Recent and current research projects from the group:

The Salford Nature Environments Database (SNED)

The applied cognition group have been working on a group project focussed on creating a database of standardised images of the natural environment for research.

The growing interest in harnessing natural environments to enhance mental health, including cognitive functioning and mood, has yielded encouraging results in initial studies. Given that images of nature have demonstrated similar benefits, they are frequently employed as proxies for real-world environments. To ensure precision and control, researchers often manipulate images of natural environments. The effectiveness of this approach relies on the strict standardization of imagery and therefore inconsistency in methods and stimuli has limited the synthesis of research findings in the area. Responding to these limitations, the current paper introduces the Salford Nature Environments Database (SNED), a standardized database of natural images created to support ongoing research into the benefits of nature exposure. The SNED currently exists as the most comprehensive nature image database available, comprising 500 high-quality, standardized photographs capturing a variety of possible natural environments across the seasons. It also includes normative scores for user-rated characteristics of fascination, refuge and prospect, compatibility, preference, valence, arousal and approach-avoidance, as well as data on physical properties of the images, specifically luminance, contrast, entropy, CIELAB color space parameter values, and fractal dimensions. All image ratings and content detail, along with participant details, are available open access online. Researchers are encouraged to use this open access database in accordance with the specific aims and design of their study. The SNED represents a valuable resource for continued research in areas such as nature-based therapy, social prescribing and experimental approaches investigating underlying mechanisms that help explain how natural environments improve mental health and wellbeing. See the preprint here:

A Distinctly Dads Exploration Of The Value Of Play

Dr Robert Bendall is working with Oldham-based organisation Men Behaving Dadly to co-create a research project aimed at maximising the positive impact of play. Additional project partners are Oldham Play Action Group and Greenacres Community Centre. Read more here.

Fire Service Research and Training Trust (FSRTT) Grant

In January 2022 Dr Catherine Thompson began work on a 12-month research project funded by the FSRTT. The research (titled: In the heat of the moment: Investigating the impact of thermal stress on the cognitive functioning of fire fighters) explores the influence of extreme temperatures on basic cognitive processing and decision making in fire fighters. Catherine is joined on the project by two colleagues from Sports Rehabilitation, Martyn Matthews and Dr Steve Pearson, and we have recently welcomed two new members of staff, a Research Assistant (Lucy Ferrie) and a Project Officer (Brian Highlands). More details about the project can be found on our blog.

BPS Psychobiology Networking Award

This award was funded to members of our group in February 2020. Together Dr Robert Bendall, Dr Simon Cassidy, Dr Adam Galpin, and Dr Catherine Thompson have hosted a series of networking events to promote the work of the Visual Cognition research group. We have also been
supported by undergraduate students David Beevers and Eileen Quigley who have presented the work of the group to their fellow students. David has also been instrumental in the establishment of the Visual Cognition website and has written (and continues to write) many of our features items.

For information about this project and ongoing events associated with the award please contact Dr Robert Bendall –

Salford Community for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (SCELT) Scholarship

This project is led by Dr Adam Galpin but involves many members (and past members) of our team (David Beevers, Dr Robert Bendall, Dr Simon Cassidy, Dr Maria Panagiotidi, Eileen Quigley, Dr Ben Short, and Dr Catherine Thompson). The SCELT is a University of Salford initiative that provides funding to a variety of projects to enhance teaching and learning. The aim of our project was to re-design the Cognitive Psychology modules on our undergraduate degree
programmes by working with our students and gaining their thoughts and insights via a series of co-creation workshops. We have identified key factors that students value with regard to their learning in general, and to cognitive psychology specifically and are using these to inform our curriculum design.

Contact Dr Adam Galpin for more details –