COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE

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PhD, MA, BAHons, BA

Working memory; Executive Functions; Multilingualism; Creativity; Intelligence

DIVISION LEADER

Kate Cockcroft

Kate Cockcroft is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand. She obtained both her Masters and PhD from Wits University. Her research and teaching are situated in the overlapping areas of Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology and Psychological Assessment. Kate's scholarly work focuses on the role of working memory in learning, development, language and creativity.  Her research investigates how these processes develop and are assessed in typical monolingual and multilingual children and young adults, as well as in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and HIV. Related to this is the promise of working memory assessments as an equitable means of tapping the cognitive abilities and potential of children and young adults from diverse socio-economic, cultural and language backgrounds. Full publication list: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6166-8050

 

RESEARCH

Working Memory Across The Lifespan

This ongoing project is investigating ways in which working memory processes develop and are assessed in typical monolingual and multilingual children and young adults, as well as in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and HIV. Related to this is the promise of working memory assessments as an equitable means of tapping the cognitive abilities and potential of children and young adults from diverse socio-economic, cultural and language backgrounds. Projects explore the structure of working memory in childhood and young adulthood and how these processes are affected by bilingualism and multilingualism; the efficacy of a working memory intervention in improving and maintaining positive academic and executive functioning outcomes in children with HIV, and the relationship between working memory functioning and creativity. 

These projects have been funded by the National Research Foundation.

Neuropsychological Assessment

This section features research into neurocognitive assessment methods and instruments, with a specific focus on their use in low resource, multicultural and multilingual settings, as well as other contexts that are not WEIRD (Westernised, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and/or Developed). 

Books
2013

Laher, S. & Cockcroft, K. (Eds.) (2013). Psychological Assessment in South Africa: Research and Applications. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

2009

Watts, J., Cockcroft, K & Duncan, N. (Eds.) (2009). Developmental Psychology (2nd ed.). Lansdowne: UCT Press.

Journal Articles

Cockcroft, K., Wigdorowitz, M., & Liversage, L. (in press). A multilingual advantage in the components of working memory. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. Available online first: doi:10.1017/S1366728917000475

2017

Davies, L.A., Cockcroft, K., Olinger, L., Chersich, M., Urban, M., Chetty Makkan, C.M., Turnbull, O.H., Olivier, L., & Viljoen, D. (2017). Alcohol exposure during pregnancy altered childhood developmental trajectories in a rural South African community. Acta Paediatrica: Nurturing the Child, 106 (11), 1802-1810.

Milligan, R. & Cockcroft, K. (2017). Working memory profiles in HIV-exposed, uninfected and HIV-infected children: A comparison with neurotypical controls. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11 (348), 1-13.

Theron, L., Cockcroft, K., & Wood, L. (2017). The resilience-enabling value of African stories: The Read-me-to-Resilience intervention. School Psychology International, 38 (5), 491-506.

Laher, S. & Cockcroft, K. (2017). Moving from culturally biased to culturally responsive assessment practices in low resource, multicultural settings. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(2), 115-121.

2016

Völkel, G., Seabi, J., Cockcroft, K., & Goldschagg, P. (2016). The impact of gender, socio-economic status and home language on primary school children’s reading comprehension in KwaZulu-Natal. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13 (322), 1-11.

Cockcroft, K., Bloch, L. & Moolla, A. (2016). Assessing verbal functioning in South African school beginners from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds: A comparison between verbal working memory and vocabulary measures. Education as Change, 20 (1), 112-128.

2015

Cockcroft, K. (2015). The role of working memory in childhood education: Five questions and answers. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 5(1), 1-18.

Cockcroft, K., Alloway, T., Copello, E. & Milligan, R. (2015). A cross-cultural comparison between South African and British students on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales Third Edition (WAIS-III). Frontiers in Psychology, 6(297), 1-11.

2014

Laher, S. & Cockcroft, K. (2014). Psychological assessment in post-apartheid South Africa: The way forward. South African Journal of Psychology: Special Edition on Psychology in Post-apartheid South Africa, 44(3), 303-314.

Alloway, T. & Cockcroft, K. (2014).Working memory in ADHD: A comparison of British and South African children. Journal of Attention Disorders: Special Issue on Working Memory, 18(4), 286-293.

2013

Seabi, J., Cockcroft, K., Goldschagg, P., Greyling, M. (2013). A prospective follow-up study of the effects of chronic aircraft noise exposure on learners’ reading comprehension in South Africa. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 13, 1-5.

Seabi, J., Cockcroft, K., Goldschagg, P., & Greyling, M. (2013). Longitudinal effects of exposure to chronic noise on school children. International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, 4 (8), 1046-1054.

Cockcroft, K. & Dhana-Dhallab, H. (2013). Deaf children and children with ADHD in the inclusive classroom:  Working memory matters. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(10), 1023-1039.

2012

Cockcroft, K. & Alloway, T. (2012). Phonological awareness and working memory: A comparison between South African and British children. Southern African Journal of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 30(1), 13-24.

Seabi, J., Cockcroft, K., Goldschagg, P., & Greyling, M. (2012). The impact of aircraft noise exposure on South African children’s reading comprehension: The moderating effect of home language. Noise and Health, 14 (60), 244-252.

2011

Cockcroft, K. (2011). Working memory functioning in children with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A comparison between subtypes and normal controls. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 23 (2), 107-118.

Book Chapters

Laher, S. & Cockcroft, K. (in press). Teaching psychological assessment in South Africa:

Contextually relevant adaptations. Teaching Psychology around the World (Vol. 4).

Cockcroft, K. & Laher, S. (in press). Assessing language proficiency in multilingual South African students using the Language Experience and Proficiency Questionnaire (LEAP-Q). Teaching Psychology around the World (Vol. 4).

Cockcroft, K., Goldschagg, P. & Seabi, J. (in press). Longitudinal research: From theory to application. In A. Fynn, S. Laher, & S. Kramer (Eds.), Transforming Research Methods in the Social Sciences: Case Studies form South Africa. Wits University Press.

2017

Cockcroft, K. (2017). Working memory in the classroom (pp.353-364). In Ramrathan, L., Le Grange, L. & Higgs, P. (Eds.), Educational Studies for Initial Teacher Development. Cape Town: Juta Press.

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BAHons, MA

Teaching practice, application of research theory

Nicky Israel

Nicky Israel is a senior tutor in the Department of Psychology in the School of Human and Community Development at the University of the Witwatersrand. She obtained her Masters and recently her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research and teaching are situated in cognitive psychology, research methods and design, and industrial/ organisational psychology. Her scholarly work focuses on teaching practice as well as cognitive assessment and the application of research theory. Some of the recent projects she has been involved with include explorations of analogical problem solving, generational identity in the workplace, and graduateness.

 

RESEARCH

Dr Nicky Israel’s research interests span a number of areas in cognitive, educational, and industrial/ organisational psychology. Specific topics of interest include: problem-solving and intelligence; innovation and creativity; teaching and learning (e.g. learning styles; motivation; factors affecting performance; academic development); graduateness; people in the workplace (e.g. work-family balance; employer attractiveness; workplace generations; OCB; CSR; job satisfaction; workplace performance); programme evaluation; research design; psychometrics and assessment; and general cognitive psychology.

Publications
2015

Rascher, C. & Israel, N. (2015). Linking information processing style preference, statistical reasoning, and statistical performance in Psychology students. New Voices in Psychology, 11 (1), 112-128.  

2011

Cockcroft, K., & Israel, N. (2011). The Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices: A comparison of relationships with verbal ability tests. South African Journal of Psychology, 41 (3), 363-372.

2010

Payne, J., & Israel, N. (2010). Beyond teaching practice: Exploring individual determinants of student performance on a research skills module. Learning and Individual Differences, 20 (3), 260-264.

2009

Cockcroft, K., & Israel, N. (2009). Intellectual Development. In J. Watts, K. Cockcroft & N. Duncan (Eds.). Developmental Psychology (2nd Ed.) (pp. 344-364). Cape Town: Juta/UCT Press.

Thatcher, A., Mooney, G., Israel, N., Cockcroft, K., & De Groot, M. (2009). Attendance and academic performance in psychology tertiary education lectures in South Africa. In S. McCarthy, V. Karandashev, M. Stevens, A. Thatcher, J. Jaafar, K. Moore, A. Trapp, & C. Brewer (Eds.). Teaching Psychology Around the World (Vol. 2) (pp. 166-185). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publ.

2007

Laher, S., Israel, N., & Pitman, M. (2007). Teaching research and statistics at undergraduate level: The RDA tutorial programme. South African Journal of Psychology, 37 (2), 368-374.

Israel, N., Pitman, M., & Greyling, M. (2007). Engaging critical thinking: Lessons from the RDA tutorials and projects. South African Journal of Psychology, 37 (2), 375-382.

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PhD, MSc, BScHons, BSc

Teaching practice, application of research theory

Andrew May

Andrew May is a postdoctoral fellow at the Sydney Brenner Institute of Molecular Biosciences (SBIMB) at the University of the Witwatersrand. He holds a BSc with majors in genetics, biochemistry and psychology, an Honours and Masters degree in human genetics,  and a PhD in psychology. Prior to starting as a postdoctoral fellow in 2020, Andrew worked for eight years as a lecturer and medical scientist at the National Health Laboratory Service, in the Wits Division of Human Genetics.

 

RESEARCH

Andrew’s research focuses on how genetic variation impacts individual differences in health and behaviour.  He is specifically interested in the field of Environmental Sensitivity, which combines genetics, developmental, and evolutionary psychology to explain why humans (and other animals) differ in their neurological sensitivity to environmental stimulation. Andrew is also interested in the interdisciplinary research fields of behaviour genetics and molecular psychiatry.

Publications
2020

Andrew K. May, Shane A. Norris, Linda M. Richter and Michael M. Pitman (2020). A psychometric evaluation of the Highly Sensitive Person Scale in ethnically and culturally heterogeneous South African samples. Current Psychology, Published online 6 August 2020

2018

Wenlong Carl Chen, Robyn Kerr, Andrew May, Babongile Ndlovu, Anelisa Sobalisa, Sanelisiwe T. Duze, Lavania Joseph, Christopher G. Mathew, Chantal Babb de Villiers (2018). The integrity and yield of genomic DNA isolated from whole blood following long-term storage at -30˚C. Biopreservation and Biobanking 16(2), 106-113.

2013

Andrew May, Scott Hazelhurst, Yali Li, Shane A. Norris, Nimmisha Govind, Mohammed Tikly, Claudia Hon, Keith J. Johnson, Nicole Hartmann, Frank Staedtler, Michèle Ramsay.  (2013) Genetic diversity in black South Africans from Soweto. BMC Genomics 14: 644

2013

Andrew May, John M. Pettifor , Shane A. Norris, Michèle Ramsay and Zané Lombard (2013). Genetic factors influencing bone mineral content in a black South African population. Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism 31(6), 706-716

Submitted

Andrew K. May and Michael M. Pitman (submitted). The association between Sensory Processing Sensitivity, the Five-Factor Model and University Adjustment amongst South African University Students.

Andrew K. May, Zané Lombard, Shane A. Norris, Linda M. Richter and Michael M. Pitman (submitted). Multiple Markers of Environmental Sensitivity Influence Childhood Adjustment in a South African Birth Cohort.

Submitted
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PhD, MA, BAHons, BA

Neuroanatomy and Brain Evolution; Cognitive Neuroscience.

Victoria Williams

Victoria Williams is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Psychology Department, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She has obtained degrees across disciplines, resulting in a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the human brain. In 2010, Victoria completed a BA in Humanties, majoring in Anthropology and Psychology, followed by an Honours (2011) and Masters in Anthropology (2014), at the University of Johannesburg, which provided deeper insight into the evolution of working memory in humans. In 2020, she received her PhD in Anatomical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Wits. The doctorate focused on the location and distribution of the orexinergic, serotonergic, catecholaminergic, and cholinergic systems in the brain of the lar gibbon and chimpanzee. The data obtained from this study has provided further insight into the anatomy and evolution of these clinically important neuromodulatory systems in the brain of apes, including humans. Victoria's skills and expertise include Immunohistochemistry, Brain Dissection, Stereology, EEG/ERP and Analysis.  

 

RESEARCH

Currently, Victoria's research focuses on the effects of multilingualism on working memory capacity in young, cognitively healthy adults, using electroencephalogy (EEG) and event-related potentials (ERPs) methodology. Victoria also serves as a reviewer for impactful journals, such as the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology.

Publications

Swiegers, J., Bhagwandin, A., Williams, V.M., Maseko, B.C., Sherwood, C.C., Hård, T., Bertlsen, M.F., Rockland, K.S., Molnár, & Manger, P.R. The distribution, number and certain neurochemical identities of infracortical white matter neurons in a chimpanzee brain. Journal of Comparative Neurology: submitted.

Submitted
Submitted

Williams, V.M., Bhagwandin, A., Swiegers, J., Bertelsen, M.F., Hård, T., Thannickal, T.C., Siegel, J.M., Sherwood, C.C., & Manger, P.R. Anatomy of the orexinergic system of apes: lar gibbon and common chimpanzee. Journal of Comparative Neurology: submitted.

Submitted

Williams, V.M., Bhagwandin, A., Swiegers, J., Bertelsen, M.F., Hård, T., Sherwood, C.C., & Manger, P.R. (2020). Anatomy of the serotonergic system of apes: lar gibbon and common chimpanzee. Journal of Comparative Neurology: submitted.

Submitted

Williams, V.M., Bhagwandin, A., Swiegers, J., Bertelsen, M.F., Hård, T., Sherwood, C.C., & Manger, P.R. (2020). Anatomy of the cholinergic system of apes: lar gibbon and common chimpanzee. Journal of Comparative Neurology: submitted.

Submitted

Williams, V.M., Bhagwandin, A., Coimbra, J.P., Swiegers, J., Bertelsen, M.F., Hård, T., Sherwood, C.C., & Manger, P.R. (2020). Anatomy of the catecholaminergic system of apes: lar gibbon and common chimpanzee. Journal of Comparative Neurology: submitted. 

2019

Aminu, I., Barakat, O.S., Aboyegi, L.O., Samson, C., Williams V., & Moyosore, S.A. 2019a. Mitigating oxidative events in chlorpyrifos poisoning is essential in preserving cholinesterase and motor functions in rats. IBRO Reports 7: 2-51. 

2019

Aminu I., Alakoso, J., Williams, V., Chengetani, S., Oyewole, L.A., et al. (2019b). Nigella sativa oil protected the hippocampus against AChE and oxidative dysfunctions-driven impaired working memory in rats. Bulletin of Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University 57: 25-34.

2018

Aminu I., Abideen L., Aboyeji OL., Iyiola AM., Williams V., et al. (2018a) Nigella sativa conserved hippocampal oxidative and neurogenic activities to salvage neuro-cognitive integrities in chlorpyrifos insult. Scientific African 1: 1-10.

2018

Aminu I., Nafeesah A.S., Lukuman Aboyeji O., Chengetani, S., Williams V., et al. (2018b). Oxidative and neurogenic damages severed neuro-cognitive deficits following induced ChE depletions: Chlorpyrifos and Dichlorvos insults. Toxics 1: 71.

2020

Andrew K. May, Shane A. Norris, Linda M. Richter and Michael M. Pitman (2020). A psychometric evaluation of the Highly Sensitive Person Scale in ethnically and culturally heterogeneous South African samples. Current Psychology, Published online 6 August 2020

2018

Aminu,I., Suliman, N., Oyewole, A., Chengetanai, S., Williams, V., et al. (2018c). Chlorpyrifos- and Dichlorvos-induced oxidative and neurogeneic damage elicits neuro-cognitive deficits and increases anxiety-like behaviour in wild-type rats. Toxics 6: 1-17.

2015

Lombard, M., Williams, V.M.E., Bornman, E. 2015. Patterned bead-stringing in the Middle Stone Age: a pilot neuroarchaeological study. (Revised Honours Report).

2014

Williams, V.M.E., Burke, A. & Lombard, M. 2014. Throwing spears and shooting arrows: preliminary results of a pilot neuroarchaeological study. South African Archaeological Bulletin 69 (200): 199-207