There are a whole range of research projects going on in the Psychological Imaging Laboratory, ranging from studies of aging and memory, to examining the effects of disfluency on language comprehension. If you have a great idea, we would love to hear about it. Below are some examples of projects that have been carried out as undergraduate dissertations over the last few years.
How do you remember? More importantly, how do you forget? Theories suggest that forgetting is due to either a) decay - the amount of time that has passed since you learnt something, and b) interference - the impact of learning new things that disrupts your memory for things learned previously. What these theories don't take into account is that time is, by all accounts, relative. What happens if you think a lot of time has passed, does this make your memory worse? And what if time passes quickly, do you remember more as a result? There is lots of scope for investigating memory, forgetting, and the perception of time.
Most of the research in the PIL uses ERPs (a measure of brain wave activity recorded from electrodes placed on the scalp) as a way of assessing the processing that goes on whilst participants carry out memory tests. Projects using ERPs are typically harder work than behavioural studies, taking more time, and presenting more of a challenge. However, undergraduates that choose to do ERP projects typically learn many more skills, and get to see what *real* research is all about. ERP projects are not for the faint-hearted, but if you are serious about science, and are prepared to work hard, they are worth the time and effort. Previous studies have looked at how memory is influenced by different encoding strategies, whether there are neural correlates of social attention, and whether faces elicit special neural signals.
One of the topics of interest in the lab is how memory for faces differs from memory for other material. Faces, it is said, are special. Theories of recognition memory do not distinguish faces from other stimuli though, and it is not clear whether the processes that support memory for words and faces really differ or not. Projects on faces have examined what happens when you use computer morphing to make faces look more alike, and have also examined the neural correlates of faces using ERPs.