Neuroscience and Neurocognition
We research how humans understand and process the world around them, with particular strength in investigating the neurocognitive mechanisms of perception, action, language, multisensory integration, and cognition.
Effects of music instrument lessons on brain plasticity, mood, and quality of life in Alzheimer patients
01/04/2017 → 31/03/2021
Flexible and Habitual Mechanisms of Human Navigation
01/04/2016 → 31/03/2019
If it Looks Like a Duck: Emergent Categorical Structure in the Human Conceptual System
01/04/2016 → 31/10/2018
The effects of age on temporal coding in the auditory system
01/05/2015 → 28/02/2019
MODEM - Monitoring of Dementia using Eye Movements
31/03/2015 → 31/03/2019
UHMBT Studentship: Cognitive Dysfunction and Early Dementia in Chronic Kidney Disease
01/10/2014 → 30/09/2015
Exploring the Characteristics of Imitation - Parkinson's Disease
31/03/2014 → 30/01/2017
Advanced eye-tracker for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease
01/08/2013 → 31/07/2014
Replicating WIlliams and Bargh
01/07/2013 → 30/06/2014
Speaking with your hands in Parkinson’s: the role of co-speech gestures in communication
03/09/2012 → 31/08/2015
We conduct world-leading research to elucidate neurocognitive, behavioural, and perceptual processes across the lifespan, in neurotypical and clinical populations. We are interested in how such processes function both on an individual level, as well as when interacting with others ‘brain-to-brain’.
As well as a multidisciplinary and vibrant research culture, we have an excellent research environment with a rich source of the latest technologies for examining neurocognition including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS: Deymed Diagnostic, single and high frequency repetitive stimulators), with Brainsight neuronavigation software), Multi-channel Transcranial electrical brain stimulation (MtES: Neuroelectrics), several Electroencephalography setups (EEG) including for infants and young children (EGI), functional Near-Infrared Red Spectroscopy, eye-trackers, Virtual Reality Suites, Computational Neuroscience facilities, Biophysics, sound-proof Auditory laboratories, and functional Transcranial Doppler. Research equipment is shared collegially across research groups, which also serves to foster innovation and new thinking across research specialisations.
As well as academic impact, our work has real-world applicability with relevance to understanding brain health and behaviour in translational neuroscience and social care sectors relating to mental health, physical health, sensory function, as well as education and sports settings. We are proud to engage with the public and our community partners in and around Lancashire and the North West of England, as well as diverse national and international stakeholders.
We are funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), as well as industry and charitable institutions such as The Leverhulme Trust and the BIAL Foundation.
Neuroscience of Speech & Action Laboratory
Dr Helen Nuttall
Research in the laboratory focuses primarily on investigating the neural bases of speech communication. We are interested in studying how normal brains communicate, and also what goes wrong in the brains of people with speech and language impairments.
To study this, we focus on the entire auditory pathway, from the ear to the auditory cortex, and beyond. We look at how auditory areas of the brain interact with other, non-auditory areas of the brain, to help us understand the neurobiological network that subserves speech perception, and how the network adapts depending on the situational context. Some questions that we are currently researching include: How do sensory and motor brain areas interact during speech perception? How do descending auditory projections influence low-level speech perception? How can we use information about the ear and the brain to detect communication difficulties and help to restore them?Neuroscience of Speech & Action website
Aberrant Experience, Awareness and Emotion Laboratory
Dr Jason J Braithwaite
Our research examines the neurocognitive correlates underlying disorders in consciousness such as hallucinations, delusions and perceptual distortions. Examples include breakdowns in multisensory integration underpinning the out-of-body experience (OBE) and associated disorders in body-image / perception, dissociative experiences, the aberrant experiences associated with depersonalisation/derealisation, and emotional disorders. These striking experiences are explored in non-clinical populations as well as patient groups. Overarching theoretical accounts currently being explored include theories on the role of cortical hyperexcitability underlying aberrant perceptions, Predictive coding and Disconnection accounts of failures in multisensory integration, and models of interoceptive-awareness underlying the sense of ‘presence’ in self-consciousness.Aberrant Experience, Awareness and Emotion web page
Action Observation and Motor Imagery Laboratory
Dr Stefan Vogt
Our research focuses on the interplay between observing, imagining, and performing bodily actions, and we employ both neuroimaging and behavioural methods. For example, we explore the (clearly dissociable) neural substrates of imitation learning of spatial sequences and rhythms. On a theoretical level, we have recently proposed a novel interpretation of previous research on the human mirror neuron system, namely in terms of motor imagery during action observation (Vogt et al., 2013). Supporting evidence for this account comes from a growing number of studies, including behavioural and EEG studies from our group. In addition, we investigate the effects of action observation combined with motor imagery on learning by observing, e.g. learning cheerleading postures and learning guitar chords.
Hearing Research Laboratory
Professor Chris Plack
We use a combination of listening tests and EEG measures to investigate how sounds are processed by the auditory brain. We are particularly interested in how neural coding and hearing ability deteriorate with age. We are also interested in the effects of auditory training on the neural coding of musical pitch. Finally, in a collaboration with Roger Bucknall of Fylde Guitars, we are studying how the different woods used in construction affect the perceived sound quality of acoustic guitars.Hearing Research website
Sir John Fisher Eye Movement Research Laboratory
Dr Trevor Crawford
Our neuropsychological research is primarily targeted on age-related disorders, in particular, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease and Schizophrenia.
A major focus is to improve our understanding of the core cognitive features and developing new biological markers that will help doctors to improve their diagnosis of these disorders. We are working to discover an early cognitive marker of the disease and to track the changes in relation to the severity of the illness. If we are successful this will enable new treatments to be targeted at an early stage in the course of the disease. We have dedicated research laboratories at Lancaster University and an extensive network of collaborating hospitals and research centres in the north-west and nationally. This research network includes research assistants, clinical psychologists, consultant neurologists, psychiatrists, radiologists and neuropsychologists at Lancaster University and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.Eye Movement Research Laboratory website
Language, Inner Speech, and Neuroscience (LISN) Lab
Dr Bo Yao
Our research at the LISN Lab delves into the intricate relationship between language, inner speech, and the brain to unlock the unique mechanisms that make us human. We aim to decode the dialogues of the mind by investigating the neurocognitive mechanisms that shape our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions. Employing a rich array of cutting-edge methodologies - from EEG and fMRI to eye tracking and machine learning - we provide comprehensive insights into the neural and cognitive processes underpinning language and thought. For example, we investigate how concepts and language structure shape the way we think, understand the types and roles of inner speech in cognition and the sense of self, and explore the spectrum of voice hearing from benign experiences to distressing auditory verbal hallucinations. Our research seeks to deepen theoretical understanding and has the potential for various practical applications, from informing educational strategies for reading development and creating neurocognitive assessments and early diagnostic tools for voice hearing.Language, Inner Speech, and Neuroscience (LISN) Lab
Paediatric, Listening, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory
Dr Hannah Stewart
At the PELICAN Lab we study everyday hearing and listening in children. We work alongside the Lancaster University Babylab and have a dedicated paediatric auditory laboratory. We are currently working with primary school-aged children with normal hearing, hearing impairment and/or developmental disorders. To understand the underlying mechanisms of speech and non-speech listening we use behavioural and neuroimaging techniques alongside VR. We are especially interested in how children’s brains adapt to noisy environments and to using auditory technology, such as hearing aids.PELICAN website