Potential PhD Projects

Language production

Research has demonstrated that there are a number of stages between the generation of a preverbal message and its spoken utterance. Little is known however about the mechanisms underlying the production of fixed expressions such as idioms (e.g., “kick the bucket”). There are a number of different routes a PhD project could take: (1) how are idioms acquired in childhood, (2), does their use change through the lifespan, particularly into older age, and (3) what form do the lexical representations underlying idioms take?

Word processing and attention 

The relationship between language and attention has both practical implications (for example, the effect language comprehension has on a secondary task such as driving), and theoretical implications. Dual-task methods such as the Psychological Refractory Period (or PRP) paradigm can allow us to explore the extent to which language processing can proceed automatically and the extent to which it places demands on central attention. For example, can practice eliminate the detrimental effect that a secondary task has on language processing?

Numerical cognition

This project focuses on the mechanisms underlying number processing. For example, there is strong evidence that number has strong associations with space (e.g., the fact that people are faster to respond with a left-sided response to small numbers and with a right-sided response to large numbers). This project would further explore the relationship between space, visual cues and number.