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ARC Successes

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Congratulations to our colleagues who have recently been awarded funds by the ARC.

Discovery Projects

Professor Anne Castles, Cognitive Science (with Professor Kate Nation University of Oxford, UK, and Professor Gareth Gaskell University of York, UK)

Title: Making words stick: Lexical consolidation effects in learning to read
Summary To become skilled readers, children need to move from sounding words out to recognising them rapidly via access to rich, long-term memory representations. Little is known about how this transition is achieved, and why some children have difficulty. This project aims to address these questions in a set of learning studies with typically-developing and reading-impaired children, focussing particularly on the long-term consolidation of word representations. The project will explore the role of sleep in promoting the consolidation process, in both children and adults. The findings are expected to directly inform theory and practice in reading acquisition and enhance the treatment of reading difficulties.

Professor Dick Stevenson, Psychology (with Professor Bob Boakes - University of Sydney, Dr Megan Oaten - Griffith University, and Professor Martin Yeomans - University of Sussex, UK) Title: Western-style diet and impairments in food-intake control in humans

Summary: Animals fed a Western-style (W-S) diet high in saturated fat and added sugar rapidly develop cognitive impairments, which include disrupted food-intake control. This project aims to see if this also occurs in lean healthy people who eat a W-S diet. That is, are W-S diets associated with impaired cognition, and especially food-intake control, in adults and children, and is this caused by a W-S diet? Obesity is a major public health issue and the significance of this project lies in testing a new account of how overeating may first occur. The expected outcome aims to show that a W-S diet can disrupt various aspects of cognition in adults and children, including food-intake control, providing an entirely new basis to argue for a better diet.

Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Dr Celia Harris, Cognitive Science

Title: What are the active ingredients of successful shared remembering?
Summary: Older couples remember more together than apart, but little is known about mechanisms underlying such collaborative benefits. Collaborative remembering may have therapeutic value in age-related cognitive decline and dementia, providing cost-effective, readily-available memory support. However there are several 'active ingredients' that may underlie collaborative benefits and not all of these will be equally effective or translatable into therapy. This project aims to identify and evaluate these active ingredients, teasing apart 'what', 'who' and 'how'. Testing younger and older couples, healthy and in early stages of decline, this project aims to generate new knowledge and provide a basis for future therapies utilising collaborative remembering.

Dr Michael Proctor, Linguistics

Title: Solving the puzzle of complex speech sounds

Summary: Speech sounds that fall into the 'l' and 'r' family of consonants ('liquids') are amongst the most difficult to master, both for children learning their first language and for learners of a second. This is because liquids are highly complex and require finely tuned, and language specific, coordination of articulatory gestures. The details of this complexity remain poorly understood, posing significant challenges for remediation of speech errors and for effective pedagogy in language learning. This project aims to use state-of-the-art articulatory methods to examine liquids in four typologically distinct languages of increasing importance in modern Australian society to lay essential foundations for future work on remediation and instruction.

Professor Dick Stevenson (Psychology) - on a project lead by Dr Megan Oaten through Griffith University

Title: Testing a disease-avoidance account of stigmatization.

Summary: The aim of this project is to test a disease avoidance model of stigmatisation. Stigmatisation is characterised by chronic avoidance of a person(s) by other people. Infectious disease may produce an apparently similar form of isolation— disease avoidance. This project proposes that many forms of stigmatisation reflect the activation of this disease avoidance system, which is predisposed to respond to signs of disease, irrespective of their accuracy. This will represent a significant shift in thinking about this issue and aims to provide the first empirically based model of stigmatisation as an evolved disposition that causes the exclusion of people who look like they may carry an infectious disease - even if they do not.

Dr Michael Proctor (Linguistics) - on a project lead by Dr Mark Harvey through the University of Newcastle

Title: Kaytetye and Prosodic Theory

Summary:  This project addresses a central question about language. How well do we understand the structure of syllables and words? The project aims to examine the Australian language (Kaytetye), the unusual word and syllable structure of which suggests that models of syllable and word structure may require significant revision. The project aims to consider the implications of Kaytetye sound structure for general theories of phonology, and more importantly for ideas about universals in language. The project involves extensive documentation of Kaytetye, which is an endangered language. The project is expected to provide a detailed description of Kaytetye sound structures and articles addressing the implications of these findings for phonological theory.

For a full list of ARC recipients please see this link.

Congratulations to all involved in the preparation and submission of these grants.

Congratulations also to those staff named as Chief Investigators on projects awarded through other institutions.