Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Psychological and neuroscientific aspects of cognitive control, personality and subjective well-being

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.09.00  Social sciences  Psychology   
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   

Code Science Field
S260  Social sciences  Psychology 

Code Science Field
5.01  Social Sciences  Psychology and cognitive sciences 
cognitive control, cognition, cognitive neuroscience, neurophysiology, plasticity, cognitive training, experimental psychology, individual differences, personality, subjective well-being
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (19)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  50536  Lea Alič  Psychology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2018  10 
2.  18463  PhD Andreja Avsec  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  278 
3.  33621  PhD Jurij Bon  Psychiatry  Researcher  2015 - 2018  161 
4.  09182  PhD Valentin Bucik  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  651 
5.  37645  PhD Jure Demšar  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2018  82 
6.  23783  PhD Katja Depolli Steiner  Psychology  Researcher  2017  55 
7.  28624  PhD Milica Gregorič Kramberger  Neurobiology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  222 
8.  13425  PhD Darja Kobal Grum  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  623 
9.  50304  Aleksij Kraljič  Neurobiology  Technical associate  2017  15 
10.  28528  PhD Renata Marčič  Psychology  Researcher  2018  55 
11.  38946  Andraž Matkovič  Neurobiology  Technical associate  2016 - 2018  50 
12.  06835  PhD Sonja Pečjak  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  814 
13.  10811  PhD Cirila Peklaj  Social sciences  Researcher  2015 - 2018  412 
14.  18919  PhD Anja Podlesek  Psychology  Head  2015 - 2018  513 
15.  33077  Manca Seničar  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2016  16 
16.  36162  PhD Anka Slana Ozimič  Neurobiology  Technical associate  2015 - 2018  122 
17.  15062  PhD Matija Svetina  Psychology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  346 
18.  39636  PhD Gaja Zager Kocjan  Psychology  Researcher  2018  109 
19.  28100  PhD Gregor Žvelc  Psychology  Researcher  2018  306 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  74,805 
2.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  95,778 
The research program connects the areas of ​​cognitive psychology, personality psychology, and neuroscience. The central theme is cognitive control, the ability to flexibly adjust to and respond to challenges in the environment, to effectively process the relevant stimuli and filter potential distractors, in order to plan, implement and monitor the execution of goal directed behavior. It involves and underlies attention, working memory, problem solving, planning, decision-making. Cognitive control is the foundation of the efficient functioning of individuals in the environment. As such it forms the basis of personality and subjective well-being. Traditionally, the study of basic cognitive processes on one hand, and personality and subjective well-being on the other, exploring phenomena at different levels of observation, also used different research methods and approaches. Basic mechanisms of cognitive control are primarily studied using experimental designs, often employing neuroscience tools, focusing on average, typical responses to cognitive tasks, whereas the study of personality characteristics and subjective well-being primarily focuses on individual differences and the use of correlational methods. The aim of the research program is to advance the research in both areas by building bridges and relating the two. It combines the study of neurophysiological bases of, and the individual differences in cognitive control. Furthermore, it relates the measures of cognitive control with psychological measures of personality traits and subjective well-being, to provide novel insights into the structure of cognitive control and to identify its role in the behavioural characteristics, abilities and personality traits of individuals. Further objective of the research program is to explore the translational potential of the acquired knowledge. Specificaly, the goal of the programme is to develop and evaluate existing and novel forms of interventions (e.g., cognitive training) focused on strengthening cognitive control and cognitive abilities in different target groups (pupils, the elderly, patients with brain lesions and diseases), and interventions focusing on adaptation of the environment to individuals' cognitive abilities, both contributing to the full development and use of individuals' potentials, and their effective functioning in various environments and contexts (at school, work, etc.). The proposed bridging of levels of study represents a novel and innovative approach that can enable an important leap in understanding of human behaviour. With the planned transfer of findings into practice by designing and evaluating interventions to support and promote cognitive abilities, the research program can enable significant advancements in the development of psychology as a profession, provide tangible benefits for socio-economic development, and contribute to the improvement in quality of life of individuals and society as a whole.
Significance for science
The proposed research program brings two fundamental contributions to the development of science. The first arises from the multidisciplinary team and from the content of the program. The key purpose of the program is building bridges among psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, through various levels of observation and explanation of psychological phenomena, characteristics and abilities. This type of integration will enable cross-fertilization of research questions and insights; insights on individual differences will constitute constraint input information in the study of fundamental cognitive processes using neurophysiological tools. On the other hand, the acquired knowledge will allow the refinement of models and better understanding of individual differences. Furthermore, and more importantly, the purpose of the research program is to exceed this crossing of ideas and knowledge with the creation of models that explicitly link different and so far most distinct levels of research. With these models, individual differences in personality, behaviour and well-being will be possible to link with fundamental cognitive processes – specifically, with cognitive control - and their neurophysiological bases. That will represent a significant innovation both within psychology and within cognitive neuroscience. The linkage of different observation levels will enable the creation of a holistic understanding of the research topic and will facilitate the process of transferring the knowledge into practice. An implicit division between studying the individual as an indivisible unity and studying the components of the cognitive system is still present in psychology. Distinction between the differential-psychological approach which is based on correlation studies, and the cognitive-psychological approach which uses experimental methods, is also common. The proposed program has the potential to establish a new psychology research paradigm by overturning the existing divisions and linking different levels of research. Direct incorporation of the actual social research issues into a basic scientific research program represents another important contribution to the development of science. In the context of psychology several cases can be traced where direct social needs and interests led to the creation of programs and interventions that preceded the theoretical development and empirical knowledge. Currently, typical example is the intense interest in the programs of consolidation and improvement in cognitive abilities. The proposed research program not only addresses this contemporary issue, but includes it as one of the approaches to the study of fundamental processes, thus opening up new avenues for research work. Through shortening the path from basic knowledge to its direct use the program gives an important step towards the ideal of translational science.
Significance for the country
Successful cognitive control has a key role in modulating goal-oriented behaviour, decision-making, and the ability to cope with external and internal challenges. It has an immediate impact on individual’s effectiveness and quality of life and thereby indirectly on the society as a whole. The purpose of the research programme is to explore these relationships and to form and validate possible strategies and steps either for direct improvement of the cognitive control abilities in various populations or for shaping processes that effectively maximize individuals' present abilities and attributes. As such, the research program has the potential to positively impact individual and societal effectiveness in a number of contexts. Our findings would have tangible impact on a number of fields. The immediate relevance of the research program’s focus is well illustrated, for example, by the implementation of learning-to-learn competence programme, financed by the European Union and led by the Educational Institute of Republic of Slovenia. The findings would be relevant for management, economic and strategic decision-making, given that cognitive control has both direct and mediating effects on business and economic/strategic decision-making, a fact usually not considered within current economic models. Cognitive rehabilitation and coping following brain damage is another field of potential impact. Effective cognitive control is crucial for successful reintegration of individuals, return to work, or training for a substitute employment. Effective strategies for cognitive rehabilitation and adaptation to both general external challenges as well as job-specific challenges can have an important impact on the life of affected individuals, their caretakers, and the society as a whole, both in terms of quality of life as well as direct and indirect economic costs. Moreover, the stimulation of effective cognitive control can serve as a protective mechanism against psychological distress and disorders. Given increasing interest of the general public in cognitive training and methods of improvement of subjective well-being, the proposed research can also lead to tangible business opportunities and economic benefits. Scientifically validated cognitive training programmes, educational workshops, diagnostic tools and services designed to fully develop individual and community potentials will be applicable in various psychological fields: care and education, health, social welfare, sports, psychology of work and organization, etc. The research programme is expected to positively impact the visibility and relevance of psychology as a profession, provide opportunities for development and marketing of new products and services, and open possibilities for spin-off enterprises.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
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