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Tracking the cognitive basis of social communication across the life-span


CogSoCoAGE is a five-year research project based at the University of Kent’s School of Psychology, funded by a European Research Council Starting grant (ERC-StG-2014) awarded to Dr Heather Ferguson. It is an interdisciplinary research project that aims to investigate the cognitive basis of social communication, and how this changes across the life-span. This research is particularly important and timely given the significant negative consequences of impairments in social communication. For example, misunderstanding another person’s meaning or intentions can cause one to take offence or restrict further interactions. Indeed, difficulties in social communication mediate a substantial decline in social participation in older adults, which in turn leads to isolation, loneliness and poor health.

CogSoCoAGE seeks to gain a fuller understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that underlie healthy ageing and social communication, and to explore promising new protocols to enhance the quality of social communication in older adults (thus improving their mental health and well-being) by training these cognitive skills. Establishing success using such an approach would reveal exciting opportunities for the future to apply tailored training methods to clinical populations who suffer impaired social skills (e.g. autism).

The team

Dr Heather Ferguson (Grant holder, PI)
Dr Victoria Brunsdon (Postdoctoral researcher, 2015-20)
Dr Lizzie Bradford (Postdoctoral researcher, 2016-20
Dr Matt Fysh (Postdoctoral researcher, 2018-19)
Martina De Lillo (PhD Student, 2016-19)

Past members

Chanel Carpenter (Postgraduate researcher, 2015-16)
Galina Donevska (Postgraduate researcher, 2015-16)
Claudia Lai (Postgraduate researcher, 2016-17)
Katerina Liassides (Postgraduate researcher, 2016-17)
Aiden Clark (Postgraduate researcher, 2017-18)
Tim Callen (Undergraduate researcher, 2016-17)
Isabelle Mortl (Undergraduate researcher, 2016-17)
Sopphire Anderson-Grey (Undergraduate researcher, 2017-18)
Sarah Derveeuw (Undergraduate researcher, 2017-18)
Kristina Sigetova (Undergraduate researcher, 2017-18)

Please get in touch with Heather if you are interested in joining the research team, as a postdoctoral researcher, PhD student, Master's student, or as an undergraduate research assistant.



Team photo






School of Psychology - Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP

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Last Updated: 06/06/2019