Autumn Update: FESN 2023, new paper published

It has been a busy summer for the MotorBias project with lots of progress on several projects. Alexis’ main focus has been the Dunhill Medical Trust project on Attention and Memory in PSP and Parkinsons’ disease, which reached a notable milestone when we reached our recruitment target of 27 for the Parkinsons group. This excellent achievement is thanks due to the fantastic efforts of Susan Wilson at Sunderland Royal and Bryony Storey at Gateshead who have provided us with a steady stream of willing volunteers, and of course the participants themselves whose time and effort we are very grateful for!  Dan has also been busy with the PSP project, running very some very informative PPI sessions with Susan at Sunderland Royal to get feedback on the potential for a project exploring prism use in PSP.

Another highlight of the summer  was the Federation of European Neuropsychology Societies 2023, where we were  fortunate to be joined by Prof Chrystalina Antonaides and Dr Luca Wollenberg in the city of Thessalonki  for a symposium on “Visual cognition and oculomotor control in neurodegenerative disease” organized by Dan and Thomas.  Alexis presented a preliminary analysis of the visual search tasks, reporting that people with PSP find visual searh significantly more challenging than people with Parkinsons’ disease. Chrystalina outlined her recent advances in using measures of oculomotor control to track progression of Parkinson’s disease and Luca who explained his exciting research showing decoupling of attention and saccades after training. Although unfortunately Prof Trevor Crawford wasn’t able to join as planned, the symposium produced lively discussion in the session and at the symposium dinner afterwards. We’re very hopeful that some the seeds of ideas planted over dinner and well watered with Greek beer will grow into future collaborations!

Overall the conference was very good with some some thought provoking keynotes. Alfredo Spagna gave a particularly compelling talk arguing against a functional role for V1 in mental imagery. Unfortunately the poster sessions were a great disappointment. Posters were electronic, but with only three display screens it was impossible to browse the posters at leisure, which is one of the great pleasures of a conference. It also severely limited the time Dan had to present the results of the VSWM and social cognition tasks, which was very frustrating. You can see the poster at the bottom of this page.

Other notable events during the summer included Siobhan getting a new job with Dr Robert Hardwick in Leuven, Belgium, a new publication from in PLOSONE in which Dan demonstrated the existence of a presaccadic perceptual impairment at the post-saccadic location of the blindspot (Smith Beierholm & Avery 2023), Shuzhe completing her masters project looking at the effect of varying cue spatial frequency on the temporal profile of exogenous attention, and Soazig submitting a paper on eye-movements and aesthetic appreciation to JoV. With the start of term imminent we’re looking forward to welcoming a our new cohort of UG and masters students and getting on with more exciting projects.

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