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Dr John Wilding
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Dr John Wilding

MA (Oxon), PhD (Lond), CPsychol


Emeritus Reader of Psychology

  Email: j.wilding@rhul.ac.uk
  Fax: 01784 434347
  Telephone: 01784 443526

Research Interests
Cognitive performance in general, especially factors affecting the efficiency of memory; attention in children; use of computers to remedy learning disabilities; student learning.

Specific Interests :

John has now wound up many years of research on superior memory with publication of a chapter with Liz Valentine in the newly published Cambridge Handbook on Expertise and Expert Performance.

In retirement he is focussing on co-operative research with the Laboratory for Research in Developmental Disorders at McGill University in Montreal, headed by Professor Kim Cornish. Using the child-friendly computerised tasks that he has devised to test aspects of attention, particularly a visual search task, this research has been investigating attentional ability in normal groups and in groups with genetic disorders, particularly Fragile X syndrome.
In normal groups rated by teachers as having good or poor attentional ability, we have shown that children with poor rated attention can search a complex display for specified targets just as quickly as children with good attention, but they make more responses to distractor items (false alarms to non-targets). Speed is related to chronological and mental age, and relatively separate factors emerge based on speed and accuracy. We argue that attentional differences depend on the efficiency of control systems required in selective, sustained and divided attention and that the main source of variation in performance in these supposedly different types of task is the demand on control systems rather than the ˇ°typeˇ± of attention required.
Our studies of Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder depending on a single genetic abnormality, have demonstrated poor performance on the visual search task, but with a different pattern of performance from that shown by normal children with poor attentional skills. Fragile X children, once they found a target, demonstrated a very strong tendency to repeat responses on it or to return to previously located targets, even though these were clearly marked as having been found already. This behaviour matches other indications that this group has major problems in organising sequential responding and we are now investigating how this may impact on ability to learn some key cognitive skills

1. Cornish, K., Wilding, J., Hollis, C. (2008).  Visual search performance in children rated as good or poor attenders: the differential impact of DAT1 genotype, IQ and chronological age.  Neuropsychology, in press.
2. Scerif, G., Cornish, K., Wilding, J., Driver, J., Karmiloff-smith, A. (2007).  Delineation of early attentional control difficulties in fragile X syndrome: focus on neurocomputational changes.  Neuropsychologia.  1889-1898.
3. Wilding, J., Andrews, B, Hejdenberg, J. (2007).  Relations between life difficulties, measures of working memory operation and examination performance in a student sample.  Memory.  57-62.
4. Wilding, J., Cornish, K. (2007).  Visual search performance and attention ratings in a population based sample of school children: Is there a link between genes and behavior? .  Child Neuropsychology.  510-521.
5. Wilding J, Pankhania P, Williams A (2006).  Effects of speed and accuracy instructions on performance in a visual search task by children with good and poor attention.  British Journal of Psychology.  127 - 139.
6. Wilding J M, Andrews B (2006).  Life goals, approaches to study and performance in an undergraduate cohort.  British Journal of Educational Psychology. 76, 155-169.
Last updated: 09/05/2012 12:44:47