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:

Growing Success at the Fourth Staffordshire Health Psychology Conference!

Dr Rachel Povey (Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology) reports on a successful conference held by Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology:

At the end of June, Staffordshire University’s 4th Health Psychology Conference took place in the Science Centre. This year the conference had grown to 50 delegates who included undergraduate and postgraduate students, graduates, and external partners. The conference had a real buzz about it and as well as the usual oral paper presentations, this year’s programme included posters and workshops for the first time. The conference organization for this year had also changed, with a group of health psychology trainees collaborating with me in the planning and running of the conference (Lisa Cowap, Nicola Stenberg and Harpreet Sohal).

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The oral programme was kicked off by Adam Boughey, a 4th year trainee who presented a behaviour change intervention using yoga for smoking cessation. A number of thought-provoking papers followed, some of which focused on outcomes of research, others were more reflective discussions from trainees on the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The conference finished with a fascinating keynote from Dr Daniel Masterson, a Health Psychologist and recent graduate of the Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. Daniel presented his interesting and challenging work as a health psychologist working in the novel environment of urban planning.

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Dr Daniel Masterson delivers his keynote talk on urban planning

Prizes were awarded to current PhD Student Sian Calvert for the best poster for her work investigating healthy eating behaviours and social norms in high schools, and to health psychology trainee Harpreet Sohal for the best oral paper. Overall, the conference was a great success, with lots of positive feedback including “one of the best conferences I have attended” and “it has inspired me to conduct further research”.  A great day all round!


 Staffordshire University – The Home of Health Psychology

Staffordshire University’s Centre for Health Psychology is a Psy1centre of excellence for teaching and research in Health Psychology, and is home to Staffordshire’s BPS Accredited Stage 1 MSc in Health Psychology and BPS Accredited Stage 2 Professional Doctorate in Health Psychology. The Centre for Health Psychology is part of the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise, one of the leading research-active academic schools for Psychology and Sport degrees situated in the heart of England.

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

Drs Daniel Jolley & Nichola Street blog on the BPS Annual Conference

Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Nichola Street (Lecturers May 16 BPS Conference blog 1in Psychology) recently attended the British Psychological Society’s flagship event, the Annual Conference, in Nottingham in April 2016.

The conference encompassed a diverse array of presentations that spanned the whole of psychology, alongside Keynote presentations from scholars such as Professor Gail Kinman and Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes (now Vice President of the BPS).

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The conference also provided the opportunity for scholars to present their work in different innovated formats. One format was Haiku Desk style, where Dr Street presented a talk entitled ‘When Art and Psychology Collide’.  A Haiku Desk limits the text on each slide to only a few words, then “deals a desk” of appropriate images to marry up to the text.  The presenter then is given 3 minutes, followed by 2 minutes of questions. Dr Street said: “ I chose to submit into this category as my research is focused on the power of imagery. It was exciting having a different brief for a presentation focused on visual impact and I enjoyed the test of trying to compress my research background, aims and findings into 3 minutes. In practice it certainly was a difficult task to keep to time but I do enjoy the challenge of trying new methods to add novelty in scientific communication.”

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Dr Nichola Street at the BPS Conference

Dr Jolley presented a slightly more traditional poster, which showcased research that aimed to test interventions designed to address anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. Dr Jolley said: “Presenting the poster was a great way to discuss my research with many different people – I received some great feedback, and was able to have more one-to-one conversations.  As the poster was being showcased all day, I tweeted the poster-board number and a photograph using the conference hash tag (#bpsconf), which may have then inspired delegates to attend in person”.

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Dr Daniel Jolley and his poster presentation at the BPS Conference

Drs Jolley and Street also experienced the more typical oral presentations, with Powerpoint; however, one presenter also had the audience take part in a demonstration.  Anne-Marie Czajkowski (from the University of Leeds) talk was discussing ‘Mindfulness for Musicians’ where she asked people in the audience to take part in a short mindfulness activity.  Dr Jolley said: “Typically, talks do not include such an interactive component, so this was a new experience for us”.  Dr Street added: “It was certainly great to include such a demonstration during a more traditional talk, and definitely something I would love to consider using in my own presentations the future”.

You can see therefore that there are all manner of different styles to present your work – why don’t you give it a try?


Dr Daniel Jolley and Dr Nichola Street are both members of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research (#StaffsPsyRes), a newly established research centre at Staffordshire University.

The Psychology Department at Staffordshire is a research-active group of academic psychologists with expertise in several key areas of psychology, including Health Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology and creative methodologies. The University offers a range of Postgraduate courses which provide further training in research skills, including:

For more details about Postgraduate Study at Staffordshire University please visit  http://www.staffs.ac.uk/postgraduate/.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Find out more about our Undergraduate Psychology courses, and book yourself on an Open Day.

Research Digest: New Research by Staffordshire’s Psychologists Presented at Conferences

The beginning of September can be a particularly busy time for academics. Not only are academic staff busy preparing for the new teaching semester, we are also busy conducting our own research and presenting this work at conferences across the UK and beyond! Here are some updates on recent conference presentations featuring new research conducted by academic staff from Staffordshire University’s Department of Psychology:

Developmental Psychology: Children’s Creative Intentions in Drawing

The Annual British Psychological Society Developmental Section Conference was held in Manchester this year. This conference is an opportunity for researchers (from students to Professor level) to hear about new research and ideas in Developmental Psychology. It also a great opportunity to catch up with likeminded researchers, many of whom become friends over the years, and attend social events, including the conference Gala Dinner.

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Dr Sarah Rose & Dr Richard Jolley

This year two of our Developmental Psychology Team, Dr Richard Jolley and Dr Sarah Rose, attended the conference and presented work on children’s creative intentions in drawing. This is a new area of research as although we know an increasing amount about how children’s drawing skills develop we know very little about where they actually get their ideas about what to draw from. Sarah and Richard presented qualitative research suggesting that children are inspired by a wide range of sources when deciding what to draw, including their immediate surroundings, recent experiences, memories, imagination and motivation to express their thoughts and emotions.

BPS West Midlands Conference: Health Psychology, Keynotes, Social Norms & Brand Recognition!

Various members of staff and students, including many from Staffordshire’s Centre for Health Psychology, attended the British Psychological Society’s West Midlands Branch Conference held in Coventry in early September. The conference was an opportunity for students (both undergraduate and postgraduate), early career researchers and academic researchers to present their own research and hear about the latest psychological research being conducted in the West Midlands region.

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Keynote Talk

Professor Karen Rodham, Professor of Health Psychology at Staffordshire University and current Chair of the BPS Division of Health Psychology, gave an engaging and insightful keynote talk about her practice and research working to better understand how people cope with chronic health conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Karen discussed her background in Health Psychology, her practice work and ongoing projects into how people cope with and manage chronic pain, including some interesting new research into how individuals represent chronic pain through drawings or portraits.

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Dr Rob Dempsey’s poster presented at the BPS WM Conference

Other presenters from Staffordshire University included Dr Rob Dempsey who presented findings from the recent European Commission-funded SNIPE (“Social Norms Intervention for Polydrug usE in university students“) study, included recent work demonstrating that European students have similar overestimations of their peers’ cannabis use behaviours as found in North America. This study is part of an ongoing series of projects conducted by Rob and several Masters in Health Psychology students investigating the role of misperceptions of peer norms (attitudes and behaviours) in health-related behaviours, such as help seeking for various health issues, substance use behaviours, and self-screening behaviours for cancer (e.g. testicular self-examination).

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Jenny’s poster

Also presenting data was Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, a PhD student working on a cognitive psychology research project into branding and consumer behaviour using eye-tracking equipment under the supervision of Dr Louise Humphreys and Dr Emily Buckley. Jenny’s research is investigating the processing of brand information when certain features of the product packaging (e.g. location) is manipulated.

 

 

BPS Cognitive Section Conference: Product Branding & Facial Recognition

Dr Louise Humphreys, and PhD student Jenny Parfitt-Bowman, also presented their research at the Annual British Psychological Society Cognitive Section Conference which was held in Kent. Their presentations were on the topic of product branding. In particular, Louise’s presentation discussed the role of automatic and voluntary processes in locating and recognising a branded product, and Jenny’s presentation considered the impact of brand manipulation on visual attention disruption and accurate product recognition (see below for pictures).

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Also attending the BPS Cognitive Section Conference was Dr Andrew Edmonds, who has posted his own report on new developments in facial recognition research as discussed at the conference (click here to read Andrew’s blog post).


Academic staff at Staffordshire University’s Psychology Department have a wide range of research interests which directly informs their teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The department is home to two centres of research excellence: the Centre for Psychological Research and the Centre for Health Psychology.

For more information about courses offered by the department please click here, including information about our BPS accredited Stage 1 Health Psychology Masters, Stage 2 Health Psychology Professional Doctorate, as well as our new MSc/MA by Research and established MPhil/PhD programmes.

Dr Andrew Edmonds reports from the BPS Cognitive Section Conference

Dr Andrew Edmonds, Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University, provides a short report from the BPS Cognitive Section Conference held in September 2015, in particular some new developments in his research area – facial recognition.

The highlight of this year’s Annual BPS Cognitive Section Conference – hosted by the University of Kent – was the fascinating sessions on face processing, superbly convened by my former mentor and co-author, Professor Bob Johnston. Two days of talks reflected on just how far research has come in the field over the last 40-50 years and highlighted some of the challenges still remaining. For example, research has shown that we are relatively poor at processing faces which are unfamiliar to us – such as picking a once-seen face out of a line-up, or even just determining that two simultaneously-presented faces are of the same person – but yet we are often very confident of our judgements in these situations. This has significant implications, not only suggesting that we are not always reliable eyewitnesses but that police officers and passport control officials may also make errors when performing their duties. Current research is therefore aiming to explore what factors affect our ability to perform these face matching tasks accurately – if we can identify these factors, this may help us to understand whether performance on these tasks can be improved and if so, how.

An example of why researching facial recognition and processing is important. The man on the right was convicted of an indecent assault based on the composite image on the left. This was a few years ago now but shows how inaccurate facial composites could lead to wrongful convictions of innocent individuals.

An example of why researching facial recognition and processing is important. The man on the right was correctly convicted of an indecent assault based on the composite image on the left – the development of more accurate facial processing software can have a significant impact on conviction of offenders.

Meanwhile, in the last 10-15 years huge amounts of progress have been made in the development of systems such as EvoFIT to help witnesses produce facial composites (likenesses of criminals) which can lead to the perpetrators of crimes being identified. Whilst identification of criminals from these images is still far from perfect, accuracy is now at such a level that researchers can begin to investigate what makes someone good at constructing an identifiable face composite (e.g. performing well on other face processing tasks, being able to refer to examples of the internal features of faces during composite construction etc.). Somewhat reassuringly, the early evidence suggests that being moderately intoxicated at the time of seeing the criminal does not significantly impair our ability to perfom this task – but the effects of hangovers have yet to be explored!

The conference was also an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and develop new ones, and I am excited by the prospect of collaborating with Dr Sarah Laurence from Keele University on some interesting new projects – we are both interested in how faces become familiar over time and what processes are involved in us learning a new face – so look out for more news on this in the future. I am really looking forward to welcoming Sarah to the university as part of the Visiting Speaker Series in November 2015, and hope to see you there too!


Dr Edmonds is a researcher and a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group part of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research. For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

 

Annual Staffordshire Clinical Psychology Trainee Conference a Success!

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Trainees at the 2015 Conference

Ruth Graham, a current trainee Clinical Psychologist at Staffordshire University, reports on a success conference for trainees hosted at the University in the Summer of 2015.

The Clinical Psychology Trainee Conference took place in June and was deemed a great success. This year marked a new turn for the conference, as two trainees designed and ran the day. Following last year’s successful conference about service user involvement, trainees were keen to lead the way in being open and honest about the personal and professional challenges faced by psychologists.

The theme for the conference was ‘Creating Breathing Space’ and it was designed with the intention of being an experiential breathing space on the day, as well as figuring out new ways to find breathing space within trainees’ personal and professional lives.

Trainees writing their personal reflections about the challenges of accessing self care in their personal lives.

Trainees writing their personal reflections about the challenges of accessing self care in their personal lives.

The morning included some action participatory research that allowed for group discussions and individual reflections on the challenges to accessing self care across different areas, such as university, year groups, the NHS, the therapy room, personal life and the world. This was then followed by a brilliant and well received talk on video by Professor Delia Cushway, a consultant clinical psychologist who has spent much of her career exploring trainee and professional stress amongst psychologists.

The trainees listening to Professor Delia Cushway.

The trainees listening to Professor Delia Cushway’s video talk.

The afternoon was filled with a variety of workshops that had different takes on breathing space. They included art therapy – where therapeutic slime was met with varying reactions!

A space for mindfulness was a welcome relief amidst a busy day, whilst Konnektiv Arts, a community drama company, offered thoughtful discussion on the presentation of mental health. Neuro-circus added a fun and different approach to self-care as many tried out their balance and juggling skills.

Trainees gathered together at the end in order to offer final reflections and comments on breathing space and how it can be found and fought for in the workplace. Creative reflections led to a tie dye ripple effect wall hanging that reflected the collective impact of individual steps to find breathing space.

The ripple effect and two trainees who have enjoyed the day.

The ripple effect and two trainees who have enjoyed the day.

Overall the day was a great success, with trainees enjoying being together and having the space to look after themselves, both in the moment and going forward. Look out for a more in-depth presentation and experience of the conference in the exhibition room in The Science Centre, 28th September to 2nd October!

For more information about courses in Psychology and Clinical Psychology at Staffordshire University please visit our course pages here.