I completed a BSc from the University of Liverpool in 2003, examining recognition memory processes in a final year project under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Mayes and Prof. Daniella Montaldi. After a year teaching English and Psychology at Hubei University in Wuhan, China, I moved to Leeds to complete a Masters in ‘Memory and its Disorders’ at the Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds. I subsequently undertook a PhD at Leeds supervised by Prof. Catriona Morrison and Prof. Martin Conway on the link between remembering the past and imagining the future. At CON AMORE (Aarhus University) I explored how future thoughts that come to mind without conscious intent- involuntarily future representations (or, “flash forwards”)- differ from voluntary forms of mental time travel. Currently, at York St. John University, my interests lie in the areas of amnesia, pulvinar damage, dreams, identity, involuntary thoughts and how some of these topics intersect with future thinking.
My principle research interests are in exploring the cognitive processes allowing humans to imagine specific future scenarios.
Imagining the Future My research focusses on the cognitive and memory-based characteristics that allow humans to imagine the future. Following groundbreaking studies by Daniel Schacter/Donna Addis and Arnaud D’Argembeau linking remembering and imagining, my research attempts to develop a more nuanced understanding of how a range of people imagine the future. In a recent study co-authored by Natalie Gill, Martin Conway and Catriona Morrison, we found that altering the time allowed to imagine the future does not affect the specificity of the future event and confirmed previous results indicating that episodic and semantic elements of future imaginings can be dissociated. I am interested in how ageing and neurological disorders can affect the ability to imagine the future, and how these changes lead to everyday life difficulties. My current research is looking into how involuntary future thoughts differ from those elicited voluntarily, and whether they are affected by one’s current goals.
Cognitive Neuropsychology Originating from a passion for understanding the cognitive difficulties and personal experiences of patients following acquired brain injury, I have a keen interest in researching common and infrequent disorders following brain damage. I am particularly interested in memory disorders such as amnesia, dementia and confabulation. I have recently conducted a study of a stroke patient who confabulated about past and future events (Cole, Fotopoulou, Oddy & Moulin, 2014) and a patient whose memory difficulties has led to a sparse and outdated view of his personal future (Cole, Morrison, Barak, Pauly-Takacs & Conway, 2016). I am continuing detailed case studies that reveal unique aspects of future thinking.