2012-2013 Departmental Seminar Series: Spring Term


17 Jan

Dr Gareth Hagger-Johnson

Dept. Epidemiology & Public Health, University College London

'Combined smoking and alcohol use on cognitive decline: Whitehall II cohort'

Background: Identifying modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline is a priority.

Aims: To examine the combined impact of cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol consumption on cognitive decline from midlife.

Method: Prospective cohort study with 3 clinical examinations in 1997/99, 2002/04, and 2007/09. Participants were 6473 adults (72% men), mean age 55.76 (SD = 6.02) in 1997/99. Four cognitive tests, assessed three times over 10 years, combined into a global z-score (mean = 0, SD = 1).

Results: Adjusting for age, sex, education and chronic diseases, 10-year decline in global cognition was -0.42 z-scores (95% CI -0.45, -0.39) for non-smoking moderate alcohol drinkers (reference group). Smoking and alcohol consumption interacted (p = .04). Smokers who drank alcohol heavily declined by -0.57 z-scores (95% CI -0.67, -0.48); 36% faster than the reference group.

Conclusions: Smokers who drank alcohol heavily had 36% faster cognitive decline, equivalent to an age effect of 12 years.

24 Jan

Prof Zoltan Dienes

School of Psychology, University of Sussex

'Using Bayes to get the most out of null results'

User's of orthodox statistics, including psychologists, have typically not interpreted null results in a principled way, resulting in mistaken conclusions and choices of research direction based on non-significant findings. A non-significant result does not distinguish no evidence for an effect from evidence for no effect, radically different states of affairs. The distinction falls out naturally from a Bayesian analysis, in a consistent way that cannot be accomplished with orthodox statistics, even when statistical power is taken into account.

I will show how simple free online software for calculating Bayes Factors can be used to determine what a null result is actually telling us. The new tools I introduce in this talk, and now gradually appearing in the literature, should enable publishing null results on an equal footing with significant results. I hope to make people aware of a genuine practical hole in current practice in any domain of psychology and offer a genuine practical solution. The talk will be useful to anyone who uses inferential statistics. No statistical background is assumed other than knowledge of how to do a t-test.

31 Jan

Dr Rebecca Charlton

Dept. Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London

'Brain-behaviour associations in late-life'

7 Feb

Dr David Lagnado

Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences Department, University College London

"Causal networks for legal reasoning"

How do people make legal judgments based on complex bodies of interrelated evidence? This talk outlines a novel framework for evidential reasoning using causal idioms. These idioms are based on Bayesian networks, and are tailored to the legal context. They can be combined and reused to model large bodies of legal evidence. The proposed framework captures critical aspects of witness reliability, and the potential interrelations between witness reliabilities and other hypotheses and evidence. We report several empirical studies on the interpretation of alibi evidence, and show that people’s intuitive inferences fit well with the qualitative aspects of the idiom-based framework

21 Feb

Dr Kate Wilmut

Dept. Psychology, Oxford Brookes University

"Motor control and movement selection in children with and without Developmental Coordination Disorder"

28 Feb

Prof. Adam Rutland

Dept. Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London

"Children, morality and group identity-based social exclusion"

7 Mar

Dr Jessie Ricketts

Dept. Psychology, University of Reading

'Reciprocal relationships between reading and oral vocabulary: Insights from development disorders of language and communication'

It is well-established that oral vocabulary knowledge is important for successful reading; a reader must understand the meaning of words in a given text to fully understand it. There is also evidence that reading skill impacts on oral vocabulary development. Once children start learning to read, the reading process provides opportunities for vocabulary acquisition. Further, knowledge of orthography (visual word forms) may promote oral vocabulary learning. A series of experiments will be described that explore reciprocal relationships between reading and oral vocabulary. Performance in children with specific language impairment and autism spectrum disorders will be considered.

14 Mar

Dr Catherine Gale

MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unity, Southampton & Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh

'Intelligence and mental distress'

About the seminars

The seminars are open to all and are free of charge. 

Seminars are held on Thursdays at 5pm in RHB 309, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW.

For further information contact James Moore at j.moore (@gold.ac.uk) or Sophie Von Stumm.