Research highlights

A selection of current and recent research projects in psychology

Conversational alignment in children with an Autistic Spectrum Condition and typically developing children

Professor Holly Branigan (Principal Investigator), ESRC Standard Grant c. £427k, 2017 - 2020

Examining how and whether children with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) align their speech: the tendency to imitate the grammar and choice of words of the person we are talking to is a robust phenomenon that seems to promote effective communication and satisfying interactions. This project will investigate whether children with ASC show disrupted patterns of alignment and whether this explains why and under what circumstances they find communication difficult.

The development of lexical flexibility

Dr Hugh Rabagliati (Principal Investigator), ESRC-SBE c. £331k, 2016 - 2019

Investigating how children learn to master the flexibility, ambiguity, and creativity of language: this project will study how children learn to use language systems in which the same sound can have multiple different meanings.

The Disconnected Mind

Professor Ian Deary (Principal Investigator), Age UK c. £7.2mn, 2007 - 2022

Investigating how our thinking skills change with age, and what we can do to preserve them: this project uses data from the Lothian Birth Cohort (1936) to understand why some people age differently than others. A major aim of the project is to evaluate how the brain's white matter changes with age, and how these changes are related to cognitive decline. 

The Disconnected Mind

Supporting cognitive and academic development in children at risk

Dr Nicolas Chevalier (Principal Investigator),  ESRC Open Research Area c. £403k, 2016 - 2020

Developing executive function training in children from vulnerable backgrounds: executive function is the ability to regulate thoughts and actions. The project will investigate executive function training programmes in children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, with an emphasis on transfer to academic abilities.

Underspecification in spoken and written discourse: interpretation, compensation and cognitive implications

Professor Martin Pickering (Principal Investigator), EU government bodies c. €190k, 2019 - 2021

Exploring the imprecise use of words to express meanings: this project investigates how underspecification explains the variable use of three French discourse markers and their English equivalents, namely "et" / "and", "mais" / "but" and "donc" / "so".

Underspecification in spoken and written discourse: interpretation, compensation and cognitive implications

Variety is the spice of love: promoting partner responsiveness within the relationship ecosystem

Dr Sarah Stanton (Principal Investigator), ESRC New Investigators Award c. £300k, 2019 - 2022

How different ways of responsiveness can support healthy relationships: this project investigates the diversity of responsiveness (i.e. the variety of ways in which romantic partners care for, understand, and validate each other) and its contribution to well-being. The project looks at responsiveness over time and explores potential interventions to promote diverse responsiveness between partners.

Hand-eye coordination in mild cognitive impairment

Professor Rob McIntosh (Principal Investigator), Dunhill Medical Trust c. £58k, 2019 - 2020

Assessing misreaching for objects in Alzheimer's disease: The aim of this study is to assess the coordination of reaching movements in people who have had some changes in memory function. This will help us to build a better overall picture of what the early signs of dementia might be. 

Hand-eye coordination in mild cognitive impairment

Working memory across the lifespan: an adversarial collaboration

Professor Robert Logie (Principal Investigator), ESRC Standard Grant c. £1.15mn, 2016 - 2020

Bringing together three research groups with different theories of how and why working memory changes with age: this project will see scientists who disagree with one another, working together to gain an insight into whether all of working memory declines with age, or whether some aspects remain largely intact.

Working memory across the adult lifespan: an adversarial collaboration