Dr. Graham Pluck
Minds, Brains, & Internationalism

Clinical Cognitive Sciences Lab

My Lab is focused on clinical cognitive sciences research. We combine knowledge from cognitive and neurosciences to applied contexts, particularly clinical issues. The lab is currently based in the Faculty of Psychology at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. It was previously based at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), in Ecuador, and was part of the Institute of Neurosciences, which I also directed.

Founded in May 2014, the lab has provided research opportunities for numerous local research students as well as interns who came for research experience from the USA and Europe. Indeed, the lab has always been very diverse, with guests from Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA, etc. The lab also organizes academic seminars throughout the academic semesters. These ‘Brain Meetings’ bring guest scientists to the Lab to present their research, and these have been similarly international. Over the years we have hosted presenters from many renowned research institutes including. University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Harvard University Medical School, University of Geneva, and Heidelberg University, as well as local researchers presenting on a wide range of topics in psychology and brain sciences. A list of past Brain Meetings organized by the lab can be viewed here.

Logo of the Clinical Cognitive Sciences Lab

The research focus is primarily behavioral, using established and experimental tests of cognitive function. Data collected at the lab has been published in journals such as Cognition, Applied Neuropsychology, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, eNeurologicalSci, and Brain Sciences. The lab’s work is focused on understanding cognitive and social-cognitive function in clinical contexts and in the real world. The lab’s four principal lines of research are:

How variation in cognitive and neurobehavioral traits relate to socioeconomic deprivation/privilege.
Tudor Hart's Inverse Care Law highlights how the most in need have the least access to health care. This is particularly true regarding cognitive development and impairment.  Our studies include work with homeless adults and street-connected youth, showing how socioeconomic status influences neuropsychological test performance. Language skill is an important topic in this field, and how it relates to other cognitive factors such as general intelligence, memory, and executive function. This line of research provides important information on how society functions, or perhaps, should function.

Neurobehavioral and cognitive predictors of achievement.
This includes using standard tests of intelligence, executive functions, and biological traits (such as hand preference), to predict real-life performance in challenging environments (such as in school, college, or the workplace). Also, how interventions with 'at risk' individuals may improve cognition and life chances. This provides important information, from real-world contexts, about how the human mind produces high-level organization of behavior, and has multiple practical implications, such as in educational and organizational psychology. 

Development and validation of cognitive assessments for use in with non-WEIRD populations.
Most neuropsychological and cognitive function tests are not validated for used in non-WEIRD contexts (i.e., Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic; Henrich et al., 2010). This limits the ability of clinicians to detect and measure impairments. We therefore provide this test development, which helps our own research, as well as contributing to research, clinical, and educational work in the country. Some of these tests are available to download on this website, on the Tests page. 

Estimation of premorbid function.
The ability to estimate the pre-illness cognitive level of individuals is an important technique in clinical cognitive assessment, and it is also very useful in research. Furthermore, it is an important step in personalising identification of cognitive strengths and impairments, allowing clinicians to move away from the comparison of individuals to population averages. In the lab, we have developed several methods to estimate premorbid ability, which we have published in psychology and neuroscience journals.

However, we are usually flexible, and have recently collaborated on other studies including in computer science and education. If you’d like to discuss a research idea, please feel free to message me via the Contact page

Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world?. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61-83.