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  • Philip Barnard

Research Scientist Emotion Group

Picture of Phil in garden

Contact Details

MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit 15 Chaucer Road Cambridge CB2 7EF

tel.: +44 1223 355294 ext. 610

fax: +44 1223 355062


Within the Emotion Group Programme I now work mainly on Executive Control and Emotional Meanings in Cognitive and Neural systems. The work is organised under three project headings:

[a] Core Theoretical work on Interacting Cognitive Subsystems.

[b] Schematic models and executive mode – in both healthy participants and those with psychopathology (including anxiety, depression, mania and schizophrenia).

[c] Brain networks underlying affective representations and executive control in healthy participants, patients with frontal lesions and dementia.

In addition to the core funded programme, I also have a number of interdisciplinary collaborations. With two groups of computer scientists I am working on the modelling of mental architecture and affect; with biologists/comparative psychologists/archaeologists I am working on the evolution of our mental architecture; and in an arts-science collaboration with choreographers, I am do a small amount of work on choreographic cognition, movement and emotion. We have just started work on a project on counteracting cognitive-affective deficits in dementia funded by Microsoft Research and using SenseCam

Some notes about Interacting Cogntive Subsystems

My interests lie in the development of useful cognitive theory and by that I mean a theory of broad scope and practical applicability. Most theories in psychology try to explain a narrow range of phenomena in a particular area of mental competence, like memory, language understanding or visual attention. Such theories can be thought of as Micro-theories in the sense that they address only parts of the full range of mental capabilities. In most practical contexts all these mental competencies work together. Although many theories have something to say about how one kind of mental capability relates to another, few do so in a balanced way - i.e. at an equivalent level of detail. I have been concerned to develop a form of Macro-theory which seeks to do just that. Macro-theory is aimed at understanding how all the different components of the mental mechanism are configured, what representations those components use and the overall dynamics of their interactions in real time. The particular theory that I've been developing is called Interacting Cognitive Subsystems - or ICS.

Drawing of ICS

The idea of developing macro-theory is, like attempts in AI to build unified theories of cognition, a challenging and ambitious project. Its development and progress cannot, by its very nature, be focused on a small range of empirical paradigms. Partly because I have been interested in developing theory that can be used in practical domains, like clinical psychology, or the design of technology, my research has an unusual character - it encompasses a lot of different textbook topics.

The theory assumes that our mental architecture is composed of nine subsystems. Each subsystem has the same internal structure. Information arrives in a subsystem, is copied into an image record and is transformed for use in another subsystem.

The subsystems differ in their inputs and outputs - they each specialise in storing and processing a qualitatively different form of mental representation.

ICS stresses that mental activity occurs in mulitple domains at the same time - that is concurrently.

The key ideas behind ICS are really quite simple. Nonetheless with 9 subsystems, each with multiple components, its still very hard to think about how a complex system like that depicted in the adjacent figure actually works.

Representative References

People interested in learning more about ICS might care to look at:

Barnard, P.J. (1999). Interacting Cognitive Subsystems: modelling working memory phenomena within a multi-processor architecture. In: A. Miyake & P. Shah, (Eds) Models of Working Memory: Mechanisms of Active Maintenance and Executive Control, pp298-339, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

for its application to emotion:

Teasdale, J.D. and Barnard, P.J. (1993). Affect, Cognition and Change: Re-modelling Depressive Thought. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

for its applications in clinical psychology:

Barnard, P. (2004). Bridging between basic theory and clinical practice. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 977-1000.

Teasdale, J.D. (1999). Emotional processing, three modes of mind, and the prevention of relapse in depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, S53-S77.

Interactive Animations of ICS

To understand a dynamic system you need to think about two things - (1) Principles that govern information flow and the principles underlying the strucuture of mental representations; and (2) How mulitple components in a system interact in real time. Mental activity can be thought in much the same way as the behaviour of a team. The individual members of the team are each doing something different but their conjoint activity is co-ordinated and constrained by common rules.

You can explore a simple interactive animations package which shows information flow among the subsystems of ICS. This is a cut-down version of a bigger package used to give talks. This version is focused on how central executive functions can be implemented in a distributed system. It is primarily intended for people who have already read a paper or two on ICS, or have heard a talk. It isn't really intended as a stand alone tutorial. If you do look at it, be sure to go through the overview first! You will need shockwave, and the full demo takes a while to explore - but you can escape at any time. You can download zipped files of a playable animation for IBM compatibles or for Mac OSX machines.

We hope to have these animation running within the browser shortly

Press the back button in your own browser to return to this page

There is also a tutorial document available that we used to teach people the basic properties of mental representations in ICS. This was directed at the design of graphic displays, but the principles it describes are once again general:

May, J., Scott, S. and Barnard, P. (1995) Structuring Displays: a psychological guide. Eurographics Tutorial Notes Series. PS95 TN4, ISSN 1017-4656 Geneva: European Association for Computer Graphics.

Current Research

I am currently working on a range of projects, most oriented towards emotion, clinical psychology and developing computationally explicit formulations of ICS:

  • Human attention, memory and executive processes in the normal population.
  • Self-representation and the processing of information in depression, bipolar affective disorder, insomnia, anxiety, and central executive dysfunction in schizophrenia.
  • The development of mathematical and computational models of integrated architectures for human cognition, using process algebra.
  • The development of, and evolutionary basis for, "delay-line" architectures for neural level implementations of the Interacting Cognitive Subsystems mental architecture.

If you want more information look at some of the papers referenced below or, if you are interested in its application to cognition and emotion - look at the book Teasdale, J.D. and Barnard, P.J. (1993). Affect, Cognition and Change: Re-modelling Depressive Thought. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

My earlier research on Human-Computer Interaction (1975-1998)

My earlier research on human-computer interaction included numerous observational studies of commercial products; studies of computer system designers; laboratory experiments comparing the performance consequences of interface characteristics; and the development of theoretical techniques for addressing fundamental aspects of cognition in human-computer interaction. I collaborated with IBM for the best part of ten years and then spent seven years co-ordinating Esprit projects 3066 and 7040 - AMODEUS. In these projects, my own research used AI technology to model users' mental activity on the basis of cognitive theory (Barnard, 1985; 1987 Barnard, Wilson & Mac Lean, 1988). I still periodically collaborate with Jon May in Sheffield and David Duke at the University of Leeds). The work on HCI can be accessed from the Unit's Bibliography.

Selected publications from the more distant past and full listing of more recent publications:

Barnard, P.J. (1985). Interacting Cognitive Subsystems: A psycholinguistic approach to short term memory. In A Ellis (Ed.), Progress in the Psychology of Language, Vol. 2, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 197-258.

Barnard, P.J. and Teasdale, J.D. (1991). Interacting cognitive subsystems: A systemic approach to cognitive-affective interaction and change. Cognition and Emotion, 5, 1-39.

Teasdale, J.D. and Barnard, P.J. (1993). Affect, Cognition and Change: Re-modelling Depressive Thought. Hove: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Eldridge, M., Barnard, P. & Bekerian, D. (1994). Autobiographical memory and daily schemas at work. Memory, 2 (1) 51-74.

Duke, D. J., Barnard, P. J., Duce, D. A. & May, J. (1998). Syndetic Modelling. Human-Computer Interaction. Vol 13, 4, 337-393.

Barnard, P.J. (1999). Interacting Cognitive Subsystems: modelling working memory phenomena within a multi-processor architecture. In: A. Miyake & P. Shah, (Eds) Models of Working Memory: Mechanisms of Active Maintenance and Executive Control, pp298-339, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barnard, P. & May, J. (1999). Representing cognitive activity in complex tasks. Human-Computer Interaction, 14, 93-158.

Barnard, P. & May, J. (2000). Towards a theory-based form of cognitive task analysis of broad scope and applicability. In: J. M. C. Schraagen, S. F. Chipman & V. L. Shalin, (Eds.), Cognitive Task Analysis. pp147-163, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Barnard, P., May, J., Duke, D. & Duce, D. (2000). Systems, Interactions and Macrotheory. ACM Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 7, 222-262.

Barnard, P., May, J., Duke, D. & Duce, D. (2001). Macro-theory for Systems of Interactors. In: J.M. Carroll (ed.) Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium., pp31-52, Boston: Addison-Wesley.

Barnard, P, Scott, S. K. & May, J. (2001). When the central executive let us down: schema attention and load in a generative working memory task. Memory, 9 (4/5/6), 209-221.

Bowman, H., & Barnard, P. J. (2001). Computational Modelling of Distributed Executive Control Technical Report, 12-01): Computing Laboratory, University of Kent at Canterbury, pubs.local.

Duke, D.J., Duce, D.A., Barnard, P.J. & May, J. (2001). Human-Computer Protocols. In "Universal Access In HCI", C. Stephanidis (Ed), Vol 3, Proc. HCI International, pp 296-300. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Scott, S.K. Barnard, P.J. & May, J. (2001). Specifying executive representations and processes in number generation tasks. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 54A (3) 641-664.

Battye, G. & Barnard, P. (2002) The Anterior Cingulate Cortex and Conflict Monitoring: fMRI studies from a range of paradigms implicate inhibitory mechanisms in top down attentional control. Poster at Human Brain Mapping.

Barnard, P., (2003). Asynchrony, implicational meaning and the experience of self in schizophrenia. In A. David & T. Kircher (Eds.). The Self in Neuroscience and Psychiatry, pp121-146. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barnard, P. J. & Bowman, H. (2003). Rendering Information Processing Models of Cognition and Affect Computationally Explicit: Distributed executive control and the deployment of attention. Cognitive Science Quarterly, 3/3, 297-328.

Duke, D.J., Barnard, P.J., Halper, N. & M. Mellin. (2003). Rendering and Affect, Computer Graphics Forum, 22(3), 359-368.

May, J. & Barnard, P. (2003). Cognitive Task Analysis. In D. Diaper & N. Stanton, (Eds.) The Handbook of Task Analysis for HCI, pp291-325. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

May, J., Dean, M, & Barnard, P. (2003). Using film cutting techniques in interface design. Human-Computer Interaction, 18, 325-372.

Bowman, H., Wyble, B. & Barnard, P.J. (2004). Neural Network Models of the Attentional Blink. In: H. Bowman and C. Labiouse (Eds), Proceedings of the Eighth Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop: Connectionist Models of Cognition and Perception, pp 178-187. World Scientific.

Barnard, P. (2004). Bridging between basic theory and clinical practice. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 977-1000.

Barnard, P. Scott, S.K. Taylor, J. May, J & Knightley, W. (2004). Paying attention to meaning. Psychological Science. 15, 179-186.

Ramponi, C., Barnard, P. , & Nimmo-Smith, M. I. (2004). Recollection Deficits in Dysphoric Mood: An Effect of Schematic Models and Executive Mode? Memory, 12(5), 655-670.

Byrne, R.W., Barnard, P.J., Davidson, I., Janik, V.M., McGrew, W.C., Miklósi, A. & Wiessner, P. (2004). Understanding Culture Across Species. Trends in Cognitive Science. 8(8), 341-346.

Barnard, P.J., Ramponi, C., Battye, G. & Mackintosh, B. (2005). Anxiety and the deployment of visual attention over time. Visual Cognition, 12, 181-211.

Barnard, P.J. & Dalgleish T. (2005). Psychological-level systems theory - The missing link in bridging emotion theory and neurobiology through dynamic systems modelling: Commentary on Lewis. Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 196-197.

deLahunta, S. & Barnard, P. J. (2005). What's in a phrase? In J. Birringer & J. Fenger (Eds) Tanz im Kopf: Dance and Cognition. Jarbuch 15 der Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung, 253-266 Munster: LIT Verlag.

Barnard, P. & Redgrave, P. (2006). Action. In R. G. M. Morris, L. Tarassenko & M. Kenward (Eds.). Cognitive Systems: Information Processing Meets Brain Science (pp.121-137). London: Academic Press.

Barnard, P.J., Watkins, E. R. & Ramponi, C. (2006) Reducing specificity of autobiographical memory in non-clinical participants: the role of rumination and schematic models. Cognition and Emotion, 20:3/4, 328-350.

deLahunta, S., Barnard, P. J., Nimmo-Smith, I., Potts, J. & Ramponi, C. (2006) Densities of agreement: making visible some intangible properties of dance. Dance Theatre Journal, 21:3, 17-23.

McCarthy, R., Blackwell, A., deLahunta, S., Wing, A., Hollands, K., Barnard, P. and Marcel. A. (2006). Bodies meet minds: Choreography and Cognition. Leonardo, 39:5, 475-477.

Bowman, H. Su Li, & Barnard, P.J. Semantic modulation of temporal attention: Distributed control and levels of abstraction in computational modelling.Technical Report 9-06, Computing Lab, University of Kent at Canterbury, September 2006, pp 46.

Su, L, Bowman, H. and Barnard, P.J. Emotional modulation of temporal attention, an approach based upon distributed control and formal methods. Technical Report 10-06, Computing Lab, University of Kent at Canterbury, September 2006, 25 pages.

Dalgleish, T., Williams, J.M.G., Perkins, N., Golden, A.J., Barnard, P.J., Au-Yeung, C., Murphy, V., Elward, R., Feldman-Barrett, L., Tchanturia, K., Watkins, E (2007). Reduced specificity of autobiographical memory and depression: The role of executive processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136(1), 23-42.

Barnard, P.J., Duke, D.J., Byrne, R.W. & Davidson, (2007). Differentiation in cognitive and emotional meanings: an evolutionary analysis 
Cognition and Emotion, 21(6), 1155-1183. 

Su, L., H. Bowman, & P.J. Barnard (2007). Attentional capture by meaning: A multi-level modelling study. In D. S. McNamara & J. G. Trafton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 29th Annual Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1521-1526). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Su, L., Bowman, H., & Barnard, P.J. (2007). Performance of reactive interfaces in stimulus rich environments, applying formal methods and cognitive frameworks. the 2nd International Workshop on Formal Methods for Interactive Systems FMIS2007. (Workshop held in conjunction with HCI2007). To appear in Electronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science.

Dalgleish, T., Rolfe, J., Golden, A-M. & Barnard, P.J. (In Press). Reduced autobiographical memory specificity and trauma exposure: A case of impaired executive control or of affect regulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.