Maisy Best
PhD Research Student

Research

Research interests

I take a keen interest in broader research on the cognitive and neural mechanisms of self-control, behaviour change and health behaviours (e.g. food and alcohol consumption). Following completion of my PhD, I would like to pursue research translating basic lab-based research into behaviour change training interventions in 'real world' environments.  

Research projects

Project Title: Associatively-mediated response inhibition

Supervisors: Prof Frederick Verbruggen, Dr Fraser Milton

Funding Body: ESRC DTC 1+3

Project Description:

Response inhibition, the ability to withhold planned but contextually inappropriate actions, is often considered central to the concept of cognitive control. As a result, it is often assumed that response inhibition reflects a purely 'top-down' process. However, in recent years, there has been growing evidence that response inhibition, and cognitive control more generally, is not exclusively 'executive' in nature and, in actuality, there may be a substantial bottom-up component. The work of Verbruggen and Logan (2008) provides compelling evidence in favour of bottom-up, or 'automatic', response inhibition with the finding that responding is reliably delayed following the reversal of previously consistent stimulus-stop mappings. This suggests that, in addition to being initiated following the presentation of an explicit signal to stop (as is the case in the typical stop-signal paradigm), response inhibition can also be initiated associatively via the retrieval of consistent stimulus-stop mappings acquired during training. In addition to being theoretically interesting, recent years have also seen attempts to translate the principles of automatic response inhibition into practical uses with the demonstration that certain food and alcohol-related images can become associated with stopping.

However, to date, relatively little is understood about the basic (cognitive & neural) mechanisms involved response-inhibition training. Consequently,  it is currently difficult to identify many of the parameters that may determine the efficacy and longevity of response-inhibition training protocols to o reduce engagement in a variety of health-related behaviours, such as over-eating. 

The fundamental aim of my PhD is therefore to investigate how the brain learns to associate specific stimuli and stopping, and the situations under which learning influences behaviour. I use various combinations of behavioural and neuroscience methods, including electrophysiology, neuroimaging and eye-tracking.​ 

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