Our research

Selected current research projects

Using language to predict cognitive outcomes in old age (2017–2020)
Australian Research Council Future Fellowship
Professor Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky

Project will test the hypothesis that high linguistic complexity scores reflect the ability to strategically optimise processing in the face of age-related reductions in processing capacity. We aim to understand the relationship between these complexity scores and real time information processing across the adult lifespan, and aim to develop an accurate marker of the individual balance between processing capacity and strategy; serving as a predictor for the risk of age related cognitive impairment.

Collaborators: Prof. Reinhold Kliegl, University of Potsdam, Germany, Prof. Richard Lewis, University of Michigan, USA, Prof. Steven Small, University of California Irvine, USA

Enhancing human performance in complex environs by integrating virtual reality, wearable computing, cognitive neuroscience and mental training.
Department of Defence, Defence Science and Technology Group Human Performance Research Network (HPRnet)
Dr Marteen Immink
Defence personnel are selected and trained to operate in complex, high-risk environments while interacting with technology. This project aims to create an optimal cognitive screening and training environment by bringing together world-class expertise in virtual/augmented reality and wearable computing, cognitive neuroscience and mental training.
Principal Investigator: Prof Mark Billinghurst
Investigators: Professor Bruce Thomas, Professor Javaan Singh Chahl, Professor. Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Professor Matthias Schlesewsky, Dr Maarten Immink

Are young adults aware of the long-lasting consequences of methamphetamine (‘ice’) use on health and would knowledge of a visible long-lasting consequence decrease use of the drug?
2016 Fay Fuller Foundation Discovery Fund
Dr Gabrielle Todd

Data shows use of methamphetamine in young-to-middle aged adults is associated with long-lasting changes in movement and the structure and function of movement-related brain regions. We aim to develop an evidence-based, ready-to-use health message that increases community knowledge of this long-lasting consequence of methamphetamine use, changes attitudes towards methamphetamine, and discourages use of the drug in young people.

Collaborators: Professor Jason White, UniSA, Professor Adrian Esterman, UniSA, Associate Professor Rob Wilcox, Flinders Medical Centre, Assoc Prof Dominic Thewlis, University of Adelaide, Professor Nicholas Procter, UniSA, Associate Professor Adam Vogel, University of Melbourne

Developing pedagogical solutions to linguistic and cultural barriers in design education supporting Asian architecture students (2016–2018)
Department of Education and Training
Prof. Ning Gu

This project focuses on Asian design students in Australian higher education and sets out to understand the impact of native language on design pedagogy, aiming to deliver a knowledge framework about the impact of linguistic and cultural differences on design. The project proposes and tests guidelines and tools for curriculum structures and assessment methods that will better support effective learning for both international and domestic students

Collaborators: Prof. Michael Ostwald, University of Newcastle, Dr. Juhyun Lee, University of South Australia


Sharing the language of design: an Australian Korean partnership (2016–2017)
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Prof. Ning Gu

Led by an Australian and Korean academic partnership, this project sets out to improve our joint understanding of language in design, and through this provide a new insight into the way different cultures communicate their values, attitudes and intent. Through this work, the project will support creative, educational, cultural and strategic links between Australia and South Korea.

Collaborators: Prof. Michael Ostwald, University of Newcastle, Dr. Juhyun Lee, University of South Australia


Hierarchical information processing in the primate visual cortex (2017–2019)
Australian Research Council Discovery Project
A/Prof. Mark McDonnell

The project will investigate how a complex biological system (the visual cortex of the brain) computes the characteristics of the images presented to our eyes. In pursuing this, we will apply artificial intelligence algorithms ("deep learning networks") to physiological data. The project will generate models that may result in further improvements in artificial seeing systems. It will address long standing questions in neuroscience, and provide insights
on biological hierarchical computation.

Collaborators: Prof. Marcello Rosa, Monash University Australia, Dr. Hsin-Hao Yu, Monash University Australia, Dr. Adam Morris, Monash University Australia, Prof Yang Dan, University of California, Berkeley, USA


Does sleep during infancy promote memory and learning?
Dr. Mark Kohler

Sleep helps consolidate memory and promotes generalisation of memories to new contexts. Infants devote much of their time to sleep, however little is known about the role that sleep plays in early memory development. This project combines ambulatory EEG and behavioural testing of infant imitation before and after a daytime nap or equivalent period of daytime wake.

Collaborators: Professor. Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Professor Matthias Schlesewsky, Dr. Russell Fewster, Ms. Sue Harris


A neural basis for the benefit of sleep for emotional memory
Divisional Research Performance Funds
Dr. Mark Kohler

Memory appears to be preferentially enhanced for emotional over neutral information. Sleep is proposed to accentuate this phenomena, however little is known about the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms coordinating these effects, nor of the impact on non-visual content (i.e. spoken language), and how these effects may change over the lifespan. This study combines EEG and testing of memory for both images and spoken sentences of varying valence across a daytime nap compared to equivalent period of wakefulness.
Collaborators: Assoc. Prof. Jessica Payne (University Notre Dame, USA), Assoc. Prof. Elizabeth Kensinger (Boston College, USA)