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David I. Donaldson

I am director of the PIL, which I set up in 2001. I have trained with neuroimaging experts in the UK and USA, using both electrophysiological and haemodynamic methods. I have a particular interest in Episodic Memory (memory for one’s own personal past). My interests range from demonstrating the basic neuro-functional processes that support episodic retrieval to examining individual differences and the genetic basis of episodic memory.


Lea Pilgrim

I joined PIL in November 2008 as a SINAPSE-funded neuroimaging fellow. My research interests include language comprehension, memory and reading. I am particularly interested in the architecture of semantic knowledge, both the nature of semantic knowledge and how this knowledge is instantiated in the brain. Since joining PIL my research has focused on how the structure of semantic knowledge may interact with the ability to recall that information later.


Catriona Bruce

I am a Chief Technician within the Department of Psychology. I am responsible for the day to day running of the Psychological Imaging Laboratory and assist research staff and students with all aspects of running Event Related Potential experiments.



Graduate Students


Iain Harlow

I am currently in the third year of my PhD at the University of Edinburgh Neuroinformatics department. I am interested in the processes that underlie human memory: what they are, how they should be described and how they interact to support memory for different tasks. Currently I am investigating how these processes support associative memory, using behavioural and EEG imaging data gathered at the PIL in Stirling. I am also interested in how these processes should be modelled, since estimates of their contribution to a given task are required for the interpretation of neural and imaging data.



Catherine MacLeod

I joined the Psychological Imaging Lab as an undergraduate research assistant back in 2004, and am now a PhD student funded by the ESRC. I am generally interested in the study of memory and cognition and I use Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) as well behavioural and neuropsychological techniques to investigate the relationship between individual differences and episodic memory. More specifically I am looking at the role of genetic variation, personality and brain function on both behavioural and electrophysiological measures of episodic memory.

Daniele Ortu

I earned a BSc in Psychology in 2004 and a MSc in Science of Organization/Behaviour Analysis in 2005 in Cagliari and Nuoro respectively, Italy. I had then the chance to pursue my interests in Behaviour Analysis, Cognition and Neuroscience working at Smith College, Massachusetts and University of North Texas as a Research Assistant. In October 2008 I joined the Psychological Imaging Lab at the University of Stirling and the SINAPSE team as a Ph.D. Student in order to carry out neuroimaging research through Event Related Potentials. My Ph.D. project involves assessing validity and reliability of ERP results across labs; current experimental interests are the N400 effect and also the role of differential consequences on memory.


Joanne Park

I graduated in 2008 with a BSc (Hons) in Philosophy, Computing Science and Psychology (first class) from the University of Stirling.  I was awarded the Neville Moray prize for best combined honours student and the Alan Baddely prize for best final year project. My undergraduate dissertation examined the role of semantic coherence in successful retrieval from episodic memory using Event-Related Potentials (ERPs).  I am currently undertaking the MSc in Psychological Research Methods as part of a 1+3 ESRC funded PhD.  My primary research interest is in the interaction between implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) forms of memory.


Ida-Maria Skavhaug

I am in the final stages of my PhD which is using ERPs to investigate the interaction between metacognition and episodic memory. Metacognition is a broad concept referring to thought processes about cognition (“thinking about thinking”), and I am particularly interested in how people predict their future memory for events. Being able to accurately predict what you will remember (and what you will forget!) is an important skill as it allows you to make use of your study time in a more efficient way and to apply control strategies when you think your memory is likely to fail.

Johanna Simpson

I am a first year PhD student interested in the interplay of emotion and cognition and the role of individual and genetic differences on this interaction. My main focus is the enhancing effect of emotion on memory, known as emotional memory. My current study looks at the influence of individual differences, specifically levels of depression, anxiety and schizotypy as well as personality type, on how emotional stimuli are processed and remembered compared to neutral stimuli. As well as behavioural measures of emotional processing and memory, I also look at their electrophysiological correlates using ERPs.




Denise Grassick

Denise is about to start the third year of her psychology degree and is working in the lab on a departmental scholarship during the summer vacation.


Jamie Murray

Jamie is about to enter his final year in the department. He won a prestigious Carnegie Trust Vacation Scholarship and is working on aspects of implicit semantic processing and associative learning. He plans to continue in the lab over the next year, doing his final year dissertation project using ERPs.