My interest is multisensory perception, i.e. the way the brain integrates information from our senses to obtain a coherent perception of the world in ageing. I come from a background in Embodied and Situated Cognition, whereby cognitive and functional abilities are considered as determined in interaction with the environment.
My work has contributed in showing that basic multisensory perception deteriorates with ageing and is associated with falling, with maintaining balance and it is linked to the ability to discriminate the temporal sequence of inputs across the senses. I am interested in exploring whether and how older adults and in particular fallers can improve their temporal discrimination abilities by cross-modal perceptual training.
With my colleagues, I am currently exploring ways to train multisensory perception in daily life settings, outside the lab. We have shown that older adults can improve their multisensory perception through physical exercise. Therefore, exercise may represent a way to train cross-modal perception in a measurable way outside the lab. Lifestyle, such as exercise habits, as well as the lived environment can be a form of measurable brain training.
Thank to my collaboration with The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, the multisensory assessment used in our experimental studies is now available on over 4000 aged 50+, allowing to assess the impact of multisensory perception deficits at population level.
My research focus is multisensory integration (MSI). Multisensory perception is an important field of research because it gives us insight into how we truly perceive the world around us. MSI can be an important biomarker for the functional connectivity underlying many neurological diseases (e.g., healthy older adults, older adults with mild cognitive impairment, and people with autism spectrum disorder). I have used perceptual training techniques, coupled with magnetoencephalography (MEG) to explore how perceptual and cognitive training affect cortical connectivity.
Dr. Marica Cassarino (Post-Doctoral Researcher)
My doctoral project is titled: Geographical Variations in Cognitive Ageing: An Investigation of Urbanisation and the Cognitive Health of Older Adults in Ireland.
Description - Global ageing and urbanisation urge to understand whether urban or rural environments are supportive of cognitive health in older age. Based on epidemiological evidence of a cognitive advantage for older urban rather than rural dwellers, the doctoral project to explore variations in the cognitive performance of older individuals (global cognition, memory, processing speed, attention, and executive functions) based on the level of urbanisation of the place of residence (i.e., urban vs. rural living, population density, distance from urban environments), while controlling for social, health and lifestyle covariates. In addition, the potential moderating effect of active lifestyles (i.e. engagement in physical activity) on these geographical variations is investigated. Data is used from a nationally representative sample (approximately 5,000) of healthy community-dwelling people aged 50 and older taking part in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).
Key interests: My research interests are focused around how negative perceptions of ageing influence the ageing process in older adults. I am looking at this process from both a social and cognitive perspective and developing interventions aimed at helping people age better. As well as this I have an interest in a wide range of psychological topics such as evolutionary psychology, biological psychology, and data analysis.
Key interests: My research interests are focused on using exercise as a form of ‘brain training’. My research project explores how older adults’ cognitive functioning can be improved through exercise. I’m especially interested in using exercise to train cognitive functions which are important for everyday life but prone to age-related decline: working memory, attention, creativity, multisensory perception. I’m also interested in exploring this exercise-cognition link during development (in children).
Derek Anthony Walsh (PhD candidate)
My research focuses on attention and perception from the perspective of driving, specifically, why drivers frequently fail to see motorcyclists. Utilising UCC’s driving lab and eye-tracking equipment my project examines the factors that may play a role in this failure to see, such as inattentional blindness, perceptual load, rider conspicuity, and priming. As well as the direct contribution to road safety, this research has implications for any role where an individual is tasked with examining a scene with the aim of identifying a particular stimulus, e.g., examining medical scans or airport luggage x-rays.