Q & A with Dr Oliver Kannape
Lecturer in Cognitive Neuroscience
School of Psychology
What is your background in psychology?
My background is actually a combination of engineering and cognitive science. I did my undergraduate degree in Information Engineering, which is a mix of computer science and electrical engineering. During the course of my degree I realised I was more interested in applying these methods to help gain a better understanding of human behaviour. This led me to pursue a MSc degree in Cognitive Science and ultimately a PhD in Neuroscience.
How long have you been at UCLan and what do you think of it?
I’ve been here for two and a half years and I think it’s the complete package. You can do research, teaching, and there is a lot of support from everyone. The University is always evolving which opens up plenty of opportunities. For me personally I do a combination of research and teaching. I like this idea of having the balance between the two as I think it’s important to get students involved in research early on in their degree and the best way of doing that is through research informed teaching.
What are your teaching responsibilities?
I mainly teach modules in cognitive psychology and neuroscience but when it ties in to my background knowledge I also help with other areas such as health psychology. So, for example through my work with amputees I can help with content around this topic.
Which aspect of psychology fascinates you the most?
I’m interested in how our brain builds a representation of our body and how that ties into the control of our movements but also the experience of our ‘selves’. So with amputees it’s interesting because you can actually help people through your research. You also gain a unique insight into the body-brain relationship that can be used to investigate how the prosthesis can be integrated into the body schema.
Does your work ever involve athletes?
A number of the amputees you work with are amputees who have had traumatic injuries, sometimes participating in sports such as Skiing, and these are usually the ones who want to help with research. As I have a general interest in sensorimotor control I also help teach that side of things on the sport psychology modules.
From your experiences, are there any differences between the research abroad and here?
Before coming here, I was at MIT in Cambridge, USA, and at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Both of these are research focused universities. In that respect, the work environment here is different. We aren’t specifically research focused. That said, I am continuing my research into the same topic areas here at UCLan and through international collaborations with these institutions.
Any advice to prospective psychology students?
One of the main pieces of advice is to look at all the research that is going on at UCLan at the minute and try to be as engaged as possible. This will not only make your course more enjoyable but will also really help when you get to third year and you have to decide what you’re going to do for your final project.