School of Psychological Science

Postgraduate Profiles


Gareth Roberts

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 8150


Start date

Feb 2009

Submission date

Dec 2012

Gareth Roberts

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The Dissociation between Knowledge and Action: An Electrophysiological Investigation of Goal Neglect


My thesis is a series of experiments investigating a behavioural phenomenon known as goal neglect. Simply put, goal neglect is when a participant fails to act on a task requirement despite understanding and knowledge of what they should be doing. Historically goal neglect has been associated with major damage to the frontal lobes, where patients are known to exhibit substantive attentional problems. Recent research, however, suggests that normal individuals display goal neglect under complex and unstructured circumstances and that its occurrence is strongly related to a person's level of fluid intelligence. In my thesis I have investigated various factors of goal neglect, including how it can be increased or decreased through manipulations of the instructions presented to participants. A large part of my thesis has been on using neuroimaging techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the functional and structural correlates of successful goal-directed behaviour.

Why my research is important

My research has importance for the neural basis of attention and cognitive control. It also has implications for theories of intelligence, specifically on why individuals differ from one another.

From an applied angle, my research has implications for methods of training and education. Particularly in complex environments, where employees must make decisions and operate complex equipment. The way complex information is presented to people can have a significant impact on their performance.


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