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Dr Ellen Poliakoff

Photograph of Ellen Poliakoff

Senior Lecturer


I am interested in the overlap between cognition and motor processes, and the brain mechanisms underlying them; in particular, the relationship between eye movements and attention and cognitive changes in Parkinson’s disease. I am also interested in tactile and cross-modal attention. I am co-director of the BEAM (Body Eyes and Movement) lab with Dr Emma Gowen

Parkinson’s disease, action and cognition: My PhD work suggested that patients with Parkinson’s disease find stimuli in their environment more attention grabbing than do healthy subjects of the same age. I have also investigated how patients are affected by seeing action-relevant graspable objects and the sight of other people moving. Currently, we are investigating how Parkinson’s affects communication (PhD student funded by Parkinson’s UK) and imitation in Parkinson’s (project funded by the ESRC).

I have also researched how Parkinson’s affects everyday cognition, such as memory and attention lapses. And I have carried out a project the potential benefits of gym training on people with Parkinson's, supported by Parkinson's UK and in collaboration with Bolton Arena. More recently we have pilotted the use of computerised cognitive training for people with Parkinson’s.

Attention, the body and medically unexplained symptoms: I am interested in how we pay attention to touch and the body. I am collaborating with Dr Richard Brown and Dr Donna Lloyd to investigate how we may misperceive tactile stimuli and how this process may be affected in patients with medically unexplained symptoms.

Multisensory integration: Integrating information from different modalities (vision, hearing, touch) is of fundamental importance in everyday life. I am working with Emma Gowen to investigate how these processes are affected by autism and in old age.

Perception and Eye movements: I am also interested in perception more generally and have worked on the link between eye movements and memory for velocity and flavour perception. I am currently collaborating with Dr Marco Bertamini and Dr Alexis Makin (University of Liverpool) on the perception of symmetry.


  • PSYC11312 Sensation and Perception
  • PSYC21011 Perception and Action (module leader)
  • PSYC31132 Cases in Clinical Neuropsychology (module leader)
  • PSYC60301 Using Advanced Statistics Course (MRes)
  • PSYC60152 Cognitive Psychology for Clincial Neurosciences (MSc)
  • First year tutor for BSc(hons) Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology students

Social Responsibility

I am Chair of the Outreach Group for Psychological Sciences. I have co-organised many events involving hands-on activities about the brain and senses for the public at different venues, from the Manchester Museum to the Arndale.


I completed my BSc in Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Manchester in June 1998. I carried out my PhD (‘Tactile Spatial Attention and Parkinson’s Disease’) at the University of Manchester , which I completed in 2002. I then worked for 18 months as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Graham Barnes at UMIST, before taking up a lectureship at the School of Psychological Sciences in September 2003. I became a senior lecturer in 2010.

Selected publications


  • Couth S, Gowen E, Poliakoff E. (2014).

    Dissociating the affordance and spatial compatibility effects using a pantomimed reaching action. Exp Brain Res, 232, 855-864. eScholarID:233026


  • Mirams L, Poliakoff E, Brown RJ, Lloyd DM. (2013).

    Brief body-scan meditation practice improves somatosensory perceptual decision making. Consciousness and Cognition, 22, 348-359. eScholarID:177338

  • Poliakoff E, Beach N, Best R, Howard T, Gowen E. (2013).

    Can looking at a hand make your skin crawl? Peering into the uncanny valley for hands. Perception, 42, 998-1000. eScholarID:233025

  • Poliakoff E, Galpin AJ, McDonald K, Kellett M, Dick JPR, Hayes S, Wearden AJ. (2013).

    The effect of gym training on multiple outcomes in Parkinson’s disease: A pilot randomised waiting-list controlled trial. NeuroRehabilitation, 32, 125-134. eScholarID:177303

  • Poliakoff E. (2013).

    Representation of action in Parkinson's disease: Imagining, observing and naming actions. Journal of Neuropsychology, 7, 241-254.. eScholarID:207311


  • Gowen E, Poliakoff E. (2012).

    How does visuomotor priming differ for biological and non-biological stimuli? A review of the evidence. Psychological Research, 76, 407-420. eScholarID:134623 | DOI:10.1007/s00426-011-0389-5


  • Cleary RA, Poliakoff E, Galpin A, Dick JPR, Holler J. (2011).

    An investigation of co-speech gesture production during action description in Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, 17, 753-756. eScholarID:128736 | DOI:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2011.08.001

  • Galpin A, Tipper SP, Dick J, Poliakoff E. (2011).

    Object affordance and spatial-compatibility effects in Parkinson's disease. Cortex, 47(3), 332-341. eScholarID:76318 | DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2010.01.011

  • Lloyd DM, McKenzie KJ, Brown RJ, Poliakoff E. (2011).

    Neural correlates of an illusory touch experience investigated with fMRI. Neuropsychologia, 49, 3430-3438. eScholarID:134627 | DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.08.018

  • Makin AJ, Poliakoff E. (2011).

    Do common systems control eye movements and motion extrapolation? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64, 1327-1343. eScholarID:112745 | DOI:DOI:10.1080/17470218.2010.548562

  • Miles E, Brown R, Poliakoff E. (2011).

    Investigating the nature and time-course of the modality shift effect between vision and touch. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64(5), 871-888. eScholarID:93773 | DOI:10.1080/17470218.2010.514054


  • Brown RJ, Danquah AN, Miles E, Holmes E, Poliakoff E. (2010).

    Attention to the body in non-clinical somatoform dissociators depends on emotional state. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69, 249-257. eScholarID:79934 | DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.04.010

  • Mirams L, Poliakoff E, Brown RJ, Lloyd DM. (2010).

    Vision of the body increases interference on the somatic signal detection task. Experimental Brain Research, 202, 787–794. eScholarID:79440 | DOI:10.1007/s00221-010-2185-7

  • Poliakoff E, Galpin A, Dick J, Tipper SP. (2010).

    Does Parkinson's disease affect judgments about another person's action? Experimental Brain Research, 204, 327-333. eScholarID:76313 | DOI:10.1007/s00221-009-1976-1


  • Makin A, Poliakoff E, El-Deredy W. (2009).

    Tracking visible and occluded targets: changes in event related potentials during motion extrapolation. Neuropsychologia, 47(4), 1128. eScholarID:1d19042 | DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.01.010


  • Lloyd D, Mason L, Brown RJ, Poliakoff E. (2008).

    Development of a paradigm for measuring somatic disturbance in clinical populations with medically unexplained symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64( 1), eScholarID:1d18407 | DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.06.004

  • Poliakoff E, James Smith-Spark. (2008).

    Everyday cognitive failures and memory problems in Parkinson's patients without dementia. Brain and Cognition, 67, 340-350. eScholarID:1d16970 | DOI:10.1016/j.bandc.2008.02.004


  • Poliakoff E, Miles E, Li X, Blanchette I. (2007).

    The effect of visual threat on spatial attention to touch. Cognition, 102, 405-414. eScholarID:1d12645 | DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2006.01.006


  • Poliakoff E, Ashworth S, Lowe C, Spence C. (2006).

    Vision and touch in ageing: Crossmodal selective attention and visuotactile spatial interactions. Neuropsychologia, 44, 507-517. eScholarID:1d11052 | DOI:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.07.004

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