Seminar SeriesPsychology Research Seminars - Spring 2022

The School of Psychological Sciences & Health are delighted to announce their upcoming seminar series for Spring 2022, beginning on January 26th.

January 26, 1-2PM
Professor Carolyn Mcgettigan, University College London
Perceiving and representing voice identity: effects of talker variability and lister familiarity

Abstract: A talker can sound quite different from one occasion to the next, and this has implications for the ease with which listeners can recognise that person from their voice alone. However, until relatively recently, natural within-talker variability was almost entirely overlooked in studies of voice identity perception. In this talk, I will present our work that has addressed how within-talker variability impacts voice identity perception, and how performance is affected by familiarity (e.g. with the talkers themselves, their accent, the language being spoken). Our approaches have included different perceptual paradigms (sorting, recognition, discrimination), manipulations of voice acoustics (e.g. F0 and formant spacing), and interrogation of the neural responses to natural stimulation (using multivariate analysis of fMRI data). I hope to convince the audience of the importance of including naturalistic variability in our studies of (speech and) voice processing, and will conclude by presenting some key questions for future research in this area.

February 2, 1-2PM
Professor Louise Phillips, University of Aberdeen
Adult age differences in interpreting social cues

Abstract: This talk examines the early embodied nature of psychological development in infancy, and the role of the neuromotor system as an active generator of conscious experience, made in agentive affective engagement with caring and sensitive social others. The significance of this early embodied agency sheds light on how meaning is co-created between individuals in expressive actions that share a common narrative organisation ubiquitous in the human time-based arts of poetry, music, drama, and literature. It structures human cognition and knowledge, underneath and before verbal language. In autism, new evidence reveals a subtle, but significant disruption to this embodied motor agency in children, from early infancy onwards. It can thwart efficient engagement and lead to autistic symptomatology of emotional dysregulation and social withdrawal. New smart device serious games coupled with artificial intelligence can detect these subtle ‘autism motor signatures’ before conventional clinical instruments allow, providing new routes to its early identification, and new understanding of affective engagement for sensitive social care and improved lifelong success.

February 9, 1-2PM
Dr Julia Stern, University of Bremen
Psychological changes across women's menstrual cycle: Evaluating the current evidence

Abstract: Psychological effects of women’s fertility and hormonal status have been extensively studied during the last decades. It has been reported that women’s mating psychology, emotions, consumer behavior, personality, cognitive abilities and even political attitudes and religious beliefs vary across their menstrual cycle. However, experts are divided on whether women’s cognition and behavior really differ between fertile and non-fertile phases, as this research area has faced challenges of measurement and replication failures. In my talk, I will evaluate the current evidence on ovulatory cycle shifts, with the main focus on women’s mating psychology and physical attractiveness. While it is well established that sexual desire varies across the menstrual cycle, there is ongoing discussion whether hormonal changes influence women’s mate preferences or their physical appearance as well. Further, recently raised criticism on previous studies‘ methods cast doubt on the majority of published findings of menstrual cycle research. The current scientific debate on cycle shifts in mate preferences will be taken as an example to demonstrate the importance of open and transparent science.

February 16, 1-2PM
Dr Kevin Wilson-Smith, NHS: Head of Public Mental Health
Corporate Psychopathy - Psychological Assessment of pro and anti-social personality traits in the workplace

Abstract: For many years psychological testing has been used to proactively search for talent in the organisation. The focus has often been on using personality assessment to search out positive traits in people that are socially desirable for the jobs to which we are recruiting. However in some contexts aspects of clinical traits of psychopathy Machiavellianism and narcissism can be seen in the workplace and moreover seem to provide an advantage to some individuals in some sectors.  The aim of this presentation is to explore the way in which we assess personality in the workplace and to consider the place of corporate psychopathy and screening out negative personality traits.

February 23, 4-5PM
Dr Gina Poe, UCLA
Can we build a preventative cure for PTSD through sleep?

Abstract: Sleep-related complaints are hallmarks of anxiety-related disorders. Could sleep be part of the aetiology of both vulnerability and resilience to post-traumatic stress disorder? We found significant changes in sleep features such as early changes in REM sleep amounts and later sleep spindle density and theta power that influence contextual learning and memory consolidation. We will explore these sleep features and how activity in the locus coeruleus - a stress-reactive nucleus - influences them. We will review findings of estrous cycle influences on the locus coeruleus activity and on sleep features that could explain the 2-4 times increased incidence of stress-related disorders in females. We will also discuss ideas for sleep-related treatments for stress disorders and possible preventive measures.

Please e-mail if you would like to attend any of these talks.