The Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL) conducts research that falls into the broad area of Cognitive and affective Neuroscience - it examines the neural basis of human cognitive, affective and perceptual processes in healthy individuals, changes associated with ageing and in a variety of disorders, with a focus on schizophrenia and psychosis. Our research facilities permit studies using EEG, fMRI and a broad range of neuropsychological psychometric tests. In addition, the laboratory has access to MEG facilities based at KIT-Macquarie University Brain Research Laboratory. The FNL is one facility within the School of Psychology. It forms part of the Priority Research Centre in Brain and Mental Health and affiliated with the Hunter Medical Research Institute. The FNL has close collaborative links with the Schizophrenia Research Institute (formerly known as NISAD - Neuroscience Institute for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders).
The Laboratory of Neuroimmunology is located in the Psychology department and is run by A/Prof Deborah Hodgson. The research focus of the laboratory currently is the role of early life events in programming development. Perinatal programming occurs when non-genetic factors act on the mother or fetus to cause permanent alterations to the normal physiological development of the fetus. The laboratory maintains research collaborative efforts with the Mother and Baby Research Centre and the Centre for Brain and Mental Health at the University of Newcastle. The laboratory also has international collaborations in the USA with The University of California, Los Angeles, The John Hopkins University, Baltimore and The University of Wisconsin, Madison, and in the Netherlands with The University of Utrecht.
The Memory and Cognitive Development group is currently conducting research on the relationship between working memory, processing speed and intelligence during childhood, the development of source monitoring in children, and the development of executive functioning in children and adolescents. A project on the effects of iron deficiency on cognition in women of childbearing age is currently in progress.
The primary aim of the NCL is the experimental investigation of human attention, memory, and learning. Our emphasis is on nonlinear modeling of individual subjects. Nonlinear behaviour raises difficult measurement and modeling issues. For example, the common practice of averaging over subjects can be misleading when behaviour is nonlinear. An archive of individual data can be found in the Data Repository. Our aim is to apply modern mathematical and computational techniques to accurately model the individual and test psychological theories. The software we have developed can be found in the Software Repository.
The Personality Research group is currently developing a model of adaptive/ maladaptive interpersonal traits - determining the predictive validity of intelligence, values and personality variables in the selection of medical students, examining the relationships between personality, emotions and psychiatric symptoms, and exploring the measurement and predictive potential of actual vs. ideal values. The Personal Qualities Assessment test developed by the personality laboratory is being used commercially to select applicants to medicine and allied health programs in Australia, the UK, Sweden and Canada.
The social psychology laboratory focuses on the social psychological processes that influence how people relate and respond to social groups and their members. This group's research projects use both experimental and correlational designs to investigate social group phenomena such as social discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping, and social identity development. The laboratory consists of fully equipped suite of three research rooms in the Behavioural Sciences Building at the Callaghan Campus to carry out dyadic and small group studies, computer-based and psycho-physiological recordings. We also conduct our research studies in the field, including the use of internet-based studies.
The Spatial Cognition Research group are developing a psychometric test of 3D understanding to measure spatial ability in a design context and 3D learning tasks to improve 3D understanding. Of special interest is poor performance and gender bias. This research is funded under a national grant provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).