Cognitive and Biological Psychology

Cognitive Psychology is a wide-reaching area of psychology, closely aligned with Biological Psychology and Neuroscience, which focuses on the scientific study of thinking, behaviour and performance. More specifically, cognitive psychology can be categorised into three major areas that we like to refer to as stages of cognition:

  • Stage 1: how we attend to and extract information from the external environment (e.g., perception and attention)
  • Stage 2: how we store, maintain and process information within the brain (e.g., short and long term memory)
  • Stage 3: how we make use of information (stored in the brain and available externally) for activities such as: problem solving, reasoning, decision making, judgement, and formulating and learning language.

Biological Psychology is closely aligned to Cognitive Psychology and is concerned with exploring the biological underpinnings of the behaviour (typical and atypical) of humans and animals. It is sometimes known as Behavioural Neuroscience particularly by those interested in understanding the structure and workings of the brain and by those who use brain scanning and imagining techniques and technologies to explore the relationships between the brain and behaviour.


Group research interests

Our research interests within the group are very much focussed on applied cognitive and biological psychology, although much of our work also has a strong theoretical underpinning. Example research areas include:

  • Investigating the negative effects of interruptions on task performance and developing methods to mitigate these effects;
  • Investigating the temporal aspects of computer-based communications when judging causality and probability, and, children’s reasoning about cause and effect (including reasoning about road crossing and traffic behaviour);
  • The perceptual-motor capabilities of children and adults with significant motor coordination difficulties in natural contexts (such as road crossing);
  • Implications of evidence for embodied cognition on accounts of cognitive architecture;
  • Prospective memory performance in adults, the development of prospective memory in children, and supporting prospective memory in older age;
  • Investigating the picture superiority effect in memory for e-commerce websites;
  • Cognitive deficits associated with mental health problems, and, brain damage and effects on cognitive abilities.

Current Research includes:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, conducted by Dr Marie Thomas


Academic Staff

PhD Students

  • Janet Mundy (year 1, supervised by Dr Phillip Morgan & Prof Amanda Kirby): Methods to encourage optimal cognitive strategy selection and usage to alleviate individual differences in performance on mental rotation and verbal ability tasks
  • Phillip Hartland (starting Jan 2014, supervised by Dr Phillip Morgan and Dr Martin Graff): It’s about being in the right frame of mind: The role of self regulation on the performance of seemingly simple yet complex and seemingly complex yet simple cognitive tasks
  • Andrea Mahoney (supervised by Dr Janet Pitmann): Perceptual / cognitive biases and belief ideologies: experimental and EEG measures

We welcome applications for PhD study from outstanding individuals with a proven passion for quality research within areas of cognitive (including Human Factors) and/or biological psychology. A good undergraduate hons degree in Psychology or related discipline would be essential and a related MA/MSc qualification and/or relevant research experience would be advantageous.