I am the director of ILLUME: The Faculty Centre for Creativity Research and my current research is focused on exploring factors that influence creativity in general and particularly creative thinking. Some of this work is exploring visual influences on creative thinking, which combines my current research on creativity with my previous work on visual perception. This previous work has focused on how people perceive and interact with the world and particularly on how this changes through learning and experience, especially in the domains of spatial and colour vision.
We are exploring how mood affects creative thinking, especially the evaluative element of creative thinking. Further, we are exploring how mood affects improvisation a relatively evaluation free form of creative expression.
We are exploring the relationship between colour cues in the environment and creative task performance in carefully controlled psychophysical studies.
We are testing the idea that the ability to flexibly switch between analytic (or convergent) and associative (or divergent) modes of thought is a characteristic of more creative individuals in fields such as design.
We are exploring how categories in language and thought are formed and how they relate and impact on each other in the domain of colour categorisation. Further, we are exploring how these categories are expressed in the brain. This work is funded by the European Research Council and is in collaboration with Alexandra Clifford at Surrey and led by Anna Franklin at the University of Sussex.
We explored the extent to which colour perception could change with learning and experience during adulthood. This work included field research on remote rural populations in Africa to explore the effects of differing colour language on colour perception. This work was funded by the ESRC.
We explored the extent to which individuals could learn to vary the visual processing carried out by the early cortical brain stages that receive visual information from the eyes. This work made use of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to explore the interaction between brain areas. This work was funded by the ESRC and BBSRC.
We explored how the brain discriminates visual images of our own body parts from those of others and how visual information about our own body parts is integrated with information about those parts coming from other senses. This work was funded by the ESRC.
We explored the nature of the expertise exhibited by elite level hockey players and developing visual skills training methods to enhance performance. This work was part-funded by the British Olympic Association.
We explored how the visual processing of autistic children might differ from typically developing populations, especially their perception of colour and spatial frequency (roughly the degree of coarseness of visual images).
We developed biologically inspired computational models of the neural processing of visual information that could be used to explore how learning to categorise visual objects can improve visual discrimination between objects belonging to different categories.
Director of ILLUME: The Faculty Centre for Creativity Research
Associate Fellow British Psychological Society
Fellow Higher Education Academy
International Representative for Division 10 of the American Psychological Society - The Society for the Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Editorial Board: Psychological Science 2006 - 2011
Editorial Board: Frontiers in Cognitive Science 2011 - date
Member ESRC Peer Review College 2010 - date
External Advisor UG programmes in Psychology, St Mary's University College, Twickenham 2003 - 2006
External Examiner MSc Functional NeuroImaging, Brunel University 2010 - date
External Examiner MSc Research Methods in Psychology, University of Hertfordshire 2011 - date
Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., and Sowden, P. T. (in press, 2013). Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Journal of Environmental Psychology. doi: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494413000650
Casey, M.C. & Sowden, P.T. (2012). Modelling Learned Categorical Perception in Human Vision. Neural Networks, 33, 114-126. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neunet.2012.05.001
Wimshurst, Z., Sowden, P.T. & Cardinale, M. (2012) Visual skills and playing positions of Olympic field hockey players. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 114, 204-216. doi: 10.2466/05.22.24.PMS.114.1.204-216
Sowden, P.T. (2012, in press) Psychophysics. To appear in H. Cooper, P. Camic, R. Gonzalez, D. Long, A. Panter and K. Sher (Ed’s) APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology. American Psychological Association.
Sowden, P. T. & Dawson, L. (2011). Creative feelings: The effect of mood on creative ideation and evaluation. ACM: Creativity and Cognition 2011, 393-394.
Franklin, A. and Sowden, P.T. (2011) Colour and Autism Spectrum Disorders. In C. Bigham, C. Hough, D. Simmons and C. Kay (Ed’s) New Directions in Colour Studies. Amsterdam, NL: Benjamins, pp. 281-292.
Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Notman, L.A., Alexander, I. and Özgen, E. (2011) Chromatic Perceptual Learning. In C. Bigham, C. Hough, D. Simmons and C. Kay (Ed’s) New Directions in Colour Studies. Amsterdam, NL:Benjamins, pp. 433-444.
Franklin, A., Sowden, P.T., Notman, L., West, D., Gonzales-Dixon, M., Alexander, I., Loveday, S., White, A. (2010) Reduced Chromatic Discrimination in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Developmental Science, 13, 188-200.
Jehoel, S., Sowden, P.T., Ungar, S. and Sterr, A. (2009) Tactile elevation perception in blind and sighted participants and its implications for tactile map creation. Human Factors, 51, 208-223.
Franklin, A., Sowden, P.T., Burley, R., Notman, L. and Alder, E. (2008) Color perception in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1837-1847.
Myers, A. and Sowden, P.T. (2008) Your hand or mine? The Extrastriate Body Area. NeuroImage, 42, 1669-1677.
Özgen, E., Payne, H.E., Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G. (2006) Retinotopic sensitisation to spatial scale: evidence for flexible spatial frequency processing in scene perception. Vision Research, 46, 1108-1119.
Sowden, P.T. and Barrett, P. (2006) Psychophysiological Methods, in G.M. Breakwell, C. Fife-Schaw, S. Hammond and J. Smith (Ed’s) Research Methods in Psychology 3E. Sage: London. pp. 146-159
Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G. (2006) Channel surfing in the visual brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 538-545.
McCotter, M., Gosselin, F., Sowden, P.T. and Schyns, P.G. (2005) The use of visual information in natural scenes. Visual Cognition, 12, 938-953.
Notman, L., Sowden, P.T. and Özgen, E. (2005) The nature of learned categorical perception effects: a psychophysical approach. Cognition, 95, B1-B14.
Özgen, E., Sowden, P.T., Schyns, P. and Daoutis, C. (2005) Top-down attentional modulation of spatial frequency processing in scene perception. Visual Cognition, 12, 925-937.
Sowden, P.T., Özgen, E., Schyns, P. and Daoutis, C. (2003) Expectancy effects on spatial frequency processing. Vision Research, 43, 2759-2772.
Sowden, P.T., Rose, D. and Davies, I.R.L. (2002) Perceptual learning of luminance contrast detection: specific for spatial frequency and retinal location but not orientation. Vision Research, 42, 1249-1258.
Barrett, P and Sowden, P.T. (2000) Psychophysiological Methods, in G.M. Breakwell, S. Hammond and C. Fife-Schaw (Ed’s) Research Methods in Psychology 2E. Sage: London. pp. 211-223.
Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L. and Roling, P. (2000). Perceptual learning of the detection of features in X-ray images: a functional role for improvements in adults’ visual sensitivity? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 26, 379-390.
Sowden, P.T. (1999). Expert perceivers and perceptual learning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 396-397 (commentary).
Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T., Jerret, D.T., Jerret, T. and Corbett, G.G. (1998). A cross cultural study of English and Setswana speakers on a colour triads task: a test of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. British Journal of Psychology, 89, 1-15.
Sowden, P.T. and Watt, S. J. (1998). A Jittered Squares illusion and a proposed mechanism. Perception, 27, 439-454.
Pauli, R. and Sowden, P.T. (1997). The role of feedback in learning screening mammography. Proceedings of The International Society for Optical Engineering, 3036, 205-211.
Roling, P., Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Özgen, E. and Lawler, M. (1997). Perceptual learning in inspection tasks, in D. Harris (Ed.) Engineering Psychology and Cognitive Ergonomics Volume Two: Job Design and Product Design, Ashgate: Aldershot. pp. 121-128.
Rollinson, J. and Sowden, P.T. (1997). The effect of colour on the recall of computer presented information, in S.A. Robertson (Ed.) Contemporary Ergonomics 1997. Taylor and Francis: London. pp. 522-527.
Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Roling, P. and Watt, S.J. (1997). Acquiring skill at medical image inspection: learning localised in early visual processes. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 3036, 273-280.
Davies, I.R.L., Roling, P., Sowden, P., Hammond, S. and Chivers, R. (1996). Design of training schedules for medical image readers: the effects of variability and difficulty levels of the training stimuli. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 169-179.
Hammond, S., Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T. and Davies, J. (1996). Statistical decision support in screening mammography. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 164-168.
Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Lawler, M., Curry, B. and Hammond, S. (1996). Expertise at X-ray film reading: the role of attention, and identification training, in S.A. Robertson (Ed.) Contemporary Ergonomics 1996. Taylor and Francis: London. pp. 246-251.
Sowden, P.T., Davies, I.R.L., Rose, D and Kaye, M. (1996). Perceptual learning of stereoacuity. Perception, 25, 1043-1052.
Sowden, P.T., Pauli, R., Roling, P., Davies, I.R.L. and Hammond, S. (1996). Improvement in screening performance: the importance of appropriate feedback in screening mammography. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2712, 180-188.
Davies, I.R.L., Corbett, G.G., Mtnje, A. and Sowden, P.T. (1995). The basic colour terms of Chichewa. Lingua, 95, 259-278.
Sowden, P.T. and Davies, I.R.L. (1995). The nature of perceptual skills in screening mammography: Implications for training approaches. Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2436, 143-154.
Davies, I.R.L., Sowden, P.T., Hammond, S. and Ansell, J. (1994). Expertise at mammography: A perceptual or conceptual skill? Proceedings of the International Society for Optical Engineering, 2166, 86-94.
Sowden, P.T. and Stevenson, J. (1994). Beginning reading strategies in children experiencing contrasting teaching methods. Reading and Writing, 6, 109-123.
Davies, I.R.L., MacDermid, C., Corbett, G.C., McGurk, H.C., Jerret. D., Jerret, T. and Sowden, P.T. (1992). Colour terms in Setswana: A linguistic and perceptual approach. Linguistics, 30, 1065-1103.
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