Harriet Dempsey-Jones

I am a researcher in the field of cognitive psychology currently working between the University of Oxford and University College London. This means I look at how our brains and particular cognitive processes cause our subjective psychological and perceptual experience. My research looks at how the body processes touch and other sensory inputs. Particularly, I am interested in plasticity in the area of the brain that processes sensory inputs from your body - the somatosensory cortex. I look at how this system is shaped by adding or removing sensory inputs. For example, I look at how daily activity (the way our bodies move and how we interact with the world) causes patterns of sensory input that shape the body map in the brain. I also look at how we can directly improve perception by adding input through training - sensory enhancement. On the other side of the coin, I am also interested in understanding the effects of sensory deprivation. What happens to the brain and, subsequently, to perception when you remove sensory inputs? I look at this on short-term timescale using anaesthetics and on a longer timescale by working with people who have experienced amputation of one or more limbs. In my PhD at the University of Queensland I looked at how our brains combine sensory inputs from our eyes, ears, skin etc. to form a coherent perception of the world and our bodies. My undergraduate studies were in psychology where I covered a diversity of topics related to perceptual, cognitive, social, neuroscience, business and statistical aspects of psychological research. I also love teaching, and has taught a variety of courses at my various universities on neuroscience, physiology and psychology.

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