These studies are recent or ongoing. Please see the Home page for contact details if you would like to be involved.

The Peninsula Dementia Brain-image database (PDBID)

It is a great mystery why some go on to age well while others progress rapidly into dementia. The acquisition of diffusion-weighted images (DTI) and high-resolution brain data will allow these individual differences and the precursors of dementia to be better understood.

The PDBID will create a collaborative MRI brain-image database of people who are ageing healthily, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It integrates researchers in three schools at Plymouth University (Psychology, Psychiatry, Computing), clinical radiologists at the Plymouth NHS Trust Imaging Directorate, clinicians in the departments of Neurology, Neuropsychology, and Clinical Health Psychology at Derriford Hospital, and the researchers and clinicians in the South and West Devon Memory Service and Re:Cognition Health. Furthermore, the PDBID will be open to data-sharing and collaboration with researchers throughout the ARUKSW network, allowing numerous as-yet unformed questions to be addressed.

The database is envisaged to grow over time, dependent on ongoing funding, as new research groupings join. It will provide a joint resource that can be interrogated in many and varied ways and which will foster collaboration between groups researching healthy ageing, MCI and AD and their effects on the brain.

The Brain-image database is funded by Alzheimer's Research UK and is directed by Dr Matt Roser (Psychology, Plymouth University) and Dr Lucy Lee (Radiology, Plymouth NHS Trust). Please see the Media page for details of coverage.

The Neuropsychology of Reasoning

Beginning in August 2012 we embarked on a three-year project funded by the ESRC (RES-062-23-3285, £302,000) to investigate the neuropsychology of reasoning. This project will extend decades of behavioural research into human reasoning and belief by applying the methods of cognitive neuroscience. Over three years we will use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), event-related potentials (ERPs), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to provide converging evidence of the neural processes that mediate how we make decisions. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and is a collaboration between Matt Roser (Principal Investigator), Jonathan Evans (Plymouth University), and Giorgio Fuggetta (University of Leicester). The project will build upon past patient and fMRI studies (Roser), behavioural experiments (Evans), and electrophysiological investigations (Fuggetta) of human reasoning.

Click here for slides presented at the London Reasoning Workshop 2014. Belief bias in Conditional Reasoning.

Click here for slides presented at the London Reasoning Workshop 2015. Belief bias in Conditional Reasoning.

Click here for a poster presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference, Chicago 2015.
Belief bias in Conditional Reasoning.


Relational integration and statistical learning in autism and Asperger syndrome

Drawing information together has been hypothesised to be be disrupted in autism and Asperger syndrome. In conjunction with autism support groups in Devon we are conducting a combined fMRI and DTI study of Relational Integration in adults with autism or Asperger syndrome. We have found that, contrary to expectations, individuals on the autistic spectrum performed very well on the task. Whether their brain activity differs from that seen in non-AS individuals is currently being investigated, as is the role of structural connectivity in modulating patterns of brain activation.

We have also investigated the effects of autism on the learning of embedded structure in visual scenes. We found that a tendency to focus on local details facilitated the learning of locally-defined visual statistics, the patterns of co-occurence between objects. Autistic adults learned these ststistics better than did control participants.

Our paper (Roser, Fiser, Aslin, McKenzie, & Zahra, Enhanced visual statistical learning in adults with autism) was published in Neuropsychology in 2015 and has been covered in the media here.

Visit the Plymouth Autism Network (PAN)

Hemispheric connectivity in the aged brain

We are using behavioural studies and brain imaging to investigate how age affects anatomical connectivity between the two cerebral hemispheres, and how this impacts upon behaviour. We (Linnet and Roser, 2012) have found that aged people (~60 years of age) show behavioural effects, on tasks that require integration of information between the two hemispheres, that are similar to the effects seen in split-brain patients (Roser and Corballis, 2002; 2003). We have attributed this to age-related degeneration in anatomical connectivity between the two halves of the brain and are now testing this hypothesis in a study using diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) to inform about microstructural connectivity in aged and young individuals.