Dr Doug Barrett


School/Department: Psychology, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 229 7178



I joined the University of Surrey as a mature student and read for a BSc in Applied Psychology. In my 3rd year I was introduced to visual psychophysics by Mark Bradshaw who supervised my undergraduate project. Following my degree I worked for a year as a Research Assistant and then completed a PhD in Mark’s laboratory where my thesis investigated spatial coordinate frameworks of selective attention. I then moved to a postdoctoral research position at Southampton University’s Visual Cognition Unit where I worked with Kyle Cave Nick Donnelly and Tammy Menneer on a project investigating visual search in real-world situations. In 2003 I was awarded an MRC Career Development Fellowship at the MRC’s Institute of Hearing Research where I learned about auditory science and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) under the supervision of Deb Hall. My first lectureship was at Nottingham Trent University and I moved to the University of Leicester in 2009. I have maintained my interests in visual and auditory cognition and my research focusses on interactions between selective attention and short-term memory across the life-span in neurologically normal and clinical populations.


Research Interests:

Our ability to process and act on information in the environment is limited. This reflects constraints imposed by perceptual mechanisms as well as post-perceptual processes such as short-term memory. To deal with these constraints, individuals must select, encode, retain and act upon sensory information in response to changing task demands. Psychologists and neuroscientists use the term “attention” to describe the cognitive and neural processes involved in the selection or “prioritisation” of sensory information in the pursuit of goals and intentions. My research interests focus on the cognitive and neural processes underlying the prioritisation of information during visual sampling, encoding and maintenance in short-term memory. I am interested in how these processes change over the lifespan, and how they differ in clinical and neurotypical populations. My research uses methods including psychophysics, computational modelling, eye tracking, pupillometry, and electroencephalography (EEG). 

Current Projects & Funding:

1) Office of Veterans’ Affairs (£298,829.00): Development and evaluation of online tests of executive disfunction as a marker of PTSD in UK service veterans (May 2023-2025; PI Doug Barrett, CIs Claire Hutchinson, John Maltby & Sarah Gunn).

2) Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (BBSRC) PhD studentship: Evaluating the contributions of age-related changes in sensory acuity and cognitive control on the speed and accuracy of visual search (September 2022-2026; PI Doug Barrett, CIs David Souto & Ascen Pagan).

3) ME Research UK PhD studentship: Impaired selective attention as a cognitive and neurophysiological marker of ME/CFS (October 2023-2026; PI Doug Barrett, CIs David Souto & Claire Hutchinson).

Please see my Lab Website for more information about current projects, people and published articles. 



Harif, M., Saman, Y., Burling, R., Rea, O., Patel, R., Barrett, D. J. K., . . . Arshad, Q. (2023). Altered visual conscious awareness in patients with vestibular dysfunctions; a cross-sectional observation study. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 448doi:10.1016/j.jns.2023.120617

Jones, G., Cabiddu, F., Barrett, D. J. K., Castro, A., & Lee, B. (2023). How the characteristics of words in child-directed speech differ from adult-directed speech to influence children's productive vocabularies. FIRST LANGUAGE. doi:10.1177/01427237221150070

Barrett, D. J. K., Souto, S., Pilling, M., & Baguley D. M. (2022). An exploratory investigation of pupillometry as a measure of tinnitus intrusiveness on a test of auditory short-term memory. Ear and Hearing 43(5): 1540-1548. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000001214

Faro, J., Frosch, C. A., & Barrett, D. J. K. (2021). Training and experience influence the consequences of anxiety during performance. A study of two groups of British firearms officers during bi-annual testing. Police Practice and Research, 23(3), 355-369. doi:10.1080/15614263.2021.1927730

Pilling, M., Barrett, D. J. K., & Gellatly, A. (2020). The basis of report-difference superiority in delayed perceptual comparison tasks. Memory & Cognition, 48(5), 856-869. doi:10.3758/s13421-020-01023-7

Barrett, D., & Zobay, O. (2019). Concurrent evaluation of independently cued features during perceptual decisions and saccadic targeting in visual search. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 966-984. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01854-w

Barrett, D. J. K., & Pilling, M. (2018). Change perception and change interference within and across feature dimensions. Acta Physiologica, 188, 84-96. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.05.008

Barrett, D. J. K., & Pilling, M. (2017). Evaluating the Precision of Auditory Sensory Memory as an Index of Intrusion in Tinnitus. Ear and Hearing, 38(2), 262-265. doi:10.1097/AUD.0000000000000367.

Barrett, D. J., Shimozaki, S. S., Jensen, S., & Zobay, O. (2016). Visuospatial Working Memory Mediates Inhibitory and Facilitatory Guidance in Preview Search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 42(10), 1533-1546. doi:10.1037/xhp0000239

Hutchinson, C. V., Barrett, D. J. K., Nitka, A., & Raynes, K. (2016). Action video game training reduces the Simon Effect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(2), 587-592. doi:10.3758/s13423-015-0912-6

Pilling, M., & Barrett, D. J. K. (2016). Dimension-based attention in visual short-term memory. Memory and Cognition, 44(5), 740-749. doi:10.3758/s13421-016-0599-6


I am interested in projects investigating aspects of perception visual attention and short-term memory.

Current PhD students are working on:

1) Interactions between perception and cognition in age-related changes in visual search

2) The impact of training on physiological and psychological responses to stress among police firearms officers

Other areas of research include:

1) Investigating the use of pupillometry as an index of mental load in normal and clinical populations (i.e. tinnitus dementia & ME)

2) The impact of prior knowledge and experience on eye movements during everyday visual tasks

3) Cognitive strategies to optimise visual and auditory discrimination in response to age-related changes in visual and auditory acuity (i.e. presbyopia and sensorineural hearing loss) 



I teach on the MRes Research Methods courses in Psychology and Human Neuroscience. These share statistics and Professional Development modules and include subject-specific seminars and workshops from staff across the Schools of Psychology and Biology. Students complete an empirical dissertation in the 2nd semester, where they’re encouraged to develop professional research skills with a supervisor from staff at the Department of Neuroscience Psychology and Behaviour.


I teach Selective Attention on the 1st year course, "Introduction to Sensation Perception and Cognition." My teaching on the 2nd year course "Information Processing and Cognition" builds on my first-year courses and introduces the concepts of cognitive models using Signal Detection and Bayesian theories. I lead a 3rd year "Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience" course, which focusses on the use of methods such as neuroimaging, lesion studies, EEG and single-cell physiology in contemporary Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience research. 

Press and media

I can be contacted to discuss questions relating to my research interests in perception and cognition.


I am a member of the Experimental Psychology and Psychonomic Societies.


I have presented talks at international conferences including:

1) European Conference on Eye Movements (Leicester 2022)

2) European Conference on Eye Movements (Spain 2019)

3) European Conference on Visual Perception (Italy 2018)

4) Vision Sciences Society (Florida 2016)

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