Mike Anderson arrived in Australia from Edinburgh, Scotland, via Edinburgh and Oxford Universities,   and 6 years at the MRC Cognitive Development Unit in London. After 20 years as Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia and inaugural Director of the Neurocogntiive Development Unit, Professor Anderson became Dean of the School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch in April 2013.

Personal statement:

“Originally from Scotland, I have lived in Australia since 1990 and have never once looked back. Western Australia is just a fantastic place to live and work.

My work throughout this time has centred on understanding the nature of the mind, and specifically, what is called “the architecture of cognition” – how the mechanisms of mental processing give us knowledge of the world and allow us to see, hear, think and feel.  Initially this work focused on individual differences in speed of information processing but more recently has focused on investigating executive functions as the likely basis of developmental change in cognitive abilities. (For those readers interested in the theoretical underpinnings of this work please follow the link to the publications page). This interest has led to national and international collaborations with service providers and researchers who are interested in how children can find themselves on different developmental trajectories.

Project KIDS is an innovative methodology that brings children to the university for a unique child-friendly  “holiday program” where children are tested on information processing measures embedded in computer games, psychometric tests embedded in games, and have EEGs (“brain waves”) recorded with a special ‘space helmet’.    This methodology has driven our previous ARC grant which was a longitudinal developmental study – so far 9 papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals from this grant and that figure should at least double over the next few years.  Most recently the work on ageing and multi-tasking cemented a collaboration with Professor Sergio Della Sala of the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Centre at the University of Edinburgh in the form of an ARC discovery grant in 2012.  That same year we co-edited a book on Neuroscience and Education published by Oxford University Press reflecting my growing interest in translating cognitive theory to both neuroscience and education.

Project KIDS involves community partnerships with major paediatric service providers in WA for children with medical, behavioural and mental health needs and their families. By bridging the divide between university and community we make psychology accessible to other disciplines and to potential clients. These partnerships have evolved into service-research partnerships and shared grants to facilitate translational research opportunities.

It is gratifying to me that many of our Project KIDS trainees come from the undergraduate classes that I have taught that have piqued their interest in neurodevelopmental research.  My postgraduate research students and clinical trainees also stay in contact after graduation and indeed often return to work with Project KIDS, or collaborate on projects, grants and papers.  Currently two postdoctoral fellows remain in contact and are actively involved in writing collaborations while the third remains an active member of our team. Creating a supportive and innovative team atmosphere is one of our strengths.”