Awarded PHD in Cognitive Science

Cathleen Cortis, Research Officer for the multidisciplinary EU-funded grant, RECALL, was recently awarded a PhD from the University of Essex for her thesis 'Comparing The Immediate Free Recall of Verbal and Visuo-Spatial Stimuli: List Length, Capacity and Output Order Effects in Single- and Dual-Modality Tasks'.

Following a distinction-classified MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Essex, funded by Strategic Educational Pathways Scholarship, Cathleen Cortis embarked on and successfully completed the three-year PhD in Psychology, specialising in memory and cognition, funded by the Malta Government Scholarship Scheme.

In her PhD thesis, Cathleen Cortis pioneered a visuo-spatial free recall task and found gross similarities between verbal and visuo-spatial free recall. When combining the two tasks together, Dr Cortis also found that the way participants recall is more consistent with a domain-general approach to memory rather than a domain-specific one. This means that the maintenance of the order of events is more likely to be a common process that spans all types of stimuli at all timescales, and that verbal and visuo-spatial memory are therefore, not separate domain-specific mechanisms.

During her PhD, she was supervised by the Head of Department of Psychology at University of Essex, Prof Geoff Ward, who is an expert in immediate memory. Her second supervisor was Dr. Kevin Dent who specialises in visual cognition.

Some of Dr Cortis' work has been published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition and in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, with a number of other publications being submitted in the near future.

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