Department of Psychology

Research Projects

Below you will find the research projects hosted by the department. Projects within a research group are to be find under the group's own web site in the links just below.

Research Projects at the Department

Table of contents:

Behavioural Medicine and Health

(Per Lindberg)

The research focuses on issues related to health and self-care within a bio-psycho-social framework. It takes off from a behavioural medicine perspective on rehabilitation, secondary prevention and self-management of acute and chronic conditions. The research group is multi-professional including scientists from the field of physical therapy, psychology, nursing and dentistry. Also visit the Behavioural Medicine and Health homepage.

Brain Function and Emotion

(Mats Fredrikson)

Key words: anxiety, learning, memory, PET, brain

My scientific interest is focused on the relation between brain function and emotional learning and memory. With the use of positron emission tomography (PET), our research group has performed a number of studies on volunteers, where we have studied acquisition and recall of aversive memories on an experimental basis, using the Pavlovian conditioning paradigm. We have also done studies in specific phobics and traumatized bank officials, post traumatic stress disorder and social phobia. Present and planned studies include new tracer molecules to visualize substance P in pain, anxiety and nausea before and after treatment. In collaboration with others we also study genemarkers.

The affective neuroscience research group consists of Mats Fredrikson and Tomas Furmark, together with graduate students Åsa Michelgård, Thomas Ågren, Vanda Faria, Jonas Engman, and Malin Gingnell.

Senior researcher: Professor Mats Fredrikson.

Clinical Psychology

(Jo Anne Dahl)

My primary research areas are within clinical psychology, both on a basic science level as well as directly in the field. On the more basic experimental level, I am interested in investigating processes psychotherapy. Presently I am working on using RFT (relational frame theory) exercises to teach, train and measure empathy for the students in the Clinical psychology program. Together with my colleagues, we are presently investigating the effects of SELF as CONTEXT which is the ability or perspective of transcending one’s thoughts and feelings enabling a greater degree of psychological flexibility. We are also investigating the effects of pro-social behavior, i.e. how helping others influences degrees of stress, anxiety and depression.

On the more applied clinical level, my research group is presently investigating the effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) on a number of different applications. One application is the development and evaluation of a internet based ACT treatment for obesity. A second ACT application is for children with cancer pain and a third is for persons who are on sick leave for stress, burn out or pain. Research in these areas involve direct work with developing manuals, finding new and innovative ways of implementing treatment as well as data analyses. We strive to develop new behavioural measures rather than self report scales. 

Here is a sample of some of my publications
- Dahl. J., Melin, L., Brorson, L.O., and Schollin, J. (1985) “Effects of a broad spectrum behavior modification treatment program on children with refractory seizures”, Epilepsia 26: 303-309
- Dahl, J., Melin, L. and Lund, L., (1987) “Effects of contingent relaxation treatment program on adults with refractory seizures”, Epilepsia 28: 125-132
- Dahl, J., Melin, L. and Leissner, P., (1988) “Effects of a behavioral intervention on epileptic seizure behavior and paroxysmal activity: A systematic replication of three cases of children with intractable epilepsy”, Epilepsia 29: 172-183
- Dahl, J., Gustavsson, D. and Melin, L., (1990) “Effects of a behavior treatment program on children with asthma”. Journal of Asthma 27: 41-46
- Dahl, J., Lindquist, B., Tysk, C., Leissner, P., Philipson, L., Jarnerot, G., (1991) “Effects of a behavioral medicine approach to chronic constipation”, Journal of Diseases in Colon and Rectum, 09.769-776
- Dahl, J., Brorson, L.O. & Melin, L., (1992) “Effects of a broad-spectrum behavioral treatment program on children with refractory epileptic seizures: An eight year follow-up”, Epilepsia 33, 1: 98-102,
- Dahl, J. (1998) “A Behavioral Medicine Approach to the analysis and treatmentof childhood asthma”, Scandinavian Journal of Behavior Therapy, 27,:1, 30-41.
- Johansson, C. Dahl, J., Jannert, M. Melin, L, Andersson, G. (1998) “Effects of a cognitive-behavioral pain-management program”. Behavioral Research and Therapy, 36, 915-930.
- Dahl, J. Nilsson, A. (2001) “Evaluation of a preventive behavioral medicine work-site intervention for public health workers at risk for developing chronic pain”. European Journal of Pain, 5; 1-12
- Wicksell, R. & Dahl Olerud, J. (2003) “Evaluation of a behavior analysis and treatment of progressive myoclonus epilepsy, type Unverricht - Lundborg: A case study”. Scandinavian Journal of Behavior Therapy.
- Dahl, J, Wilson, K., Nilsson, A (2004) “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and the Treatment of Persons at Risk for Long-Term Disability Resulting from Stress and Pain Symptoms” Behavior therapy
- Dahl, J., Lundgren, T. (2005) “Behavior Analysis of Epilepsy: Conditioning mechanisms, be-havior technology and the contribution of ACT”. The Behavior Analyst Today, 6 (3), 191-202.
- Wicksell RK, Dahl J, Magnusson B, Olsson GL. “Using acceptance and commitment therapy in the rehabilitation of an adolescent female with chronic pain: a case example”. Cogn Behav Pract (2005);12: 415–23.
- Lundgren, T. Dahl, J. Melin, L, Kies,, B. “Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Drug Refractory Epilepsy: A RCT trial in South Africa.—A pilot study”, Epilepsia, (2006)
- Lundgren, T., Dahl, J., Melin, L., Yardi, N. (2008) “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Yoga for drug refractory epilepsy: A Randomized controlled trial, Epilepsy and Behavior”.
- Lundgren, T., Dahl, J., Hayes, S. (2008) “Evaluation of mediators of change in the treatment of epilepsy with acceptance and commitment therapy”. Journal of Behavior Medicine
- Plumb, J. Stewart, I, Dahl, J,  Lundgren, T, (2009) “In search of meaning: Values in  Modern clinical behavior analysis”, The Behavioral Analysis, 32, 85-103
- Thorsell J, Finnes A, Dahl J, Lundgren T, Gybrant M, Gordh T, Buhrman M. “A Comparative Study of 2 Manual-based Self-Help Interventions, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Applied Relaxation, for Persons With Chronic Pain”. Clin J Pain. 2011 May 2.
- Lundgren, T. Luoma, J., Dahl, J. Strosahl, K. Melin, L. “The Bull’s Eye Value Survey: a Psychometric Evaluation, Cognitive and Behavioral Practice” (2012)
- Weineland, S., Arvidsson, D., Kakoulidis, T. P., & Dahl, J. (2012).” Acceptance and commitment therapy for bariatric surgery patients, a pilot RCT”. Obesity Research and Clinical Practice, 6(1), e21-e30. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2011.04.004
Ly, K.H., Dahl, J., Carlbring, P. & Andersson, G. (2012). “Development and initial evaluation of a smartphone application based on acceptance and commitment therapy”, Springer Plus
- Weineland, S, Lillis, J, Dahl, J, “Measuring Experiential Avoidance in a Bariatric Surgery Population- Psychometric Properties of AAQ-W”, Obesity Research in Clinical Practise (2012)
- Wieneland, S, Hayes, S.C. Dahl, J., “Psychological Flexlibility and the Gains of Acceptance-based treatment for post-bariatric surgery: six-month follow-up and a test of the underlying model”, Clinical Obesity, 2012
- Wieneland, S, Alfonsson, S., Dahl, J., Ghaderi, A, “Development and validation of a new questionnaire measuring eating disordered behaviors post bariatric surgery”, Clinical Obesity. 2012

Books
- Dahl, J., Epilepsy: A behavior medicine approach to assessment and treatment, A handbook for professionals working with epilepsy, (250 pages) Hogrefe & Huber Publishers, Gottingen, Seattle, 1992
- Dahl, J., Wilson, K. G., Luciano, C., & Hayes, S. C. (2005). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain. Reno, NV: Context Press.
- Dahl, J. Lundgren, T. Living Beyond Your Pain, New Harbinger, 2006
- Dahl, J. Lundgren, T. Släpp Taget om Smärtan, Wahlström & Widstrand (2008)
- Dahl, J. Plumb, Stewart, I, Lundgren, T. The Art and Science of Valuing in Psychotherapy, New Harbinger, 2009
Lillis, J. Dahl, J. Weineland, S. The Diet Trap: Feed Your Psychological Needs and End the Weight Loss Struggle Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New Harbinger 2014
- ACT and RFT in Relationships: Helping Clients Deepen Intimacy and Maintain Healthy Commitments Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Relational Frame TheoryJoAnne Dahl (Author), Ian Stewart (Author), Christopher Martell (Author), Jonathan S Kaplan, New Harbinger, 2014

Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology

The project is closed but research continues on the topic.

(Gunilla Bohlin)

Keywords: attachment temperament socioemotional development parenting.

The developmental group consists presently of about 15 persons at different levels (PhDs and doctoral students). The focus is on socioemotional development, mainly studied in longitudinal designs. Age periods covered include infancy, toddlerhood, preschool age and middle childhood. The main theoretical perspectives are attachment theory and temperament coupled with a health psychology perspective including stress, support systems and social background factors. Developmental pathways for both problems, competencies and general personality traits are studied.

(Berit Hagekull)

Keywords: attachment temperament socioemotional development parenting

My focus is on socioemotional development, studied mainly in longitudinal designs. Temperament and attachment are the primary theoretical perspectives, paired with a health psychology perspective including stress, support systems and demographic factors. Developmental pathways for problems, competencies, and general personality traits are studied. Age periods covered include infancy, toddlerhood, preschool age, middle childhood, and young adulthood.
Analyses of the young adulthood data has begun recently with a focus on predictions from infancy and early childhood.

(Ann-Margret Rydell)

Keywords: socio-emotional development, disruptive behavior, parent- and peer relations

My focus is on socioemotional development, mainly studied in longitudinal designs in population samples. Central aspects of development that I have studied are disruptive behavior problems such as hyperactivity/impulsivity, oppositional and aggressive behavior, social competence, emotional functioning and social relations. Stability in behavior and factors such as relations to parents and peers that may affect development are investigated. Recent and current projects regard the longitudinal relations of ADHD- and other externalizing behaviors to adaptation. Some of these projects focus on gender differences in the correlates and sequelae of disruptive behaviors.

The Early Development of Emotion and Behaviour Regulation

(Gunilla Stenberg)

Key words: emotion regulation, compliance, social referencing, social functioning, infant, infant-parent interaction, longitudinal studies

To learn to regulate emotions and behaviour is one of the most important developmental tasks during childhood. Constructs such as emotion regulation, compliance and social referencing have been used to describe behaviours that help the infant deal with distressing and compelling situations. Emotion regulation refers to the ability to regulate strong emotions, especially controlling negative emotions. Compliance, a key component of self-regulation, refers to the childs ability to go along with day-to-day requests. Social referencing describes how infants seek and use information from the behaviour of other people in order to regulate their own behaviour in new situations. Using a longitudinal design, examining emotion and behaviour regulation strategies at different ages, and taking into consideration moderational and mediational effects among these abilities, this research is designed to investigate how the childs ability to regulate emotions and behaviours develops during the early years, and how differences in regulation relate to different aspects of later social functioning. One major objective of this research has been to develop methods to assess early regulation strategies.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Autobiopraphical Memory

(Hedvig Söderlund)

My work lies within cognitive neuroscience, as I am interested in the relation between brain and behavior. My main interest is the organization of human memory in the brain.

ECT is sometimes used to treat otherwise treatment-resistant depression. In spite of mood enhancement, its use is complicated by commonly reported memory impairment. However, the extent and duration of this impairment have not been established, and it is also not understood what effects ECT may have on the brain that can cause such an impairment. This project aims at clarifying these questions.

Emotion Psychology

(Ulf Dimberg)

Facial expressions, psychophysiology and cognitive aspects of emotion.
Keywords: Emotion, facial expression, EMG, EEG, autonomic activity, automatic responses, unconscious reactions, experience of emotion, hemispheric asymmetry, gender differences, social fear.

Abstract: "Emotion" is studied in a biological/evolutionary perspective. Based on theories that fundamental/basic emotions are controlled by biologically given "affect programs", questions are focused on how emotions are manifested as specific bodily response patterns; how rapidly the responses are manifested; and if emotional responses can be evoked and manifested as distinct physiological reactions, independently of conscious cognitive processes. The emotional activity is studied in three aspects of the emotional response system; i.e. the expressive, the physiological, and the cognitive level. Particularly, facial expressions are measured with an electromyographic (EMG) technique. Distinguished facial EMG response patterns are related to different autonomic responses as well as EEG measures and different cognitive aspects of the emotional response. Further questions are focused on unconscious reactions, facial-feedback, neuropsychological aspects of emotion e.g. hemispheric asymmetry, gender differences, emotional empathy, empathic accuracy, and clinical relevant groups such as phobics and persons with asperger syndrome.

The project is on-going.

Executive Functions and Development

(Carin Marciszko)

My main interest lies in studying executive control functions, such as working memory and inhibition, in children. My research investigates the normal development of executive functions, as well as executive function deficits in ADHD and other externalizing behavior problems. A current project investigates the relation between aggressive behaviors and executive functions in school-age children, as well as how these factors work together in concurrently as well as longitudinally predict peer relations. Executive functioning refers to cognitive control functions, enabling goal-directed behavior. Further, we will specifically study how the executive functions of actively maintaining a mental representation of a goal in mind (i.e., working memory) and withholding behavior that is inappropriate according to that goal (i.e., inhibition) relate to different types of aggressive behavior.

Heterogeneity in Children with ADHD in a Developmental Perspective: Symptom Domains, Neuropsychological Processes, and Comorbidity

(Cecilia Wåhlstedt)

Keywords: ADHD, Heterogeneity, Neuropsychological Pathways, Parent- and Child relations, Comorbidity

Hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention are common behaviors among young children. Developmentally inappropriate levels of these behaviors may lead to diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in childhood and is estimated to affect 5-10% of children worldwide and is associated with significant adverse consequences for the affected child, family and society at large. Thereby, the social and economic costs of childhood ADHD are considerable. It should be noted that although many children do not meet the full criteria for an ADHD diagnosis they may still experience negative consequences similar to those experienced by children diagnosed with ADHD. Heterogeneity in children with ADHD symptoms is a well-known phenomenon. This heterogeneity is mainly occurring in three different areas: (1) expression of the two ADHD symptom domains (hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention), (2) neuropsychological impairments (e.g. working memory) and (3) related behavioral problems (e.g. defiance and learning difficulties). The level of knowledge about how this heterogeneity looks is limited because few studies have been conducted with this aim. The project builds on our previous research in the field and the purpose of the project is to study how neuropsychological impairments in children with ADHD symptoms change during development. We will further study children with ADHD symptoms that do not exhibit neuropsychological deficits in order to be able to detect the possible factors responsible for ADHD symptoms in these children. Children from two existing non-clinical samples will be studied where children with high levels of ADHD symptoms are included and a longitudinal design will be used. Increased knowledge in this area can help us to identify more homogeneous groups of children with ADHD symptoms, which in turn can improve the early identification and treatment of children with this behavioral problem.

Hippocampus’ Role in Episodic Memory

(Hedvig Söderlund)

When we recall an event from our own life, we retrieve an episodic memory. In this project we examine what role the hippocampus has in this retrieval, and how it interacts with other brain regions during retrieval. We also study how repeated retrieval may change the neural correlates of a memory.

Psychological Benefits of Contact with Nature

(Terry Hartig, Mats Block, Per Lindberg, Freddie Lymeus)

Since the move to Blåsenhus, researchers at the Department of Psychology have initiated collaboration with the staff at the adjacent Botanical Gardens and Tropical Greenhouse for the conduct of behavioral research on psychological benefits of contact with nature.  The proximity of the two facilities and the presence of relevant expertise have opened up possibilities for innovative research along different lines, including basic processes, clinical applications, occupational health, and feasibility. The collaborative framework is being developed by Terry Hartig, professor of environmental psychology, together with Mats Block, director of the Linnéan Gardens of Uppsala, Per Lindberg, professor of clinical psychology, and Freddie Lymeus, a licensed counselling psychologist who is completing a doctoral dissertation on restorative skills training (ReST).  Among other activities, the collaborative framework is meant to provide possibilities for undergraduate and graduate students at the Department of Psychology to do thesis research, and to date five M.SC. theses have been completed in greenhouse and garden settings on topics including applied relaxation training, mindfulness meditation training, and study break quality.

Contacts: terry.hartig@ibf.uu.se, mats.block@botan.uu.se, per.lindberg@psyk.uu.se, freddie.lymeus@psyk.uu.se

Psychology of Eating

(Timo J Hursti)

In various projects mechanisms related to avoidance of specific foods are being studied. The factors of interest include especially food aversions, the emotion of disgust and symptoms of nausea and vomiting.

The Role of Early Family Environment in the Development of Cognitive Self-Regulation: A Five Year Longitudinal Study

(Karin Brocki)

Key words: attachment, scaffolding, sensitivity, executive functions, behavioral problems.

The main aim of this longitudinal project is to study quality of early family environment in the development of cognitive self-regulation (Executive Functions; EF). A second aim is to uniquely integrate the studied social and cognitive aspects of a child`s development as possible predictors of early behavioral problems. The project will provide knowledge of theoretical relevance for issues of great current interest on the importance of environmental conditions for the development of EF. For the first time, this socio-cognitive longitudinal design will allow answers to open empirical questions as to quality of family environment and EF as possible separate, interacting or mediating pathways of early behavioral problems. The family environment will be broadly assessed through observations and questionnaires including attachment quality, parental sensitivity, scaffolding, level of family chaos/stress. Quality of early family environment will be developmentally linked in short and longer term developmental studies to broad aspects of EF and later common behavioral problems. From an applied perspective, such linkages may enable more accurate prediction of risk for, as well as more accurate intervention targets mitigating, problem behaviors. Finally, the longitudinal design will allow for theoretically important data, mapping the early developmental sequence of EF and will provide critical cues to the underlying structure of EF development.

The project is on-going.

Sex Differences in Episodic and Spatial Memory and its Neural Correlates

(Hedvig Söderlund)

In this study we aim at further understanding the organization of episodic and spatial memory, by examining these in men and women who typically differ in their performance. In a separate study this will also be assessed in epileptic patients who have undergone temporal lobectomy.

Collaborators in these projects: Mats Fredrikson, Agneta Herlitz, Eva Kumlien, Brian Levine, Morris Moscovitch, Jonas S Persson, Lars-Olof Wahlund, Johan Wikström.

Selected publications
Söderlund, H., Kumar, N., Mandic, M., Moscovitch, M., & Levine, B. (2011). As time goes by – Hippocampal connectivity changes with remoteness of autobiographical memory retrieval.
Söderlund, H., Black, S. E., Miller, B. L., Freedman, M., & Levine, B. (2008). Episodic memory and regional atrophy in frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Neuropsychologia, 46, 127-136.
Söderlund, H., Grady, C., Easdon, C., & Tulving, E. (2007) Acute effects of alcohol on neural correlates of episodic memory encoding. Neuroimage, 35, 928-939.
Söderlund, H., Nilsson, L.-G., Berger, K., Breteler, M., de Ridder, M., Dufouil, C., Fuhrer, R., Giampoli, S., Hofman, A., Pajak, A., Sans, S., Schmidt, R., & Launer, L. J. (2006). Cerebral changes on MRI and cognitive function: the CASCADE Study. Neurobiology of Aging, 27, 16-23.

Side-Effects of Cancer Chemotherapy

(Timo J Hursti)

General mechanisms of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting as well as factors explaining the individual variation in these side-effects are being studied. The study methods include assessments of personality and psychological well-being, neuroendocrinological factors and brain function.

Social Communication in Children with Visual Impairments

(Gunilla Stenberg)

Key words: blindness, visual impairment, childhood low vision, social communication, child-parent communication

The developing child encounters a stream of new and novel events. When the sighted child is uncertain about how to handle a new situation, the child often looks at another person present to gain information about that persons reaction to the event. The information is then used by the infant in order to form an understanding of the situation and to regulate behaviour. Children who are blind or visually impaired may experience even greater uncertainty in their daily life due to the loss of sight. How do visually impaired children obtain information when they encounter a new object or a new situation? This project is expected to gain knowledge of how visually impaired children use alternative pathways to obtain information about the surroundings. It will contribute to our understanding of how verbal, auditory, and tactile abilities compensate the loss of sight. Knowledge about how children with visual impairments construct meaning through social experiences can lead to improved intervention practices. 

Social Communication in Infants

(Gunilla Stenberg)

Key words: infant, infant-parent interaction, social referencing, social communication, theory of mind

At the end of the first year, the infant begins to show a certain kind of looking behaviour when confronted with ambiguous stimuli. The infant looks to and fro, from the object that elicits the ambiguity to another person present in the situation. According to the social referencing hypothesis, this behaviour can be interpreted as information-seeking, that is, the infant looks at the other person in order to gain information about that person's appraisal of the event. The infant then uses the information to form an understanding of the situation and to regulate behaviour. However, to seek out and use information in the facial, vocal, and gestural reactions of others does not exclusively involve looking behaviour; it also involves an awareness of other people as carriers of information. Thus, cognitive processes have to be engaged. At what age the infant has acquired such a sophisticated cognitive capacity is still a question. In a series of studies we examine the origins of social referencing in infancy. These studies are expected to result in new insights into how this socio-cognitive process contributes to our understanding of childrens acquisition of a theory of mind.

TIPPS - Skräddarsydd internetbaserad självhjälpsbehandling för personer med psykologisk problematik och långvarig smärta (only in Swedish)

Project homepage (in Swedish)

Visual Perception

(Leo Poom)

My research interest is focused on visual perception and concerns questions about information integration, gestalt formation, three-dimensional shape perception, motion perception, visual working memory, and the approximate number system (ANS).

Information Integration
The aim of one of the current research projects, supported by grants from the Swedish research council (Vetenskapsrådet, VR), is to use psychophysical methods to test visual information integration models. Information about visually specified shapes can be mediated by several surface media. For instance, contrasts in brightness, colour, texture, motion and stereoscopic depth can be used to distinguish shapes against the background (figure-ground segregation and gestalt formation). Are these features promoting activity in independent channels (race models) or are they combined to activate a common channel (co-activation models)? These models can be distinguished empirically by comparing results from conditions where two features are combined with corresponding conditions where the features are used in isolation. In laboratory settings, where images are generated by a computer and displayed on a screen, different information media can be used in isolation or combined in controlled conditions. In typical experiments the task may be to localise or identify some target embedded in noise elements. The target may be an individual element or multiple elements forming a specific pattern which forms the target. The first target condition is used to examine information integration in element detection and the second target condition is used to examine information integration in gestalt formation. These two processes are believed to occur sequentially in the visual system. The variables under investigation are the information media, used either in isolation or combined, to display the target and the results may be the measured response times or the percent correct responses.

The project is closed.

Visual Working Memory
In collaboration with Henrik Olsson (Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin) and supported by grants from the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) we are currently investigating human visual working memory. What we today call working memory is closely related to executive processes, attention, consciousness, and intelligence. In order to understand human thinking it is of fundamental importance to understand the nature of working memory representations. In the literature on working memory, a prominent theme is its limited capacity. There are, however, several problems associated with the measurement of working memory capacity which may contribute to inflated capacity estimates. In regard to visual working memory, earlier methods sometimes made it possible for people to enhance their performance with the help of verbal strategies, categorization, and use of long term memory. We have started the development of a new method for measuring visual working memory capacity in which people’s use of strategies is minimized. When the influence of other processes and representations besides the visual ones, our preliminary results indicate that the capacity of visual working memory is only one object. This is in contrast to recent capacity estimates of around four easily categorized objects such as, for example, squares and triangles. With our new method we are going to investigate how limited our visual working memory capacity really is and the contributing factors to this limitation. In short: What and how much can we really represent in visual working memory?

The project is closed.

Perception of Number
It is claimed that the precision of non-symbolic numerosity comparisons lays the foundation for our formal mathematics achievement, and is coded within a modal invariant Approximate Number System (ANS). Still, numerosity may or may not be represented independent of perceptual cues or be independent of other sensory magnitudes such as time, weight, and length. Research hints that different numerosity tasks tap different systems, and this project aims to map out which tasks tap which system and find task specific links to cognitive abilities in an attempt to properly understand the nature of non-symbolic number representation and its relation to other cognitive abilities. Psychophysical methods on humans are applied to estimate thresholds for crossmodal and crossfomat numerosity conditions, cue conditions, and for sensory discrimination tasks. Thresholds are correlated with cognitive skills measured using a battery of math and intelligence tests. While cognitive and developmental scientists have been concerned with the relationship between numerosity accuracy and cognitive abilities, vision scientists have aimed their effort on the visual aspects of numerosity stimuli. This project bridges these fields and contributes to a deeper understanding of how we represent and process numbers and magnitudes and study how core knowledge systems may serve as a basis for formal knowledge systems, which in the end may help to improve mathematics education.

The project is on-going.

Work and Organizational Psychology

(Carl Åborg)

Home Care
The project studied home care/assisted living in two municipalities. Main aim: to develop the compensation and quality models, to achieve good staffing, training and personnel continuity and thus good quality of delivered services. Studied areas: 1) quality of care from staff and clients' perspectives, 2) productivity and efficiency, 3) the staff's experience of working conditions, work satisfaction and health. Questionnaires were answered by 346 employees in the large municipality (response rate 70%). In the small municipality the questionnaires were answered on two occasions, two years apart. First occasion answered 42 of 50 (response rate 84%) and second 40 of 60 (66%). Nine unit managers were interviewed. Group interviews with staff were conducted in both municipalities. Administrative and financial data were collected. Dialogue meetings were performed with the service providers. The quality of delivered services was perceived as high, except for services to patients with mental disorders / disease, where many experienced quality as inadequate. Helping patients with disorders / disease had significant relationships with high effort at work, reduced work-related well-being, impaired occupational health and reluctance or unwillingness to continue to work there. Reduced well-being and work-related ill-health increases the risk for absenteeism and staff turnover. The compensation system needs to be developed to provide economic incentive to keep adequate staffing and provide space for training. Resources are needed for more permanent employment, more full-time jobs and fewer "broken pass". Measures are proposed concerning the compensation system and quality monitoring. Concrete suggestions are given on how the municipalities can meet future demands for high-quality care in home care services, with both municipal and private providers.

The project closed in 2014.

OHS Methods
The aim of the project was to identify and develop successful methods and approaches for occupational health services (OHS) in the work of early vocational rehabilitation (TAR) in municipalities. The project includes a questionnaire to all registered OHS units in Sweden, interviews with staff from a selection of FHV units and their client companies, interviews with employees after sick leave, and focus groups with local managers concerning the use of OHS.

The results show that OHS has the potential to act as a partner to the employer in the process of TAR. Close, long-term relationships between OHS and the client company are success factors. A systematic communication and structured working methods and procedures facilitate relationships. Clear procedures for managing sickness absence, where OHS is involved in dialogue and the contact between the employer and the absentee is retained, are positive. For work ability assessment the importance of a structured ordering process where employers are clear about the purpose were emphasized. Continuity is hampered by short contract periods and frequent changes of OHS suppliers. A particularly good working relationship has been described by employers with internally organized OHS with long-term contracts. The results also show how some employers reduced their need for OHS by building up internal HR structures that replace some of the services on TAR that OHS can offer.
The needs for improved assessment methods that relate the individual's ability to work demands were identified. OHS calls for more cooperation with employers on preventive measures and work adaptations.

The project closed in 2014.