Potential PhD projects

Aging and emotion

As people get older some aspects of their emotional skills improve and some get worse. For example, older people tend to have good emotion regulation skills, positivity biases in processing information, and experience more positive emotions than younger people. On the other hand, older people ignore negative information, and have more difficulty in interpreting emotional cues such as facial expressions. How do these different aspects of emotion relate together, and how do they influence social interactions in old age? Are these changes adaptive or dysfunctional? How do age related changes in emotional skills relate to cognitive decline?

Mood and cognition

We are animals, not computers, and the way that we process information about the world is influenced by our emotions. Emotions can load up our cognitive resources and make some tasks more difficult or in contrast increase motivation and improve performance. Understanding the detailed links between mood and cognition is important in theoretical models of information processing, and practically important in understanding real world cognition. Key questions include: How do fluctuations in mood influence attention? Why does positive mood cause improvement in creativity but impairment in executive functions? How do real world events which influence mood impact on everyday cognition?