Speaker: Professor Brent Vogt

Title: Cingulate Neurobiology: Region and Subregion Models

Date: Tuesday November 24, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


All neurobiology begins with anatomical localization(s). The designation of an area, region or subregion declares that functional differences exist even before functional studies are initiated. While the Brodmann map of 1909 is recognized for its various deficiencies, functional imaging research continues to rely on this early, pre-neurobiological view of cingulate cortex with its anterior and posterior cortices (ACC and PCC) that are ensconced as “labels” for structural and functional studies. One of its greatest deficiencies is the lack of a vast midcingulate region (MCC) between ACC and PCC. We will explore the cytoarchitectural, connectional, ligand binding and functional rationale for distinguishing MCC from its adjacent regions. The key feature of MCC is its motor output system to the spinal cord from the cingulate premotor areas that engage in feedback-mediated decision making. This contrasts with ACC which is engaged in autonomic regulation and emotional activations and PCC that is engaged in spatial orientation in multisensory spaces and personally relevant contexts. Each of the four regions (including retrosplenial cortex; RSC) are not homogeneous; i.e., they each are comprised of two subregions for a total of eight which emerge from anatomical and functional analyses. These subregions are not simply “labels” but rather models of structure/function entities. The predictive validity of such models will be evaluated by the extent to which particular psychiatric disorders and drug therapeutics impact each subregion; in depression for ACC, migraine, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and Tourette syndrome for aMCC, progressive supranuclear palsy, unipolar depression and PTSD for pMCC and Alzheimer’s disease for PCC. Further, methylphenidate, Ibuprofen, and ketamine have unique actions in aMCC that suggest mechanisms for actions in ADHD and pain control. Thus, the 8 subregion models of cingulate cortex have been extensively validated with modern imaging techniques and should be a part of all studies of cingulate cortex. 

About the Speaker:

Dr. Vogt received his B.A. cum laude from Northeastern University and has worked at the Harvard Neurological Unit where he published a seminal article on limbic pain circuitry. He received a Ph.D. at BUSM in 1979 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in neurophysiology at the same school. He currently holds faculty appointments at the Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine (Jülich, Germany) and the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at BUSM. Dr. Vogt is the founder of Cingulum Neurosciences Institute, which is dedicated to exploring the structure, functions and diseases of cingulate cortex. He published the highly acclaimed Cingulate Neurobiology and Disease in 2009 (Oxford University Press) and has published seminal articles on the circuitry and role of cingulate cortex in chronic pain, placebo, hypnosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and mild cognitive impairment. 




Speaker: A/P Murray Maybery

Title: Continuity along the Autism Spectrum in Perceptual and Biological Markers

Date: Thursday 19 November, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Substantial research effort has been invested in identifying a unique cognitive or perceptual profile for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A potential application of this work is in identifying early neurocognitive markers for the disorder, with potential biological markers also under intense investigation. Our research at UWA has combined investigations of children with ASD with investigations that compare groups of young adults screened for high versus low levels of mild autistic-like traits. These two lines of research provide evidence that children with ASD and adults with high levels of autistic-like traits share a profile characterized by an advantage in low-level visual search processes but a disadvantage in visual integration. Other work from our group provides preliminary evidence that physical features may also provide subtle markers for autism.  In particular, evidence from studies of clinical groups and from groups on the broader spectrum converge in suggesting that autism is characterized by the masculinization of facial features.

About the Speaker:

Murray Maybery (PhD, University of Queensland) is Head of the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia, ranked 27th in the world for Psychology in the QS University Rankings.  A/Prof Maybery has published 140 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters, which have been cited more than 4,200 times. His research spans work on typical cognition in adults and children to research on atypical cognition and perception in special populations such as individuals affected by schizophrenia or autism. The influence of hormones on the development of autistic traits is also under investigation. Current work by A/Prof Maybery’s research team is funded by the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Autism Cooperative Research Centre.

For more information please see and 




Speaker: Dr. Kim Say Young

 Title: How does language distance between first language (L1) and second language (L2) affect the L2 brain network? An fMRI study of Korean-Chinese-English trilinguals

Date: Wednesday 11 November, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


The present study tested the hypothesis that language distance between first language (L1) and second language (L2) influences the assimilation and accommodation pattern in Korean-Chinese-English trilinguals. The distance between English and Korean is smaller than that between Chinese and Korean in terms of orthographic transparency, because both English and Korean are alphabetic, whereas Chinese is logographic. During fMRI, Korean trilingual participants performed a visual rhyming judgment task in three languages (Korean, Chinese, and English). Two L1 control groups were native Chinese and English speakers performing the task in their native languages. The results suggest that the brain network involved in L2 reading is similar to the L1 network when L2 and L1 are similar in orthographic transparency, while significant accommodation is expected when L2 is more opaque than L1.

About the Speaker:

Say Young is a postdoctoral fellow working with Drs. Winston Goh and Melvin Yap. He completed his PhD at the University of Maryland, College Park (USA). In his graduate and post-doctoral careers, he has conducted several lines of research regarding language processing and second language learning using both behavioral and neuroscience methodology (fMRI and ERPs).

New book by A/P Konstadina Griva “Caregiving in the Illness Context”


A/P Konstadina Griva’s book “Caregiving in the Illness Context”, which she co-authored with international colleagues,  has just been published by Palgrave Pivot. A description of the book is provided below; click on this link for more details.

With more and more people of all ages living with chronic illnesses, greater numbers of family and friends become caregivers. A major focus of health professionals and scientists is to maximize quality of life among those living with illness and those caring for them. As health care systems around the world become limited in what people can afford, informal supports – primarily family and close friends – are being called on to care for ill people. Yet, the task of providing care takes a toll on caregivers’ health and well-being, including depression, social and family strains, increased physical illness, and diminished quality of life. Caregiving in the Illness Context synthesizes current research and brings attention to how personal, social and structural factors affect caregivers and how the research literature has informed emerging interventions to help caregivers.



Speaker: Prof Norbert Schwarz

Title: Embodiment in judgment and decision making: Of fishy smells, dirty hands, and sticky luck

Date: Thursday October 29, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Recent psychological research shows that complex cognitive processes are grounded in evolutionarily older sensory processes in ways that are often reflected in metaphors. As a result, incidental sensory experiences can profoundly affect judgment and decision making. For example, incidental fishy smells can undermine trust, reduce investment in economic cooperation games, and improve critical reasoning; conversely, socially induced suspicion enhances the sensory perception of fishy smells. Moral transgressions leave a “dirty” feeling and induce a desire to clean; conversely, physical cleansings can remove traces of the past, metaphorically “wiping the slate clean”. Cleaning one’s hands with an antiseptic wipe (but not a moisturizing wipe) can metaphorically remove those traces, resulting in less doubt about past decisions; reduced cognitive dissonance; less influence of recent streaks of good or bad luck on current risk taking; and a reduced impact of sunk cost. I review select findings from my lab and discuss their implications for the conceptualization of decision processes.

About the Speaker:

Professor Norbert Schwarz is Provost Professor of Psychology and Marketing at University of Southern California. His research explores how people make sense of the world in which they live and how their decisions are shaped by subtle contextual influences. His theoretical approach emphasizes the socially situated and embodied nature of cognition and the role of feelings and subjective experiences in judgment and decision making, in different domains, including public opinion, consumer behavior, well-being, and the psychology of self-report. He has won numerous awards in an outstanding career that spans more than three decades, including the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the German Department of Science and Education for early career contributions; the Wilhelm Wundt-William James Award of the American Psychological Foundation and European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations; the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology; and the Donald T. Campbell Award of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. His publications include 20 books and some 400 journal articles and chapters, which have been cited more than 52,000 times (H = 105, Google Scholar, June 2015).



Speaker: Prof Elena Nicoladis

Title: Do bilinguals think differently to speak their two languages?

Date: Wednesday October 28, 4pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Most researchers assume that bilinguals have a single common conceptual store that can be accessed by either language. I present the results of two studies that challenge that assumption. In the first study, we asked Chinese-English bilingual children to generate as many examples of animals, clothes, and food/drinks as they could, once in each language. If the children were accessing a common store, we expected a lot of overlap in the animal and clothes words they generated. In fact, we found very little overlap. In the second study, we asked Mandarin-English bilingual adults to act out near-synonyms of “throw” in both of their languages. The results showed that they had language-specific concepts of “throw” verbs, with little effect of their other language. The results of both studies suggest that the bilinguals were accessing language-specific concepts. Possible reasons that the results of these studies seem to contradict those of many previous studies will be discussed.

About the Speaker:

Elena Nicoladis is a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Alberta in Canada. Her research focuses on bilingual children’s language and thought, as well as gesture use across cultures, languages, and ages.



Speaker: Dr. Sue Sherman

Title: Exploring the processes behind false memories using novel stimuli and mindfulness

Date: Thursday October 22, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


False memories can be created for words using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm in which participants are presented with a list of words such as bed, wake, night, dream etc. When participants complete a subsequent memory task they have a similar number of false memories for the related but non-presented word ‘sleep’ as they have correct memories for the presented list items. Over time, false memories typically persist more than correct memories. The false memory effect can also be extended to more content-rich stimuli such as brand names and famous faces. These stimuli have the potential to shed additional light on the processes underlying false memories. For example, false memories created using these content-rich stimuli not only persist over time but actually increase, posing challenges for existing theories of false memory. These theories can be further explored using the increasingly popular technique of mindfulness. For example, when participants are mindful prior to studying the DRM lists, false memories decrease. Whilst this appears to be consistent with existing theories, mindfulness presents us with a way to tease out additional details of the theories. 

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sue Sherman is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Psychology at Keele University in the UK. She is also the Chair of the British Psychological Society (BPS) Cognitive Section and a member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS). Sue has a multidisciplinary background (BSc (Hons) in Computational Linguistics, MA in Psycholinguistics, PhD in Cognitive Psychology) and currently focuses on 2 main research areas. The first, which is the subject of her talk, is false memory. The second concerns public awareness and understanding of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer and this research has recently received national and international media coverage. 



Speaker: Dr. Ryan Hong

 Title: A common core vulnerability to emotional disorders

Date: Thursday October 15, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Cognitive theories of emotional disorders posit that maladaptive patterns of cognitions confer elevated risks to individuals in the development of anxiety and mood symptoms.  Several distinct cognitive vulnerabilities have been identified – some postulated to predict depression (i.e., pessimistic inferential style, dysfunctional attitudes, and ruminative style) while others different forms of anxiety (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, intolerance of uncertainty, and fear of negative evaluation).  The crucial question of whether these supposedly distinct risk factors share common transdiagnostic elements was addressed using meta-analytic confirmatory factor analysis.  Results indicated a common core vulnerability factor underlying these variables in adults.  A developmental perspective was also taken to examine the validity of a common core vulnerability in children age 8-11 years (N = 302) in a longitudinal design.  Latent class growth analysis identified 4 distinct classes of trajectories – Low-Increasing (14%), Moderate-Stable (52%), High-Decreasing (19%), and High-Increasing (15%).  These trajectories were differentiated in terms of outcomes and developmental origins.  Overall, these findings provide novel evidence for a transdiagnostic core vulnerability that bears directly on the etiology and treatment of emotional disorders.  

About the Speaker:

 After receiving his honors (1999) and masters (2002) degrees in psychology from the National University of Singapore, Dr. Hong had a short stint at the Department of Psychology as a teaching assistant (2001-2003).  He then worked with Professor Sampo Paunonen at the University of Western Ontario before obtaining his Ph.D. in personality psychology in 2007.  Broadly speaking, Dr. Hong’s research interests include personality and its assessment (e.g., the Big Five), psychopathology (e.g., mood, anxiety, and disinhibitory disorders), and the interface between these two areas.

Dr. Hong is particularly interested in delineating personality vulnerabilities to psychopathology using dispositional-trait and social-cognitive perspectives of personality.  One domain of research he is currently working on is to explore linkages between broad dispositional traits (e.g., Neuroticism and Conscientiousness) and specific social-cognitive vulnerabilities to common psychopathology (e.g., depressogenic inferential style, ruminative style, anxiety sensitivity, poor self control/regulation).  It is hoped that through this research, current understanding regarding the etiology and development of psychopathology may be enhanced.



Speaker: Mabel Lau

Title: Free Recall and Recognition Memory Estimates for 532 Concrete Nouns

Date: Thursday October 8, 12-1 pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


The successful retrieval of words is likely to be intricately linked to their lexical and semantic properties. As such, variations in these properties determine how the word is encoded, stored, and retrieved. We collected both recall and recognition memory estimates for 532 concrete nouns (McRae, Cree, Seidenberg, & McNorgan, 2005) using the megastudy approach and demonstrated the validity of the data. Collecting memory estimates using this approach allows researchers to move away from the constraints of factorial designs. This resource could be used to carry out more fine-grained investigations on lexical-semantic influences on memory or to test new hypotheses. Two uses of this dataset were illustrated. First, we regressed recall and recognition performance on a number of lexical-semantic variables. In free recall, these accounted for 26.0% of the variance, while in recognition they accounted for 32.3% of the variance in hit rates, 16.5% of the variance in false alarm rates, and 35.0% of the variance in d’. Second, we used our data to determine whether the number of semantic features effect in free recall (Hargreaves, Pexman, Johnson, & Zdrazilova, 2012) could be replicated using our free recall dataset. Consistent with Hargreaves et al.’s findings, words with higher number of features were better recalled as compared to words with fewer number of features. 

About the Speaker:

 Mabel Lau is a Masters candidate pursuing her M.Soc.Sci at the Department of Psychology at NUS under the supervision of Dr Winston Goh. Her main research examines the interplay between memory and language.

Guest Speaker Dr. Bo Yao from the University of Manchester 7 Oct, 1-2:30


Speaker: Dr. Bo Yao

Title: Inner Voice Experiences in Processing of Direct and Indirect Speech

Date: Wednesday 7 October, 1-2:30 pm

Venue: Seminar Room B – AS7-01-17 (Shaw Building)


In verbal communication, direct speech (e.g., Mary said: “I love this dress!”) provides vivid depictions of the reported speaker’s voice whereas indirect speech (e.g., Mary said [that] she loved that dress) provides mere descriptions of what was said. In silent reading, however, the representational consequences of this vividness distinction remain unclear. Although many of us share the intuition of an “inner voice”, particularly during silent reading of direct speech quotations, there has been little empirical confirmation of this experience so far. Using speech analysis, brain imaging and eye tracking, we show that readers (with normal hearing) spontaneously engage in mental simulations of audible-speech like representations (or to hear an “inner voice”) during silent reading of direct speech, and to a much lesser extent during silent reading of indirect speech. In contrast, deaf readers do not appear to mentally distinguish between direct and indirect speech in silent reading. The implications of our results are discussed in relation to grounded cognition and the implicit prosody hypothesis. 

About the Speaker:

Dr Bo Yao is a lecturer at School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK. He received his BSc in Biology from Xiamen University, China in 2008, followed by his PhD in Psychology from the University of Glasgow, UK in 2012 working with Professor Pascal Belin and Dr Christoph Scheepers. He then worked as a research fellow at the University of Kent before joining the University of Manchester as a lecturer in 2013. His research interest lies in neuroscience and psychology of language and communication. His recent work focused on inner speech using a combination of acoustic analysis, eye tracking, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) methods. Outside work, he organises Café Scientifique talks in the Manchester area and an is active participant in science communication.


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