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Cognitive Basis of Atypical Behaviour

About us

The investigation of psychosocial functioning has been divided between two streams of research focusing on processes in healthy individuals, and outcomes in those with mental health disorders. As a result of this, improvement in our understanding of how and why psychosocial functioning is compromised by poor mental well-being has been both slow and incremental.


I'm Simone Favelle and I'm in the School of Psychology and I'm a Senior Lecturer there. 

So our research initiative is called the Cognitive Basis of Atypical Behaviour and we came together as a group of researchers in the School of Psychology that are interested in cognition, cognitive processes and also how that relates to social functioning more generally. 

So the group is being funded by the Faculty of Social Sciences as a research initiative the projects that we have that are going on involves looking at memory processes and the kinds of resources that we have available for memory, how that relates to expression recognitions, so how we can recognise facial expressions. 

The members of the group have been working various pairs and groupings before coming together and that's the aim was to kind of bring together people who had similar goals with their research and so one area of research was between myself and Emma Barkus looking at how well we can recognise facial expressions of emotion and how that relates to a whole battery of kind of psychosocial factors such as like loneliness, social anxiety, anhedonia; those kinds of things. And so we're continuing with that project, we've also started data collection on a project that more specifically looks at the role of memory of working memory so that's that memory that you use, in actually just right here right now functioning and so the resources that are available there, does that impact your ability to recognize expression. 

We each have different areas of expertise, so my area, I do face recognition research more generally and interested in how we process information, visual information about the face. Another group member has schizotypy and all these social psychosocial factors. There's other members who have expertise in memory and cognition and language because we've each got expertise in a particular area and even though it sounds fairly intuitive that obviously cognitive processes must underpin how we function socially, there's not a great deal of research that's been done in this area, so we've kind of been doing things in our separate areas and so bringing it together, I think, is really quite important to be able to consider all of the aspects that we need to know as a group to get some critical mass going forward.

The main idea that we wanted to get across was that you know we really wanted to have a look at how these basic cognitive processes relate to social functioning because social functioning is such an important aspect of our mental health and mental well-being, and if we can get an idea about how we can understand how it is that these cognitive mechanisms, you know impact social functioning then you know we have avenues for, you know helping people with particular disorders, helping people in the regular community, and across different age ranges if we can look to a cognitive intervention rather than you know drugs sauce or something else more intense you know that'll be a good place to start.


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We are a group of multidisciplinary researchers with strengths in these two domains of psychology. We combine expertise in cognitive psychology with applied research to:

  1. Breakdown and operationalise the cognitive components contributing to effective psychosocial functioning;
  2. Identify healthy volunteer models and devise objective tools to test these models;
  3. Investigate the individual differences in cognitive and affective styles related to psychosocial functioning; and,
  4. Investigate how cognitive language processes, such as semantic processing, link through to their application in social settings.



Elle Coleman - The cognitive, emotional and psychophysiological correlates of unusual beliefs.
Emily Keogh - Recognition of facial expression of complex emotions
Erin Mison - The interpersonal consequences of schizotypal traits: including bullying, social connectedness, social satisfaction and loneliness.
Melody Tan - Understanding the psychological variables which relate to social functioning along the psychosis continuum.
Maryann Wei - Aims to understand the role of social environment and the possible social support gained from cannabis use in those with varying levels of schizotypal trait.


Do cognitive capacities compromise facial emotional expression recognition? 
We will investigate the role of working memory in recognising facial expressions of emotion. Some evidence suggests that reduced working memory capacity is associated with poorer emotion recognition, and we will extend this to examine whether emotion recognition by people scoring highly on schizotypal traits and loneliness is more adversely affected by the situational load on working memory than that of other people.