A brief history
Why do we sometimes find it easy to resist temptation and at other times, so very difficult? My PhD thesis Leiden University, NL was about how impulse control relies on memory. Previous theories held that our brains are like a muscle that has a finite amount of power, which gets ‘ego-depleted’ after use. Instead, I showed that the degree we can exercise cognitive control is a direct function of how one situation retrieves another one. The basic gist is that you’re more likely to restrain yourself from gorging on fast food if the present temptation (e.g. seeing a McD’s while hungry) is similar (another McD’s) rather than a dissimilar one (a Pizza Hut).
I then held post-doc positions in Nottingham (UK) and Helsinki (Finland), gaining expertise in the use of EEG to study motor control, perception/action, functional connectivity, social neuroscience, and haptics. Moving back to England, I took on a role as lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University, maintaining a research profile on executive control and affective neuroscience and gaining much teaching experience. In 2018, I returned to Finland, focus on interdisciplinary research in Computer Science and Psychology. A senior researcher and docent (Adjunct Professor) in cognitive neuroscience, I am currently working with machine learning experts to study perception and emotion using EEG based brain-computer interfaces.
I believe that the interaction between the various cognitive functions is key to understanding human behaviour and cognition. For example, my research shows that memory enables voluntary choice; that emotions affect touch (but not the other way around); that action determines attention, that action determines attention; and so on. Following William James, and ideomotor theory, I tend to place a strong emphasis on the role of action, and action/perception integration as key to understanding behaviour, cognition, and emotion. In practice, this means that my research involves a rather large variety of different fields in experimental psychology and techniques in cognitive science and neuroscience. These skills tend to be appreciated by others as well and consequently I have collaborated extensively with research on applied psychophysiology and human computer interaction.A selection::
- Executive and motor control tasks to reveal the interplay between memory, automaticity and voluntary control.
- Emotional face processing, effects of action-perception on experiencing social touch, and other topics in social affective neuroscience.
- Various priming tasks, for example to find out if a left-handed person is more easily, subliminally provoked to respond to the left.
- Object tracking tasks: to find out if we can track multiple visual objects across both perception and action.
- Rapid serial visual presentation / oddball paradigms: to test the attentional blink and relevance perception.
- Behavioral economics to quantify effects of touch and emotions on decision making.
- Psychophysics to quantify limits of time and touch perception.
- Interindividual covariation in biosignal data, e.g. people who communicate synchronise actions, emotions and brainwaves.
- EEG, in particularly good old-fashioned ERP research (top 3 potentials: P3, N2, N400), but also time/frequency analysis. I'm also writing a textbook so students may avoid my mistakes.
- Peripheral psychophysiology such as fEMG, EDA, ECG.
- Eye tracking: eye-movements, blinks, and pupil diameter can reveal interest and much more.
- Fun technology like virtual reality and haptic gloves to investigate how feeling (touch) and feeling (emotions) interact.