Perception, Action, and Memory

The perception, action and memory group investigates how we extract information from the environment and use this information to guide our actions, and how such interactions result in learning and memory. Studies investigate the flow of information from perception, such as object recognition, to how attention and eye-movements guide the selection of action, how response can be switched between different stimulus properties, how actions are directed through 3D space and how memory systems interact. The group uses various behavioral measures such as recording hand and eye-movements, neuroimaging techniques such as EEG and fMRI, as well as investigating patients with brain lesions and manipulating neural responses with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Direct Current Stimulation (DCS).

Patricia Bestelmeyer

Patricia BestelmeyerBestelmeyer’s research focuses on evaluating models of face and voice perception,. She uses cognitive neuroscience (fMRI, TMS, EEG) primarily with adaptation techniques to study the neural basis of the perception of paralinguistic aspects of voice such as affect and other socially important attributes. Her research examines the extent to which similar brain systems are used to process voices and faces.

Patricia's Publications

Stephan Boehm

Stephan BoehmBoehm’s research interests lie in human learning and memory, employing behavioural, electrophysiological, functional imaging and neuropsychological methods. He investigates how different forms of learning and memory may be engaged and interact with each other depending on task demands, strategies, intentions and other influences, with a particular focus on understanding the mediating neural processes.

Stephan's Publications

Martyn Bracewell

Martyn BracewellBracewell studies sensory perception, and sensorimotor control, in healthy volunteers and neurological patients. He conducts preclinical and clinical research, aiming to translate laboratory findings to the clinical setting. He uses a number of experimental techniques, including EEG and MRI, non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation-TMS, and transcranial direct current stimulation-tDCS), and behavioural measures (e.g., kinetic and kinematic analysis of movement, sensory psychophysics, and lesion-behaviour correlations).

Martyn's Publications

David Carey

David CareyHe studies sensorimotor control processes in healthy volunteers and neurological patients. Current projects include recording and quantifying manual asymmetries in left-handers and right-handers and quantification of attentional biases towards the preferred hand, which may prove a useful marker for cerebral asymmetries for speech and language.

David's Publications

Emily Cross

Cross is interested in the cognitive strategies and experiential factors that shape neural processes linking action with perception.She addresses questions of how the brain and behaviour are changed by different types of experience with action execution and observation. To do so, she uses a variety of perceptual, visuomotor, and learning paradigms along with an interdisciplinary approach that involves fMRI, TMS, and psychophysics.

Emily's Publications

Giovani d’Avossa

Giovani d'AvossaHe is a neurologist who currently investigates two main issues concerning human cognition: 1) the representation of spatial information in visual memory, and 2) the nature of spatial expectancies guiding visual attention and orienting. He studies healthy volunteers and neurological patients and makes extensive use of fMRI and measures of behaviour.

Giovani's Publications

George Houghton

George Houghton

He uses a range of techniques such as ERP, behavioural measures and computational modelling of neural networks. His recent focus has been to understand how behavioural responses can be rapidly shifted to different properties of a stimulus, and the role of inhibition in these task-switching processes.

George's Publications

Paloma Mari-Beffa

Paloma Mari-BeffaShe investigates the cognitive control processes that enable attention to be selectively focused on particular perceptual inputs, how such attention can be maintained and how it can be subsequently switched to new inputs or object properties. She employs measures of behavior and electrophysiological techniques such as ERP, and studies healthy participants and clinical populations such as Parkinson’s disease.

Paloma's Publications

Ayelet Sapir

Ayelet SapirHer research has focused on attention and perception, with a particular interest in the interactions between exogenous and endogenous processes, the role of inhibition in selection, and cognitive control an aging. She employs both behavioural and neuroimaging (fMRI) techniques, and studies healthy participants and people with focal brain lesions.

Ayelet's Publications

Kenneth Valyear

Simon WattThe purpose of his lab’s research is to better understand how the brain controls meaningful, goal-directed hand actions, with the ultimate goal of harnessing this knowledge to promote the rehabilitation of people with movement problems. His team uses a combination of behavioural and neuroimaging methods, and tends to focus on better understanding the neural control of grasping and tool use.

Kenneth's Publications

Simon Watt

Simon WattHe investigates depth perception and stereoscopic vision. In particular, he examines how visual information is used to guide actions such as grasping, how vision and touch are combined during tool use, and basic aspects of the eye’s focusing response. He is also developing and testing novel stereoscopic display approaches designed to better suit human vision. He employs a range of techniques, such as recording eye and body movements in virtual reality experimental environments.

Simon's Publications

Perception and attention

How do we perceive the world, and our position in it, from vision, proprioception, and audition? How do our brains organise and prioritise the enormous amounts of information available, so that we can make sense of the structure and events in the world?

Visually guided movement

The efficiency and fluidity of human movements belies the computational complexity required to control them. How are targets for movement identified and selected? How are properties of these target objects estimated to plan the movement? How is information in visual ‘co-ordinates’ transformed into an appropriate form to control complex effectors like the arm and hand (and even tools that we may be holding)? How are movements monitored and controlled ‘online’ to be maximally efficient?

Eye movements

How do we select targets we want to look at? How are target locations encoded? What role does our eye position sense play in our perception of where things are? Are eye movements affected by disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder?


Humans can store a vast amount of different information in their memories. They can remember events from their past and the knowledge about the world they obtained over their lifetime. In addition to this declarative memory, humans also show a variety of other forms of non-declarative memory. Non-declarative memory usually leads to changes in performance and can occur even when the original learning episode cannot be remembered. The various forms of memory tend to co-occur at any point in time. Therefore, at any given moment, several forms of memory may be active, and they might work independently of each other or interact. We investigate these dynamics of human memory with both behavioural methods as well as with event-related brain potentials. The aim is to explore and describe the flexibility in how different forms of memory are invoked and how they interact.


As well as studying the above topics in normal, healthy participants, the group carries out a large amount of research on the effects of different kinds of neurological impairment on these processes.

Object representation and recognition

Imagine that you are sitting in a room observing the scene around you. You see a cup, and a guitar, and you instantly recognise them. If you want to, you can reach out across space and pick them up. In fact, this is something that most of us can do effortlessly. But how do we do it? How does our visual system work? How can we perceive, recognise and interact with objects so easily? How do we know where particular objects are in space, and how to reach them? And what happens to our visual system when we are no longer able to recognise objects as is the case of some individuals following an injury to the brain?

Understanding human tool use: information from vision and touch is integrated

When we use tools our brains receive information about the sizes, locations etc. of objects from both vision and touch. An ‘optimal brain’ would combine or integrate these signals because that would allow us to estimate properties of the world with the greatest possible precision, over a wide range of situations. For ‘multisensory integration’ to be effective, however, the brain must integrate related signals, and not unrelated ones (imagine, for example, if the apparent size of the coffee cup in your hand was affected by irrelevant objects that you also happened to look at, like buildings, people and so on).

Building 3D stereoscopic displays that better suit the human visual system

Stereoscopic 3D (S3D) displays are enjoying a huge surge in popularity. In addition to entertainment, they have become common in a range of specialist applications that includes operation of remote devices, medical imaging, scientific visualisation, surgery and surgical training, design, and virtual prototyping. There have been significant technological developments— the red-green glasses are long gone—but some fundamental problems remain. Specifically, S3D can induce significant discomfort and fatigue and give rise to unwanted distortions in depth perception.

Paralinguistic cues and social interaction

Social interactions involve more than "just" speech. Similarly important is a, perhaps more primitive, non-linguistic mode of communication. While what we say is usually carefully and consciously controlled, how we say things, i.e. the sound of our voice when we speak, is not. The sound of our voice may therefore be seen as a much more "honest" signal. I am interested in the effects of these paralinguistic cues on social interaction and how these are processed in the brain. One such signal is vocal attractiveness, which is known to influence the speaker's success at job applications, elections or short-term sexual relations. In a series of experiments we were interested in what makes a voice attractive.