New research links ADHD to multisensory integration

Dr Maria Panagiotidi

Dr Maria Panagiotidi (Lecturer in Psychology & Member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about her new paper investigating sensory integration and ADHD:

In our daily life, we often take in information from multiple senses at the same time. As we interact with the environment, signals from various senses are integrated to create unified and coherent representation of our surroundings. This process is known as “multisensory integration”. The ability to integrate information from multiple senses has been shown to be abnormal in certain disorders such as autism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) might also have deficits in multisensory integration. ADHD is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder and in roughly half of the children diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms persist into adulthood. It is characterised by attentional difficulties, hyperactive/impulsive behaviour, or both. ADHD can be viewed as the extreme end of traits found in the general population.

In a recent paper published in “Acta Psychologica”, we empirically tested multisensory integration in individuals with high and low level of ADHD traits and found significant abnormalities in the way they integrate visual and auditory signals. Specifically, adults who reported more inattention and hyperactivity symptoms, processed sensory information differently than adults with fewer symptoms.

In total, 40 participants with high and low ADHD traits were recruited and took part in a lab based task; they were presented with a series of brief sounds and simple images and were asked to decide whether they appeared at the same time or not. The image and the sound were presented either simultaneously or with slight delays (image before the sound or vice versa). The responses of the participants were used to measure multisensory integration. The effect of ADHD symptoms on performance was investigated by comparing the responses of the high and the low ADHD groups. The low ADHD group reported a higher number of simultaneous presentations. This finding suggests that individuals with ADHD symptoms are less likely to integrate multisensory information.

Perceiving signals from two or more modalities as occurring separately can lead to distractibility, one of the core and most disruptive symptoms of ADHD. Showing that ADHD might be linked to abnormal integration of sensory information also informs our understanding of neural mechanisms involved in the disorder. In particular, it provides further evidence for the involvement of the midbrain superior colliculus (SC) – a sensory structure linked to orienting the eyes and head towards salient stimuli – in ADHD (located towards the top of the image).

Our study identified a new area of focus for future ADHD research, which could potentially improve our ability to diagnose and assess ADHD. In addition to this, our results may provide future directions for possible ADHD treatment and behavioural interventions.

You can read the publication via the below link:

Panagiotidi, M., Overton, P. G., Stafford, T. (2017). Multisensory integration and ADHD-like traits: Evidence for an abnormal temporal integration window in ADHD. Acta Psychologica, 181, 10-17.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).

Dr Daniel Jolley appears on hit myth-busting TV show ‘Adam Ruins Everything’

Dr Daniel Jolley, a Psychologist from Staffordshire University will appear on hit US television show ‘Adam Ruins Everything‘ this week. Dr Jolley specialises in the psychology of conspiracy theories and was invited onto the myth-busting programme to discuss his research.

The popular show sees investigative comedian Adam Conover reveal everyday hidden truths with the help of scientific research and Daniel appears as a guest in an episode broadcast on American television channel Tru TV on Tuesday 10th October.

“I’m a big fan of the show – it’s not just educational but uses humour backed up with research to showcase important issues. My research explores how conspiracy theories can potentially stop us engaging in society in a positive way. For example, people who were exposed to conspiracy theories were shown to be less likely to vote, less likely to trust science and less likely to have a child vaccinated against a disease.”

Daniel flew to Los Angeles to record the episode earlier this summer and said it was an eye-opening experience.

“Going through make-up and being on set was a completely new experience for me! Seeing behind-the-scenes and how the programme is put together was fascinating.”

Adam Ruins Everything has a large following across the globe and Daniel hopes it will open up his research to new audiences:

“We have a strong focus on research at the University so it is really exciting to bring Staffs to America and beyond! This has been a brilliant way to reach a much wider audience and will hopefully show viewers how varied and interesting psychology can be.”

UK fans can catch up with clips from the episode on the Adam Ruins Everything YouTube channel once it has aired.

Discover more about studying Psychology at a Staffordshire University Open Day – view dates and book your place here.

This is a reposting of a Staffordshire University Press Release.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley featured on BBC Radio Stoke talking about why people believe in conspiracy theories

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Stuart George evening show (9th October 2017) discussing why people might believe in conspiracy theories, his conspiracy theories research, and his appearance on TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything TV show.

Dr Jolley conducts a number of studies into the consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, such as the impact of conspiracy beliefs on behaviours such as voting, vaccinations, and green behaviours (e.g. energy conservation).

Listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link (from 1hr, 17 mins, 35 seconds in):

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Stoke: Stuart George Show

Dr Jolley was also featured on BBC Radio Derby talking about conspiracy theories relating to Theresa May’s Conservative Party Conference Speech (click here).


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Dr Daniel Jolley featured on BBC Radio Derby discussing conspiracy theories & Theresa May

Dr Daniel Jolley

Dr Daniel Jolley (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper show (5th October 2017) discussing his conspiracy theories research and of possible conspiracy theory about Theresa May’s conference speech performance at the 2017 Conservative Party Conference.

Dr Jolley conducts a number of studies into the consequences of belief in conspiracy theories, such as the impact of conspiracy beliefs on behaviours such as voting, vaccinations, and green behaviours (e.g. energy conservation).

Listen to Dr Jolley’s interview via the below link (from 2hr, 35 mins, 25 seconds):

BBC iPlayer: BBC Radio Derby: Sally Pepper Show


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Student Blog: Experiences of Undertaking a BPS Undergraduate Research Assistantship

Tanya Schrader, current Final Year BSc Forensic Psychology student at Staffordshire University, blogs about her experience working as a BPS-funded Summer Intern:

Tanya talking about her Summer Intern research on Six Towns Radio

During Summer 2017, while my friends were raising their hands in the air (like they just don’t care), I was doing a research project. I know what you’re thinking, but I can assure you, it was anything but dull. In fact, I think I may have found my career path. I assisted Dr Daniel Jolley in a project investigating the influence of belief in conspiracy theories on criminal behavior. This was made possible by the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Research Assistantship Scheme and Staffordshire University. The internship aims to provide students an opportunity to sample real-world research.

The project involved examining the relationship between conspiracy theories and White-Collar Crime (WCC); these types of crimes concern fraud and embezzlement which can cost the UK economy £193 billion per annum. We were specifically interested whether believing in conspiracy theories would lead to higher intentions to engage in WCC – If they conspire, why can’t I.  During the project, I undertook data collection and analysis utilizing varied methods and designs, alongside writing sections of the academic paper, which will hopefully lead to publication (an exhilarating thought). I also wrote for non-acadamic audiences such as a piece for Psych-Talk, a student publication. This project improved my academic skills which, I strongly suspect, will prove invaluable while undertaking my third-year project and postgraduate study.

Tanya presenting her work at the BPS East Midlands Conference

Moreover, Dr. Jolley and I were invited to speak about the internship and Staffordshire University, at 6 Towns Radio. Despite my initial anxiety, it was fun!  It was an opportunity to talk about psychology and research in non-academic terms and increase awareness of social psychology concepts. Folks from as far afield as my native South Africa tuned in and engaged in the discussion.

In addition to the radio interview, Dr. Jolley and I submitted an abstract to present a poster at the BPS East Midlands Conference. This gave me a flavor of the processes involved in such events. The application was successful and I joined the Staffordshire University team at the conference. The poster was well received and generated interest (I even heard a PhD student refer to it as ‘really cool’) which was a lovely endorsement for the Summer’s hard work.

Tanya with members of staff from the Psychology Department at Staffordshire University

I am grateful to have had this opportunity to expand my knowledge, skills, and confidence. Thanks to Dr. Jolley, the BPS and Staffs Uni for making it possible. The experience has solidified my intention to pursue a career in research and my upcoming third-year project feels less daunting. In fact, I relish the prospect of another investigation.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

BPS Funded Summer Research Project – Divergent thinking & pretend play in pre-schoolers; Is the relationship reciprocal?

Earlier in the summer we reported that we were delighted to have been two British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Scheme. Both projects have now been successfully completed and Ruth Pettitt, current Level 6 Psychology and Child Development student, reflects on her experience of working with Dr. Sarah Rose.

Ruth writes ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed working on the project throughout the summer. I was very apprehensive at the start, and wondered whether I was up to the task ahead. There were lots of “highs” and certainly a few “lows”, but I had lots of support and reassurance from my supervisor, Dr Sarah Rose confirming that this was completely normal when conducting research, especially with 4 year olds!’

‘My previous experiences of working with children certainly came in useful when collecting the data, you have to expect the unexpected at all times! Despite the timing of the project (just when all nursery children are about to leave, ready to start school!), we reached our target of 58 participants all between the age of 4 years 3 months and 4 years 9 months. Completing the project required perseverance and determination and there were many unexpected challenges to overcome. I had to be organised and manage the workload carefully, as it varied enormously from week to week. Despite Sarah being available throughout, the research frequently required me to work independently which gave me a real experience of the research culture. It was an invaluable experience that I can look back on and draw from in the future, and it has inspired an increased enthusiasm to be a future academic. I’ve gained a lot of practical experience, together with research knowledge far beyond that which I have already learned within my degree. This opportunity has certainly given me an increased confidence and I now feel better equipped to tackle my research project in Level 6.’

Ruth Pettit & Dr Sarah Rose

Dr. Sarah Rose says that ‘Working with Ruth has been an absolute joy. Research with young children always involves some highs and lows and problem solving is certainly a skill required when working in this area. Ruth has demonstrated her ability to think on her feet to make sure that the children taking part in the research had a positive experience while following the pre-planned experimental procedure. Together we have carried out novel research investigating the relationship between children’s play and creative thinking. We look forward to sharing our findings at conferences and through a peer-reviewed journal article.’

Current Staffordshire University Psychology students interested in gaining experience conducting research with young children can get involved with one of Dr. Sarah Rose’s ongoing projects by contacting her.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Explore With Us 2017: Teaching research methods the fun way

Do you teach Psychology in Further Education?  Want to teach research the fun way?

The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University are delighted to have been awarded funding by the ESRC to hold an event for teachers of psychology during the Festival of Social Sciences.

Teachers are being invited to attend Staffordshire University on Wednesday 8th November 2017 to explore with us how teaching research methods can be fun and effective. “Teaching research the fun way” is designed for A-Level Psychology teachers but will be relevant to anyone teaching Psychology in an FE setting.

During the event there will be short talks on maths anxiety, giving effective student feedback and engaging in students with research methods, followed by an opportunity to get involved with some hands-on demos of equipment used by psychology researchers. This will include measuring brainwaves with EEG testing, assessing visual attention with eye tracking and a driving simulator, which tests how good your reactions are behind the wheel. Refreshments, time for networking and questions and answers are also included.

The event is free to attend for FE psychology teachers and each attendee will be able to claim £10 to cover their travel to the event.

For more information about this event, including booking a place please click here.

Queries about the event can be directed to: psychologyevents@staffs.ac.uk


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

 

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

What is Neuropsychoanalysis? Dr David Goss explains…

Dr David Goss

Dr. David Goss (Lecturer in Counselling & Psychology and a  member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about the field of Neuropsychoanalysis and attending a recent conference on neuropsychoanalysis:

Similar to Ronseal quick drying wood stain, Neuropsychoanalysis (NPSA) is exactly what it says on the tin; it’s an integration of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, combining modern quantitative neuroscience research with qualitative, psychoanalytical theories of the mind. The aim is to provide an integrated approach to further understanding human existence.

Attending the 18th annual congress of the International NPSA Society at University College London (UCL), my mind (or brain?) was ready to take on a whole range of subjects and learning. A range of speakers presented talks on fantastic subjects, but perhaps the one that stood out was a discussion on the nature of consciousness. The intention of this blog article is to present the idea that consciousness resides in feeling.

Discussions of consciousness often revolve around the notion of thinking, the narrative of the “I” and other cognitions such as daydreaming and rumination. A popular quote in philosophy is Rene Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” – an example of the premier role ascribed to thought in defining consciousness. But maybe “we feel therefore we are”?  Clear your mind of thought for a moment, stare blankly at the space in front of you, are you not still conscious? All of your homeostatic feelings, thirst, hunger, attraction, approach, avoidance…when we are in moments of flow, reacting to a threat or external situation, we often do not have time to think, we operate from feeling. Feeling is at the core of what drives our actions and guides us through life, yet we often try and think our way through things.

The 2017 NPSA Conference

The cortex, an area which is often suggested to play a key role in cognition/thinking, sits at the top of the brain (geographically). The more primitive and ancient feeling centres sit further below, in limbic system and brain stem regions. This evolutionary layout in itself highlights the core and primitive role that feelings play in our experience. Mark Solms, chair of the NPSA society has presented the example of a young child who suffers from hydraencelaphy, a condition which results in the absence of a cerebral cortex (i.e., thinking part of her brain) and yet when her baby brother is placed in her arms, she smiles with what seems to be happiness and joy. As such, is she therefore not consciously experiencing the process of holding her baby brother, without thinking about it?

I say these words not to try and convert or push a viewpoint upon you, solely just to highlight the important role that feelings play in determining our core experience. Just something for you to think – or feel – about!


Dr. David Goss has recently published a chapter on ‘Working with Neuroscience and Neuropsychology‘ in the Fourth Edition of the SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (click here for more details).


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Professor Karen Rodham writes for The Conversation UK

Professor Karen Rodham

Professor Karen Rodham (Professor of Health Psychology & Director of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) has written a short article for The Conversation UK about the rise in chronic health conditions in animals (similar to the rise noted in humans).

The Conversation UK is a free news service featuring articles written by academics on a range of topics and current affairs. Staffordshire University is a member of The Conversation and Karen’s article is the first article written by a member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research to be published by The Conversation. Read the full article below:

The Conversation: Just like humans, more cats and dogs are living with chronic health conditions

Watch out for more Conversation articles written by the members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research!


Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research.

Keep updated with the latest Health Psychology news from Staffordshire University via following us on @StaffsPsych and via the #HealthPsychStaffs hashtag.

For further information about Health Psychology courses and research at Staffordshire University please visit the following webpages:

Dr. Richard Jolley visits the University of Thessaly to present research on children’s expressive drawings

Dr Richard Jolley

In the second of two blogs, Dr Richard Jolley (Senior Lecturer in Psychology and member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about a research visit to Greece:

On May 23rd I set off to Volos, Greece on an invited trip to the University of Thessaly. I had been asked to give a talk on the development of children’s expressive drawings, and to provide assistance with the Greek translation of my book, ‘Children and Pictures: Drawing and Understanding’.

I set out with some trepidation for the navigation from Athens airport to Volos using a connection of Greek buses and taxis felt like a considerable challenge.  However, the excellent instructions I’ve been given by Dr Fotini Botini, the scientific editor of the Greek translation of my book and the organiser of my talk to her students, made travelling across Greece seem very straightforward. Nevertheless, door-to-door the trip did take a full day and half the night, and I arrived shortly after midnight the next day. None of that seem consequential when I looked at the view from my hotel window the following morning!

 

My talk presented later that day was received by a group of very motivated and interested postgraduate students who certainly kept me on my toes! The talk was an overview of how children express mood in pictures, and the techniques they use (more details of these can be found in my blog about my research trip to the University of  Lausanne).

I also presented data on the pattern in which children’s expressive drawing develops. An influential and long-standing position is that children’s expressive and aesthetic drawings develop in a U-shape. That is, young children’s drawings are thought to be particularly expressive and creative, but then dip during the school years due to a focus on making realistic representations, only then for expressiveness to re-emerge for some adolescents. However, this position has been argued to depend upon measuring the drawings from a ‘modernist’ perspective which places more emphasis on how children have used abstract formal properties (colour, line, composition, etc.) for expressive and aesthetic purposes. I presented my own research conducted with colleagues from both the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University (Dr Claire Barlow) and other institutions (Prof Ken Rotenberg, Keele University; Dr Maureen Cox, University of York). Our findings showed that expressive drawing develops in an age-incremental pattern from pre-schoolers to adult artists, but if the scores are adjusted to limit the impact of the participants’ ability to draw visually realistically then the developmental pattern does indeed tend towards a U-shape.

Immediately following the talk, I had a fascinating discussion with the students who very ably picked up some of the methodological issues in my research which we were then able to apply to their own research studies. Here are a couple of quotes:

“A while ago I was participating to a seminar in “Children Drawings Research Methodology” that Mr. R. Jolley was the main speaker.

It was revealing the way that he was explaining to the audience (us) all the details of children’s drawing that we should pay attention to in research, using several examples during his presentation that made absolutely clear what he was talking about!  He also thoroughly answered all our questions that made obvious his knowledge, interest and love that he has for his research field that transmitted clearly to us!

By the end of the seminar, I was already thinking about abstract expression, color, lines, composition, overall quality and stories that children drawings may be telling us!

Thank you for the exceptional presentation, Dr. Jolley!!”

Olga Michailidou, Grammar School teacher

 

“Professor Jolley’s lecture was well structured. He provided a review of his previous work and the learning goals for the lecture being delivered. He demonstrated enthusiasm in his presentation and he asked questions to ensure our engagement with the topic. To conclude I believe that Dr. Jolley communicated his energy and enthusiasm for his research work, he was inspirational for the students and the new researchers.”

Aspasia Mantziou, PhD Student

 

Expressive drawing is just one part of my wider interest in children’s making and understanding of pictures, and in 2010 Wiley-Blackwell published my book in this area. It has been particularly pleasing for me that the book is currently being translated both in Chinese and in Greek. Dr Bonoti is editing the Greek translation to be published by Topos Books, in which I will be writing a preface. The following day of my trip presented an opportunity for me to clarify the meaning of some sentences of the original text. Our discussion reminded me of how much metaphor and symbolism we use in language, but when translated literally into another language this can lead to confusion!

The topic of children and pictures is not just a research interests of mine, but also a subject in which students at Staffordshire University learn about.  For nearly 20 years it has been a final year option for students studying for a degree across our psychology programmes, and has always been popular and well received by the students.

References

Jolley, R.P., Barlow, C.M., Rotenberg, K.J., & Cox, M.V. (2016). Linear and U-shape trends in the development of expressive drawing from pre-schoolers to adult artists. Psychology of Creativity, Aesthetics and the Arts, 10, 309-324.

Jolley, R.P. (2010). Children and Pictures: drawing and understanding. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


The Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research is home to research activity in the Psychology Department at Staffordshire Centre. The Centre is home to a number of research-active psychologists who are engaged in research across a wide range of psychological subdisciplines. The Centre has two overarching research streams: Health and Behaviour Change and Applied Perception and Cognition.

The Centre provides training for PhD students, Research Masters degrees, as well as Professional Doctorates in Clinical and Health Psychology (click here for more details). The Centre also provides bespoke training to private and public organisations, as well as expertise for consultancy research opportunities. For more details about the Centre, its research activities, events and consultancy, please visit our website (click here).