Professor Stephen Monsell
Professor of Cognitive Psychology


Research interests

Experimental cognitive psychology

  • Attention and performance, especially control of mental processes (also known as "executive function" or "attentional control"). My work focuses on control of "task-set" -- how we organise our minds/brains to perform a particular cognitive task, and how we switch between tasks.
  • Psycholinguistics: I have worked on recognition of written and spoken words, strategic control of routes in reading aloud, aspects of speech production (word selection, phonological encoding and articulatory programming), relation between speech input and speech output processing, phonological buffers in working memory, the bilingual lexicon.
  • Memory for recent occurrence, i.e. knowing that one has seen someone/something recently.

The majority of my work has used chronometric behavioural measures with normal adult subjects, and (in collaboration with Aureliu Lavric and Heike Elchlepp) EEG/ERP.  But I have collaborated in projects studiying brain-damaged patients, and using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and eyetracking in normal adults.

Research projects

For the last 20 years of so, my main research interest had been control of task-set, studied largely through experiments on task-switching.  Current projects focus on:

  • the attentional component of task-set;
  • attention to voices;
  • task-set acqusition.

Active areas of psycholinguistic research include word production, and language switching.

A recent project (with my colleague Ian McLaren) investigated memory for recent occurrence: for example, how do we know we last saw the person now walking past the window just a few minutes ago?


Research grants

  • 2017 Leverhulme Trust
    Emeritus Fellowship: An investigation of task set acquisition

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