Cognitive Neuroscience studies the brain basis of perception, cognition and action. In the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at UniSA, we attempt to understand human cognitive abilities and how they are implemented in the brain by focusing particularly on their diversity. How do they differ across individuals and cultures or change across the lifespan and with neurodegenerative disease? How are they modulated or consolidated during sleep?
We examine these questions, in part, by investigating basic principles that underlie brain function. In the lab, we run a number of studies investigating questions fundamental to our understanding of how the brain perceives and interprets stimuli in our environment. We are particularly interested in neural adaptation, the phenomenon whereby a neural population responds less to repeated stimuli; neurovascular coupling, the relationship between neuronal function and cerebrovascular supply; and the relationship between endogenous event-related brain potentials and the major neurotransmitter systems of the human brain. In addition, we study basic mechanisms of information processing in the auditory system, the mechanisms that control spatial attention and how they interact with numerical cognition, as well as the neurophysiological processes of sleep and their relation to cognition. 
Furthermore, we conduct research in the following main areas of specialisation:

   The Neurobiology of Language (Prof. Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky): Among human cognitive abilities, language is singular in its diversity: approximately 7000 living languages are in use in the world today. We aim to understand how the human brain processes these diverse structures and use emerging cross-linguistic generalisations to inform the development of a neurobiologically grounded model of language processing (eADM). In addition to drawing on insights from language comparative research, the current version of the eADM is based on neurobiological design principles gleaned from animal models of the auditory system.

  The Cognitive Neuroscience of Ageing (Dr. Hannah Keage): Cognitive performance declines in adulthood; however the pattern of decline varies markedly across cognitive domains and between individuals. In the lab, we aim to identify functional brain mechanisms underlying cognitive decline. Further, some individuals are more resilient to the cognitive effects of brain ageing, and therefore, we aim to determine the functional brain mechanisms underlying this protective effect (the concept of Cognitive Reserve). 

  The Cognitive Neuroscience of Sleep (Dr. Mark Kohler): Sleep occupies much of our existence yet its fundamental role in cognitive functions remains unclear. We investigate the impact of disturbed sleep on cognitive functioning and emotional regulation and the underlying neurophysiology of such effects. Furthermore, we seek to understand the mechanisms by which normal sleep processes promote cognitive performance and learning across the lifespan.

   Rehabilitation Neuroscience (Dr. Tobias Loetscher): Every ten minutes someone in Australia suffers a stroke. Many stroke survivors are left with disabling cognitive impairments. We aim to understand the mechanisms underlying these impairments and to optimize cognitive rehabilitation interventions.



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