Motivation Science Lab Sorry, your browser does not support inline SVG.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Kou Murayama
Research Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Reading
(Honorary Professor, Kochi University of Technology)
(Distinguished Guest Professor, University of Tübingen)

Awards (selected)
F. J. McGuigan Early Career Investigator Prize (American Psychological Foundation)
The Richard E. Snow Awards for Distinguished Early Contributions (American Psychological Association, Division 15)
Current Grants (selected)
Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award
Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant

Lab Members


Dr. Johnny Lau
I am currently working with Kou on an exciting project that explores the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying how curiosity influences decision making. Before joining the Motivation Science Lab, I completed my PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2016. My doctoral research examined object and action perception, in both neurologically normal and brain-injured individuals. I have applied multiple techniques in my research ranging from neuropsychological assessment and experimental testing to structural (lesion analysis), functional and diffusion imaging.
Dr. Lily FitzGibbon
My research interests include curiosity, counterfactual and hypothetical reasoning, executive function and decision making. I am currently investigating the information seeking behaviour that occurs after decision making in adults and children. I completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2015, and have since held postdoctoral positions at the University of Birmingham and the University of Southern California.
Dr. Carolyn McNabb
Prior to starting in the Motivation Science Lab, I completed my PhD at the University of Auckland, studying neuroimaging markers of treatment resistance in people with schizophrenia. I have experience in functional and structural brain network analysis and will be applying these skills in my current project, studying contagion of motivation in adolescents.
Dr. Vanessa Kurdi
I completed my Ph.D. in clinical child and adolescent psychology at the Université de Montréal, Canada. I am now conducting a postdoctoral project with Dr. Murayama, which allows me to pursue my passion about parenting and teaching practices and their effects on children under the Self-Determination Theory framework. My current project examines the effects of parent and teacher empathy on children’s school and socioemotional adaptation through longitudinal database analyses and a teacher intervention.
Dr. Greta Fastrich
My main interest is intrinsic motivation. In particular, I am interested in how (potentially different) kinds of intrinsic motivation influence our cognition. I especially aim to identify how interest, curiosity and challenge impact memory and decision-making. For this, I use a range of methods including fMRI, hierarchical latent growth curve modelling and computational modelling.
Dr. Ed Donnellan
Having spent my PhD investigating predictors of children’s early language, I now focus later in development – on predictors of educational attainment, and the potential role of curiosity. Certainly, curiosity motivates my research; I am curious about how to interrogate big data, how we learn – or ever learned – to communicate (gaining insight from human and chimpanzee communication), how we educate, and how we might work any of this out.


Laura Burgess
My Ph. D. research project is a longitudinal investigation of motivation contagion in a school setting, carried out in collaboration with local schools. I am interested in using a range of methods including surveys and behavioural tasks along with neuroimaging techniques, the latter being the primary method in my most recent research project.
Sumeyye Aslan
My essential research interest is generally cognitive abilities and how and whether they can be measured. I aim to work on this topic using a variety of psychometric analyses.
Stef Meliss
The scope of my PhD project is to investigate the effects of motivation and emotion on memory performance and its neural underpinning. I am planning to use movie clips and films as stimuli to enhance our insights in how the brain processes stimuli closer to natural viewing conditions. To answer my research questions, behavioural assessments, neuroimaging and physiological measurements are the methods of choice.
Hannah Stone
My PhD research project is based on curiosity and consumer behaviour. I aim to manipulate curiosity using a range of experimental techniques within behavioural paradigms. I intend to apply this to areas of consumer psychology to investigate how curiosity may influence consumer behaviours.

Research Assistants

Jasmine Raw
I am interested in how our emotions can affect our cognitive abilities, in particular our memory. Over the past year and a half, I have been investigating how emotions influence our memory over time, by conducting a longitudinal study on people’s memory for a large-scale, political event. More recently, I have started working on an fMRI project investigating emotion regulation across age, looking at the positivity effect in older adults.
Dr. Anthony Haffey
My previous research has been in social motivation, and I am interested in researching motivation in learning. I have used EMG, eye-tracking and fMRI and am currently investigating motivation by studying learned helplessness and curiosity.
Cansu Ogulmus
My area of interest lies in the effect of motivation on learning and decision making. Morespecifically I will be investigating how different types of motivation (interest/curiosity vs.external rewards) contribute to long-term and short-term memory performance. I will also belooking into how different types of motivation bias decision making, leading to a diverse setof outcomes. I will be using both neuroimaging techniques (fMRI) and behavioral tasks tostudy my research questions.
Cristina Pascua
My primary research interests are based around understanding the interface of motivation with cognition. In particular, I hope to understand how motivation can enhance learning. My current research aims to understand how intrinsic/ extrinsic motivation influences memory consolidation. In this research, I will be using a variety of experimental techniques, such as, behavioural experiments, neuroimaging and physiological measurements during simulated real-life experiences (e.g., using movie clips as stimuli).