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Welcome to the Brain and Senses!

Hi, we are Dr Ellen Poliakoff and Dr Luke Jones and we’re experimental psychologists. This means that we find out how people think and how the brain works.

When we are not teaching – or lecturing as it’s called at University! – we can be found doing experiments in the laboratory. Ellen is finding out about how we move and Luke is doing experiments about how we understand time.

Luke’s research

Do you find that time passes quickly when you are having fun, but crawls along slowly when you have to do something boring? Well, I’m interested in finding out why this is the case. I am trying to answer lots of questions about our sense of time.

We think that we have an internal clock in our brains that we use to answer questions like these:

How long did the event last for?

How long will it be until something happens?

How long ago did it happen?

How well do we remember how long something lasted for?

I’m particularly interested in finding out lots more about the latter.

Ellen’s research

We often take our movements for granted, because most of the time we don’t have to think about what we are doing. You probably find it quite easy to catch a ball or to tie your shoelace for example. If you do, then well done because controlling your movements is very complicated and people have still not been able to build robots that can move as well as a real human.

I am doing some research into Parkinson’s disease – an illness that affects the brain and makes it difficult to move. People with Parkinson’s disease often take a long time to begin a movement or make movements that are too small. I am finding out whether what they see can help or hinder their movements, for example patients might find it harder to move in a crowd or somewhere cluttered – like a supermarket – where they can get distracted.

We hope you enjoy learning about the brain and senses with us – maybe one day you’d like to study at University and find out more….