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The effect of different activities on subsequent task performance

In our everyday life we may have made the experience that different activities have different effects on how we ’feel’ and ’think’. For instance, after having been to a movie theatre watching a 2.5-hour action movie in the dark, we feel differently as compared to having had a walk in nature for the same time. It seems likely that these differences have an effect on tasks we do afterwards, in particular if these tasks are cognitively demanding, such as learning for school or university. The question of this project is whether these incidental observations can be reproduced in a laboratory context using standardised cognitive tasks. Potential activities preceding cognitive tasks could for example be meditation, watching TV (action/quiet), listening to music (energetic/calming), listening to audiobooks/radio, reading, doing light exercise (stretching, yoga,...), doing a walk outside (on busy campus / in quiet nature).

Initially it would be planned to conduct behavioural studies (computer-based / paper-and-pencil) in the laboratory. If there are interesting behavioural effects, it can be considered to extend the project into the area of Cognitive Neuroscience and conduct brain imaging studies (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI). This project is in the area of Cognitive Psychology and potentially Cognitive Neuroscience. Potential candidates should have a UG- and preferentially a PGT degree in Psychology or a related area.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Andre Szameitat - Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience. Brief CV: After my general study of Psychology I conducted my PhD at the MPI of Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Neurology. In 2003 I joined the University of Surrey as a post-doc. After this post-doc position I went back to Germany to work in Munich as lecturer in the international Master’s program Neurocognitive Psychology. I joined Brunel University London as a Reader in September 2013. Qualifications: 2011 Habilitation, venia legendi in Psychology, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich/Germany 2002 PhD in Psychology, Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig/Germany 1999 Diploma (Dipl.-Psych.; MSc equiv.) in Psychology, Technical University Braunschweig/Germany Research area(s) - Executive Control and Prefrontal Cortex Multitasking, Working Memory Brain Imaging (fMRI) & Behavioural Methods