Principal Investigator

Gina M. Grimshaw, PhD.

Gina has an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Waterloo. After postdoctoral work at the University of California San Diego she became an Associate Professor at California State University San Marcos. Gina moved to Victoria University of Wellington in 2007, and is director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory and an Associate Professor/Reader. Her research has been funded by the Marsden Fund; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE); National Institute of Mental Health (US); and the Neurological Foundation (NZ).

You can view Gina’s staff profile on the Victoria University of Wellington website here.

Research Fellows

Christopher Maymon, PhD.

Chris completed his PhD at Vic in 2018, and has since been focused on the application of Virtual Reality technology for conducting psychological experiments, under the purview of the CANLab. Chris’ current research focuses on presence (i.e., our sense of ‘being there’) and the influence that different emotional states have on how present we feel. In the VR Lab, Chris also investigates such topics as: how attention changes as a function of fear, coherence between subjective, physiological and behavioural components of emotional experience, how we regulate strong emotions, the ability to infer one’s emotional state from a representation of their movement, and the nature of ‘fire interest’.


Michael Tooley, PhD.

Michael has been working in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab since 2008. He recently completed his PhD, which examined emotion regulation and vulnerability to depression. He was particularly interested in psychophysiological and electrophysiological markers of vulnerability and their relationship to cognitive and emotional processes. Michael now works as a neuroscience lab technician, and a teaching fellow for the Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience Masters program at VUW.

Lab Manager

Tim Gastrell

Tim has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and completed his Master’s Degree in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at VUW in 2022. In his thesis, he explored the cognitive mechanisms underlying awareness of vision. Tim oversees general lab operations, provides technical assistance, maintains the VR Lab codebase, and helps students get their research up and running.

Research Assistants

Current Students

Justin Murphy, PhD Student

Justin completed his Msc in 2015 with the CANlab. He is now working towards his PHD, looking into the processes of distraction by emotional stimuli and how mindfulness training can help us to control our attention.

Laura Kranz, PhD Student

Laura completed a Master of Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience in 2015. She is now working towards her PhD, working with both the School of Psychology and the Centre for Science in Society. Her research looks at the role of emotion in science communication.

Lauren Pritchard, PhD Student

Ren is currently completing her PhD in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience. Ren’s research question is focused on studying the Psychology of Awe and is working alongside the Virtual Reality team to study this.

Joanna Mete, PhD Student

Joanna has completed undergraduate degrees in Educational Science and in Psychology, as well as a masters’ degree in Cognitive Psychology. She is currently conducting her doctoral research in the CANlab, focusing on the relationship between cognitive control and anxiety, aiming to understand potential underlying mechanisms of attentional (and more broadly cognitive) processing in the anxious mind. She is also interested in the implications of attentional and cognitive processing in areas such as emotion regulation, coping, and well-being.

Jordan Schulde, MSc Student

 Jordan is currently working towards her Masters in Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience. Her focus is on how fear influences our cognition, particularly attention, cognitive control, and response inhibition (the ability to stop yourself from doing something). To do this, she uses realistic Virtual Reality to create compelling and strong emotional states. Jordan hopes that her research will add to current knowledge on the interaction between emotion and cognition, and perhaps also assist within more applied contexts.

Nat Gajdusek, MSc Student

Nat completed her undergraduate in psychology and philosophy at VUW and is working towards completing the Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience Masters program. Her thesis focusses on the development of a VR paradigm to investigate the influence of disgust on cognition.

Lab Volunteers

Damian Tjiptono, Volunteer Research Assistant

Damian completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology at VUW and is currently completing the first half of his CBNS Masters programme.

Madison Jones, Volunteer Research Assistant

Maddie is currently completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology and Criminology. Maddie’s broader research interests include emotion regulation, cognitive control, and using VR technology to investigate psychological questions.

Lara Cooke, Volunteer Research Assistant

Lara is in her third year of a Bachelor of Science degree at Victoria University of Wellington. She is working towards a major in psychology and a minor in statistics. Lara is a volunteer who helps to run research participants

Max Abbott, Volunteer Research Assistant

Max is currently in his second year of a Bachelor of Science degree at VUW with a double major in psychology and science communications. Max volunteers at the cognitive and affective neuroscience lab and is interested in how our cognitive abilities are impacted by high-arousal emotions like fear.

Michael Lin, Volunteer Research Assistant

Michael completed his undergraduate in psychology at Victoria University of Wellington and is a volunteer who helps to run research participants. He is looking forward to starting his Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience Masters program at VUW.

Other Lab Members

Yulia Korduke, Lauren Bell, Cathryn Bjarnesen, Petra Bolitho, Kieran Carnegie, Angus Chapman, Nikki Duff, Shannon Garland Duignan, Rebecca Hamilton, Kelly Hewitt, Line Johansen, Winter Jones, Claire Marsh, Linda Martis, Jeremy Meier, Tawhai Moss, Sophia Noble, Amy O’Connell, Hannah Quigan, Billy Richardson, Anne Rijnink, Elliot Robins, Elisabeth Schrammen, Brendan Sturt, Nurul Zani Soenarsono, Annabelle Wride, Anna Markovitz, Daniel Jenkins, Nick Heyworth, Shania Thomson, Stina Persen, Adriana Vasinca, Jessie Auckram, Carmela Espellarga, Madison Jones

Lab Alumni


Kealagh Robinson (2021). Thesis title: Emotion in non-suicidal self-injury: A contradiction between global self-reports and real-time responses [link]

Sophie Hedley (2020). Thesis title: Exploring the Role of Schizotypy in Creative Cognition [link]

Amy Walsh (2019). Thesis title: Motivation Reduces Positive and Negative Emotional Distractions [link]

Kameron Christopher (2019). Thesis title: Personal Predictions of Self-Reported Emotion Responses to Music Stimuli [link]

Hazel K. Godfrey (2017). Thesis title: A role for attentional bias in cognitive deficits in chronic pain? [link]

Jessica Clifton (2015). Thesis title: Training the Interpretation of Ambiguity [link]

Michael Tooley (2015). Thesis title: Emotion Regulation and Vulnerability to Depression: A Longitudinal Test of the Diathesis-Stress Model [link]

Julie Anne Séguin (2013). Thesis title: The Effect of Emotion on Time Perception for Complex Visual Stimuli [link]

Master of Science

Joe Cornes (2022). Thesis title: Dynamic Changes in Heart Rate Variability Under Threat: Exploring the Effects of Emotion Regulation on the Parasympathetic Nervous System [link]

Conor Bryant (2021). Thesis title: Understanding the cognitive differences in psychopathy: Emotional distraction across psychopathic traits [link]

André Botes (2020). Thesis title: Learning to Expect the Predictable: The Role of Expectation in the Cognitive Control of Attention [link]

Daniel Jenkins (2018). Thesis title: Awareness and Integration: Understanding the challenges of inferring multisensory integration outside of awareness [link]

Thomas Scott-Smith (2018). Thesis title: Alcohol and the Dysregulation of Cognitive Control: Exploring the Role of Emotion [link]

Dayna Mercer (2018). Thesis title: The Role of Attentional Bias in Excessive Food Consumption [link]

Rosanna Ellen Moody (2015). Thesis title: Testing the Asymmetric Inhibition Model: Frontal EEG Asymmetry Does Not Predict Inhibitory Control of Emotional Distractors [link]

Justin Lawrence Murphy (2015). EEG Evidence for the Effective Proactive Control of Emotional Distraction [link]

Adele Hogan (2015). Thesis title: Distortions in Predicted Motion: Pitch and Direction Influence Imagined Speed for a Visual Object during Occlusion [link]

Laura Kranz (2015). Thesis title: Proactive Control of Emotional Distraction: An ERP Investigation [link]

Lisa Michelle Hunkin (2014). Thesis title: Engagement with Angry Faces during Attentional Bias Modification: Insights from the N2pc [link]

Joshua James Foster (2013). Thesis title:  Attention Capture by Angry Faces Depends on the Distribution of Attention [link]

Jessie E. Stewart (2012). Thesis title: Do You Have a “Strict Purse”? The Routes to Meaning in Metaphor [link]

Frances Marie Bryson (2012). Thesis title: The Time-Course of Induced Interpretive Biases in Healthy Individuals Varying in Depressive Symptoms [link]

Hazel K. Godfrey (2011). Thesis title: Conceptual Metaphors of Emotion in Spoken Language: Good Is Up in Semantics and Prosody [link]

Amy Walsh (2010). Thesis title:  Words and Faces on Left and Right: Perceptual Asymmetries as a Marker for SSRI Responsiveness [link]

Megan Humphrey (2009). Thesis title: A Signal Detection Approach to the Perception of Affective Prosody in Anxious Individuals: A Developmental Study  [link]


Hedwig Eisenbarth, Victoria University of Wellington

David Carmel, Victoria University of Wellington

Christel Devue, Victoria University of Wellington

Paul Corballis, University of Auckland

Steve Most, University of New South Wales

Ruth Ann Atchley, University of Kansas

Mike Nicholls, Flinders University

Sebastian Ocklenburg, Ruhr Universitat Bochum

Jutta Peterburs, University of Muenster

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