Professor John Towse


Research Interests

My work spans a number of research topics. Here is an overview of some of projects I have been involved with

Working memory

Working memory refers to the active maintenance of transient information. We know that working memory is very important, for children's development and for adult cognitive skills. Tasks that measure working memory are often very good at predicting mathematics, reading, comprhension processes and so on. My research has attempted to document the relations between working memory and cognition, as well as develop more complete theoretical accounts of how working memory processes unfold.

Executive functions

Executive functions relate the the effective regulation of behaviours towards goals, targets, cognitions and responses. Executive functions form a complex interrelated set of behaviours. So it is important to understand how regulation takes place, the limits and the opportunities that they provide.

Mathematical cognition

Several research projects attempt to understand how children's understanding of mathematics concepts and mathematics processes unfold. We explore how education and cognitive development impact on the important domain of mathematics.


Online environments are increasingly ubiquitous; we communicate through email, we browse websites, we live our lives through social media, etc. This presents cognitive systems with great challenges. We interact with complex systems involving many -sometimes unknown - permuations and consequences, and we are required to trust individuals and systems despite sometimes scanty evidence to justify this. We seek to understand how cognitive decisions interact with computer systems, devices and expectations.

Human Dimensions of Cyber Security

I am a member of the EPSRC project team examining why security isn't a stronger feature of software development.

Security Lancaster, Security Lancaster (Software Security)

  • Cyber Security Research Centre (Psychology)
  • Language and Cognition
  • Security Lancaster
  • Security Lancaster (Academic Centre of Excellence)
  • Security Lancaster (Behavioural Science)