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Dilemmas, Decisions, and Brain Function.

Moral Dilemmas and Brain Function

Participants needed to take part in a decision making and brain scanning study.

You will be asked to answer written problems, whilst seated in front of a computer screen and having your brain function and emotional arousal monitored. You will also be asked to answer a short personality questionnaire. This will take approximately 1 hour. Participants must be comfortable with English language and be free from known reading / language problems in order to participate.

Contact Glen Carrigan to book a laboratory slot: When emailing, please indicate which times would be most convenient for you between the dates of the 18th and 27th of August if you have a preference.

The laboratory is located in Darwin Building at The University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK. We can arrange to meet you at the building or elsewhere on campus if needed, please make us aware of any access issues you may have ahead of time.

Ethical Approval: PSYSOC 159_2nd Phase

Campus Map


Moral Reasoning Research – What Will You Do?

I am a Masters by Research (MRES) student at the University of Central Lancashire under the supervision of Dr Lea Pilgrim, Dr Andrew Churchill, and Dr Mike Eslea. The following experiment asks you to fill in some basic demographic information, respond to a series of moral dilemmas and then complete a short questionnaire about personality traits. We anticipate this will take you approximately 25 minutes. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18. This study was ethically cleared by UCLan PSYSOC Ethics Committee under Reference Number: PSYSOC 159.

The dilemmas in some instances require you to make very difficult decisions which would involve the ‘death’ of hypothetical individuals described in the dilemma. Certain dilemmas also require you to make judgments on drug administration in a healthcare setting. Therefore we would advise that you do not participate if you think this may cause you distress. The personality questionnaire consists of over 60 questions that need to be answered honestly, and which look at how you feel about yourself, how you behave, and how you interact with others and the world around you such as: “I easily get bored.” You can withdraw your participation at any time by simply closing the browser window, after clicking the submit button withdrawal becomes impossible as your data will be anonymous.

The data we collect will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal and used in academic presentations and talks. You will not be able to be identified from the data due to its anonymity. Please feel free to contact the researchers with any questions.

If you are happy to proceed please indicate your willingness to do so, by clicking HERE.

Regards,Glen Andrew Carrigan, MBPsS | Senior Demonstrator | Bsc (Hons) Neuropsychology | Darwin Building 133 | Lea Pilgrim | Director of Studies |




Hemispheric Differences in Facial Recognition

Poster (1)

This study has been ethically approved by The University of Central Lancashire.

Thank you for your interest in taking part in this study. I am a Graduate Diploma student conducting a project on hemispheric differences in facial recognition. For the task, faces will be presented on a computer screen. You will have to make a ‘same’ or ‘different’ judgment and press a button that reflects your choice. Your age and gender will be recorded.

Please be aware that you have the right to withdraw from this experiment at any point during the study. Due to the method of data collection, results will remain anonymous. Once you leave the laboratory, your data will be combined with previously collected data and therefore not possible to assign to a specific participant. As a result, once data has been submitted, it cannot be returned. Only the researcher, supervisor and examining body will see raw data.

If you still wish to participate in this experiment, please let the researcher know: Kimberley Ward: If you wish to withdraw at this point, thank you for your time. Research slots are available from 9:00am – 11:00am. The experiment takes 10 minutes to complete.


Kimberley Ward


UCLan Psychology; Genetics and Neuropsychology

After a successful debut at The Big Bang in Liverpool’s World Museum last year, I’m honoured to be asked to present my workshop at UCLan covering genetics and neuropsychology on Sunday the 23rd of March; so what’s it all about?

What is Neuropsychology?

DNA extraction

Neuropsychology is the study of how we think, and also how the physical brain helps us to interact with the world. Neuropsychologists seek to find how behaviour can highlight problems in the brain, and also help to indicate if there is a biological or psychological basis to many conditions. As you can probably guess, neuropsychology is a cross between neurology and psychology. Neuropsychologists can work as part of a team involving amongst others: neuroscientists, biologists, neurologists, psychologists and many other “ists”. Many practitioners are invested in applying the science directly to help clinical patients, others help by developing new techniques to achieve this, and other neuropsychologists conduct research into many related areas. Neuropsychologists use many different tools from behavioural questionnaires to sophisticated scanning techniques at the cutting edge of technology. One such recent development in technology has been dubbed “clarity” and is truly mind blowing, having been covered in a very accessible video by the guardian.

Read the rest of this entry

UCU statement on UCLan Redundancies

uclan jpegThe following is a statement issued by UCU with regards to the issues raised in my article in support of staff at UCLan: “You can at UCLan: Well actually you can’t without exceptional staff.

Just to inform you that following the outcome of the recent ballot, in which over 81% of members who took part voted ‘Yes’ to strike action in defence of jobs and to protect national agreements on roles and grades, UCU has called for strike action on the following dates:
A two-day strike on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th March
With a further two-day strike on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th March 
Why are we taking this action?
As you will be aware, UCU has been in dispute with Management over three substantive issues;
i.                     the threat of academic job losses
ii.                   the breach of the national framework agreement on academic role profiles in the form of the proposed new academic job descriptions
iii.                  the breach of the framework agreement on the use of Associate Lecturer (a.c.1) grade staff
UCU has been engaged in talks with Management since the start of the academic year but no significant progress has been made on any of these issues. On the issue of redundancies, ACAS (the arbitration and conciliation service) has offered to broker talks to break the deadlock. UCU has indicated that we are willing to engage in such a process, but University management have rejected the ACAS offer.
Furthermore, it was revealed yesterday that none of the proposed ‘new’ posts (which Management made so much of when announcing the job cuts) will be available to ‘at risk’ colleagues as redeployment opportunities. We also have evidence that members are being pressurised into taking ‘voluntary’ redundancy (VR), despite the fact that Management have stated that no-one should be pressurised into taking VR and that only those who ‘genuinely wish to leave the institution’ should apply for VR. Of course we know that there are colleagues who wish to avail themselves of VR but cannot do so because Management has limited the scheme only to those ‘at risk’. UCU has consistently argued for an institution-wide scheme which allows such colleagues to take VR and thus open up potential redeployment opportunities for ‘at risk’ colleagues (known as ‘bumping’, widely practiced as a way of avoiding compulsory redundancies).
UCU had hoped that the substantial vote for strike action in the recent ballot would encourage Management to engage in serious negotiations to resolve the dispute.  Unfortunately this has not been the case. UCU is therefore calling for this robust strike action in order to send out the signal that the union is serious about defending jobs and defending our national contractual agreements. Only by building on the mandate given by our members can we achieve our goals of halting the threat to jobs and preserving our contractual agreements.
Of course we hope it will not be necessary to engage in a prolonged campaign of industrial action, and the strategy the Branch Committee has devised allows Management ample opportunity to settle the dispute, but unless significant progress is made on all three issues the campaign will continue.  
What about the students?
Obviously students are affected when we take industrial action. Contrary to the misinformation spread by University Senior Management, we do not take action to damage our students’ education; on the contrary, as those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to the success of our students, both present and future, we are seeking to defend quality higher education from the immediate and longer-term damaging effects of a reduced (and consequently overworked) and de-skilled academic workforce and from the effects of an increasingly ‘managerialist’ culture in HE . Surely it is in the interests of our students that academic quality not be sacrificed for managerial imperatives; that students are taught by staff who genuinely feel their work is valued and who are not fearful of being discarded in the name of ‘workforce planning’ based on a spurious rationale? And is it right that the University should continue to gamble its assets on loss-making and highly risky overseas ventures instead of focussing on the needs of students here in Preston who are paying £9 a year? I invite you to agree with me that it is not.
As always, I am happy to meet to discuss further. In the meantime I urge you to stand up and support your lecturers in their defence of high quality public higher education.
 Michael McKrell
Petition: Please sign the petition “UCLan: Let our lecturers keep their jobs!” if you agree that the very real intellectual foundations of our university are our cherished academic staff.

Memories in the Making; Neuroscientists Observe Memory Formation

mouse brainFor the first time in history, neuroscientists are observing memory formation and transmission around the brain of a mammal. Developing on advances in the field of RNA research, this astounding discovery really does reveal how this particular function of the brain might work.

Memory is a complex cognitive process comprising many different facets. Before we have a memory (that which we can reconstruct) it has to be encoded in the brain in some way. This is an ever-changing process that is not entirely understood but what we do know is that an initial phase of encoding must take place; this can involve visual, auditory, olfactory perception and more, with a system of storage following its receipt.

This need to store the memory leads to the alteration of molecular structures in the brain including synapses – think of them as radio antennas, one transmitting a particular signal that needs to hop across a gap to another which is designed to receive it; both synapses and radio signal can be strengthened and thus make the job of bridging the gap easier. Memories on a cellular level are seen to be encoded and stable when long-lasting synaptic connections occur between neurons that are in contact with each other. But how do we see this work? Neurons are minute, despite there being 86 billion of them – a figure arrived at by Dr. Suzana Herculano Houzel of the famous ‘brain soup’ study – they are difficult to see and their processes even more troublesome to appraise.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Yeshiva University developed a mouse model within which they were able to fluorescently tag molecules of RNA (mRNA) that code for beta-actin (β-actin) proteins. This is a process that we have used before to tag particular types of neurons in the brain; you might also remember a similar technique being used to produce a fluorescent pig! The appeal of this technique is in the fact that one can tag beta-actin proteins without disrupting the normal cellular processes within them. Bet-actin proteins are found thought living organisms with large concentrations in the brain.

One study describes a process where Dr. Park stimulated neurons in the hippocampus (memory associated) of the mouse, producing glowing beta-actin mRNA molecules which they were able to observe travel within the dendrites of the neuron. A second study by graduate student Adina Buxbaum observed that the way in which beta-actin mRNA is synthesised and controlled by neurons may be unique, leading to a process where it is packaged making it inaccessible for making protein and subsequently unpackaged making it available of beta-protein synthesis.

Dr. Singer in whose laboratory this was discovered remarks: “This observation that neurons selectively activate protein synthesis and then shut it off fits perfectly with how we think memories are made.” This would allow for selective stimulation of beta-actin protein where and when needed in order to strengthen synapses and in turn, memories. I only wish my synapses were sufficiently strengthened when taking Japanese language classes: transmission of language through auditory and written media and rehearsal of what is heard leading to better retention and reproducibility, all through the effective functioning of our neural circuitry.

To find out more about the molecular basis of memory please click the links cited within text for academic research articles.
Video courtesy of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

* RESEARCH* Facial Recognition and Eye Witness Memory Study

Facial Recognition Research

Facial Recognition Research

Participants required! 

Earn a £10 Love to Shop voucher for taking part in two Psychology studies at The University of Central Lancashire.

Would you like to take part in two pieces of research that contribute to the understanding of Face Recognition and Eye Witness memory?

This research will involve tasks such as learning faces and selecting faces from a lineup, as well as naming celebrity facial composites and attempting to name celebrities based on the description given. Te session will last approximately one hour.

If you would like to book a time slot or you would like further details, please contact Dr John Marsh at or Rachel Thorley at For background to this research click here.

Engaging the Public in Research at UCLan

UCLan astrophysics research

UCLan astrophysics research

Would you be interested in taking part in real world academic research at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)? My name is Glen Carrigan, a Neuropsychology research assistant at UCLan and I am currently interested in seeing how many people would be interested in taking part in research as members of the public. We will be giving presentations around the UK in February and March with regards to how the public can become engaged in research and would love to speak to as many people as possible.

Briefly, we’re trying to set-up a serious, community participation centre for the public to take part in research at our institute in many different disciplines. There is a vision for an online portal for people to join so they can easily keep up to date with current research and take part by booking themselves into a study via a simple to use interface. There will be many laboratory based studies using our neuroimaging, audio perception and memory labs to name but a few! On top of this there will be many online studies to choose from and also the facility to visit participants at their convenience for particular research, so the opportunity is very much open to all interested parties, whatever their interests, location (you could even be in another country for the online studies!) or time commitments.

Neuroimaging Research. Image by Karl Hopkinson: http://www.photoPychopathology/

Neuroimaging Research. Image by Karl Hopkinson: http://www.photoPychopathology/

I would very much like to hear if you are interested in this opportunity and how many people you know who might potentially enjoy taking part in research too: individuals, schools, academic groups, community centres and so on. Our research areas are as diverse as they are interesting so there will be something for everyone. Your contributions to research really will make an impact in those areas that studies address and we really do value your time and commitment in helping us achieve new standards of research in collaboration with the wider public and indeed, for the benefit of us all. Please feel free to contact me with any questions by email and I will be more than happy to address them. Alternatively leave a comment in the comments section.

Glen Andrew Carrigan

Research Assistant, founder: JSOC 会長, Project Science & Reason
The University of Central Lancashire
Email:, Linkedin, @CarriganGlen

*RESEARCH* Reactive and Proactive aggression

Ethical approval: The UCLan PSYSOC Ethics Committee has approved the study: ‘Reactive and Proactive aggression: Factor Analysis of existing measures’. Unique Reference Number: PSYSOC  074_amendment.

Please Participate

My name is Rachel Schofield, I am a PHD student studying Forensic Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. My supervisor is Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan. I would be most grateful for help with my research, it would entail completing a questionnaire that should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. All participation is voluntary. My research is to explore Reactive and Proactive Aggression.

The purpose of the study is to investigate Reactive and Proactive Aggressive acts and Personality traits. Certain questions are of a sensitive nature such as aggressive acts and antisocial behaviour. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely.

All questions are for research purposes only and all answers are completely confidential.  The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationship between aggression and personality traits. The types of aggression are; emotionally driven (Reactive) and goal driven (Proactive). Questions will include your engagement in antisocial behaviour/acts – some of which are criminal offences; therefore some questions are of a sensitive nature. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely.  Please DO NOT write your name on the questionnaire as all answers are anonymous. Only group data will be used for this research and therefore no one can be identified by what they have written. You may withdraw from the study at any time up until your questionnaire is submitted. Upon completion of the questionnaire contact details for the researchers and sources of support will be provided.

If you are interested in participating please CLICK HERE

Thank you for your time and your participation is greatly appreciated.

Researcher: Rachel Schofield: Email

Supervisor: Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan: University of Central Lancashire


*RESEARCH* A Visual Moral Dilemma Experiment in PRESTON

Glen Carrigan visual Moral DilemmaMany people would love to think that when faced with a life of death decision, that they would do the right thing. But, is it really that simple? If you are in the PRESTON area and would like to see how you fare, we would really appreciate you taking part in the following experiment by booking in with one of our research assistants. Thank you.

During the following experiment you will be asked to fill in some basic demographic information, and take part in a study where you will be asked to respond to some visual demonstrations of ethical dilemmas. The visual demonstration will result in an ethical dilemma where a negative outcome will occur unless you choose to intervene, in which case a different negative outcome will take place. You will have a time limit to decide whether to intervene or not, you can choose not to act, or intervene by pulling a lever. Overall, we anticipate this will take you 5-10 minutes. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18. Read the rest of this entry

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