emotional vulnerability are influenced by directly manipulating differing aspects of selective information processing. In collaboration with the Bushfire CRC, a particularly pertinent research question concerns how this relation between emotional vulnerability and selective information processing contributes to adaptive or maladaptive behaviour when facing a chronic threat.

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Associate Professor Jeneva Ohan

My expertise is in child clinical psychology. Within this, I have two areas of major focus.

The first focus has been on understanding reasons why some children with social or emotional problems receive treatment for their difficulties, whereas others do not. We have many effective therapy options for children with mental health problems; however, less than half of parents with children who need these services will access services on their behalf. If we can find out why so many children are not accessing services, then we can begin to work to address access barriers in meaningful, effective ways. Much of my current work is examining the role that stigma about children with mental health problems plays in deterring parents from seeking care for their child.
This has led to an interest in the role that stigma plays in understanding the experience of children with mental health problems and their families. Not only must children and their families learn to cope with the child’s symptoms, but they also must deal with the social consequences (which may range from exclusion, ridicule, or derision to support and encouragement).  I have become very interested in these experiences and what this means for the overall adjustment of affected children and parents.

Secondly, I am interested in understanding how children’s social interactions (especially aggressive interactions) with their peers develop over time. Much of my work on this topic to date has focused on children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and how girls with ADHD relate to others. However, I am also interested in other social interactions between children and their peers or parents (such as awkward interactions or friendship-building skills), and how this develops over time.

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W/Professor Andrew Page

My interests concern the efficient and effective delivery of mental health services, the prediction and prevention of suicide and self-harm, and anxiety and depression. My research aims to improve treatments by understanding how therapies bring about their effects and the nature of the clinical conditions.

Specific research questions suitable for honours students include:

  • What increases suicide risk and how can this risk be reduced?
  • What thought processes cause psychological problems and how can we change them?
  • How does exposure to feared stimuli reduce anxiety?
  • How can we encourage clinical psychologists to make science-informed decisions?

Specific research questions suitable for doctoral and other graduate students include:

  • How can progress monitoring improve outcomes in mental health services?
  • How can suicide and self-harm be predicted and reduced?
  • How effective are treatments (such as CBT and ECT) for depression?

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Associate Professor Romina Palermo

My research aims to understand the perceptual, cognitive, and neural mechanisms underlying person perception. This often involves studying faces, as they provide information about the identity, age, sex, race, attractiveness and mood of other people, but also involves studying the perception of bodies and voices.

In addition to our work with typically developing children and adults, my lab also investigates person perception in children and adults with atypical development, psychopathology, or brain injury. This includes studies of developmental disorders affecting face processing (congenital/developmental prosopagnosia and autism); neuropsychological studies of people with brain injuries affecting face identity recognition (acquired prosopagnosia) and expression recognition (amygdala/orbitofrontal cortex lesions and Parkinson's); and investigations into psychopathology affecting person perception (social anxiety, callous-unemotional traits).

Please see the Person and Emotion Perception Lab (PEPLab) website for more details on recent Honours, PhD, and Clinical PhD projects.

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Associate Professor Carmela Pestell

As a practicing Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist I am very interested in clinical research, particularly related to the neuropsychology of neurodevelopmental disorders such as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and ADHD, and the relationship between cognitive impairment and poor sleep.

I am also involved in research related to concussion, acquired brain injury and cognitive rehabilitation in children and adults. For example, the Acquired Brain Injury: Recovery, Engagement, and Community Outcomes Via Evidence-based Rehabilitation (ABI-Recover) project represents a collaboration between the Brightwater Care Group and the University of WA (School of Psychology).

Our research team (which includes Dr Mike Weinborn and Professor Romola Bucks) is investigating how thinking such as memory influence our ability to make a simple cup of tea, or manage more complex tasks such as taking medications. This research will hopefully allow for a better understanding of prognosis following brain injury in adults, as well as provide information as to what skills are most important for everyday functioning and in what areas of a person's life.

Examples of other current research projects I am co-supervising include investigating the role of age, gender and parenting factors on neuropsychological outcome and post-concussion symptoms (collaborative project with PMH); neuropsychological outcomes in adult concussion (collaborative project with RPH); emotional dysregulation in young adults with ADHD: Implications in timing deficits, poor working memory and impairments in attention; understanding the impact of metacognition on functional and rehabilitation outcome in patients with acquired brain injury; time perception in ADHD; does enhancing cerebrovascular function via exercise improve cognition in the aging brain; and neuropsychological outcomes in preterm neonates (collaborative project with Telethon Kids/KEMH)

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Dr Melissa Ree

I am a clinical psychologist working in private practice as well as working as an academic at UWA. I have a particular experience and interest in treatment of insomnia and other sleep difficulties (such as circadian rhythm disturbance and improving adherence to CPAP). Research understanding psychological mechanisms maintaining sleep disturbance as well as improving interventions are my key research interests.

For example:

  • Improving sleep in elderly poor sleepers: effects on slowing cognitive decline.
  • Brief sleep health intervention in the university setting.
  • Biased cognition as a maintaining factor in insomnia.
  • Insomnia symptoms following brief medicinal cannabis: does long-short sleep duration and/or dysfunctional beliefs about sleep mediate results?
  • Does subjective or objective sleep duration play a bigger role in predicting mood disturbance and other daytime insomnia symptoms?
  • What are the key (modifiable) psychological processes that limit CPAP adherence for obstructive sleep apnea?
  • Can a brief psychological intervention enhance CPAP adherence?
  • Outcomes following sleep interventions in mental health populations.
  • Stepped-care models of CBT-Insomnia – self-help, supported self-help, group, and face-to-face individual treatment.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Mindfulness approaches in CBT-Insomnia.

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Dr Lisa Saulsman

As a clinical psychologist with many years of experience in cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) for adults with chronic depression and anxiety disorders, I am highly interested in clinically applied research regarding contemporary CBT practices.  Particularly, the use of imagery-based interventions to enhance CBT outcomes. This includes research questions such as:

  • Is cognitive restructuring conducted in the imagery modality of cognition more effective than traditional verbal methods?
  • Is metaphorical imagery superior to literal imagery in enhancing meaning and emotional change during cognitive restructuring?
  • Does imagery training enhance client engagement and the emotional impact of imagery-based interventions?
  • Does positive imagery or imaginal rehearsal enhance the engagement and impact of behavioural activation for depression? and
  • What are the key ingredients for effective imagery rescripting for reprocessing negative life events?

In addition, I am currently developing a simple transdiagnostic and transtherapeutic approach to improving mental health, which can be delivered at different levels of intensity (i.e., online intervention, group treatment, individual treatment).  Research investigating the effectiveness of this approach is high on my research interests.

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Dr Andrew Sheridan

As a practising Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist with a focus on Paediatrics and ADHD, my research interests are focused principally on conditions that affect cognitive, emotional, and behavioural development. Areas of special interest include:

  • ADHD, as well as attention and executive function development more generally
  • Sleep, and its relation to cognitive and emotional function
  • Congenital conditions affecting Neurocognitive development, including FASD
  • Acquired conditions affecting Neurocognitive development, including ABI
  • Emotions and behaviour, especially their interplay with Neurocognitive development

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Associate Professor Troy Visser

Our team of researchers at the Attention and Human Behaviour [atthub] Lab investigates the interface between key human cognitive abilities, like attention and multi-tasking, and behaviours across a variety of situations.  While we know a lot about these relationships in lab settings, we know much less about how these abilities differ across individuals and groups, or how these abilities influence everyday behaviours, like driving, or performance in specialized jobs, like the military or air-traffic control. 
Lab research themes
1. Humans can only pay attention to a limited amount of information. As a result, perception and cognition begin to fail when people try to do more than one thing at a time.  Our research tries to understand when and why these failures occur and how to reduce failures through cognitive training.

2. At an individual and group level, people vary in their abilities.  Our research looks at individual differences in multi-tasking ability, as well as perceptual and cognitive advantages that tend to be found in groups, such as those with autism or autistic-like traits.

3. Even everyday activities, such as driving, can place significant demands on our cognitive resources. Our research looks at how cognitive demands influence a variety of human behaviours, using simulated environments such as motor vehicle operation, air-traffic control, and submarine track management.

If you think you might like to explore any of these kinds of topics for your honours thesis, please contact Troy @

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Dr Serena Wee

I am interested in the practical problem of how to design effective and equitable selection systems. My research focuses on how individual differences relate to individual and group-level outcomes:

  • What kind of hiring practices promote the recruitment and selection of a diverse and high-performing group of workers?
  • What is the role of ability, interest, and personality in developing work-related skill and expertise?
  • What can be done to encourage and support the workforce participation of individuals from minority/marginalised groups (e.g., women, mature workers)?

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Dr Michael Weinborn

My current research interests are focused on prospective memory functions in healthy aging, as well as in a number of clinical groups (e.g., individuals with substance abuse and depression). A particular interest is the linkage of laboratory measures of prospective memory and other executive functions to aspects of day-to-day functions, including medication management. Additionally, assessment of symptom validity in neuropsychological assessment is an ongoing research interest.

Specific projects likely for next year include:

  • evaluation of aspects of prospective memory in healthy aging, depressed and high-risk alcohol using groups;
  • assessment of the effects of induced alcohol craving on laboratory measures of decision making and risk taking in individuals with high reward sensitivity
  • evaluation of cognitive load manipulations in the assessment of neuropsychological symptom validity tests.

I can be contacted at or 6488 1739 to discuss potential research supervision.

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