Joanna Brooks

Hey guys :) :) Thanks again for such great questions! NEW BBC BRAIN MAP!

Favourite Thing: To explore why different sides of the brain do different things



Corpus Christi High School 1992-1996


Degree in Psychology (BSc) University of Wales Cardiff; Degree in Reading, Language and Cognition (Masters) University of York; Degree in Psychophysics (Masters) University of St Andrews; Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults University of Cambridge; PhD in Experimental Psychology University of Edinburgh.

Work History:

I worked as a customer service advisor for three years at Lloyds TSB, I have also worked as a researcher in psycholinguistics at the University of Bristol, and a research fellow in human cognitive neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh


University of Edinburgh

Current Job:

Researcher in experimental psychology

Me and my work

Why the right side of the brain prefers the left side of space

Lots of studies have shown us that people pay more attention to the left side of space than the right. If they do, this may be because the right side of their brain (which we know is directly involved in spatial awareness) controls attention and memory resources.

One famous test of spatial attention is line bisection. You can try this yourself! Print a 20cm line on a piece of paper like this: myimage3
Now ask your friend to tell you where the middle of the line is and mark it with a pen. Then measure how far away from the real middle they were and note whether they perceived the middle towards the left or right. Usually, 90 % of people perceive the middle towards the left! One theory is that the right side of the brain directs attention towards the left.

One way to explore how the brain directs attention is to measure people’s brain activity. I can do this by placing electrodes on a person’s head and measuring their brain waves (see below). It doesn’t hurt at all.


My Typical Day

I wake up around 6.30am and take my Persian cat, Gray, outside in the garden to climb some trees and play around.
Here’s a picture of Grey
I have my breakfast (cornflakes and tea) and then I shower and leave around 8.30am. I arrive at the psychology department around 9am – here’s a picture:
I check my emails for about 30 minutes. I usually spend the rest of the day testing people in the psychology lab on psychological tests. For example, I might ask people to do a spatial memory task to explore how well people remember things placed on the left and right hand side. Very soon I will also be measuring and recording people’s brain waves when they do tasks like this! How exciting! I leave work around 6pm and then go to the gym or for a swim.

What I'd do with the money

Hands-on fun psychology workshop!

Wouldn’t it be really fun to see what really goes on in psychology? I’d like to set up a psychology workshop and invite people to take part in many different psychological tests. We have so many ways to explore people’s memory, attention, visual perception, brain waves, and even extra-sensory perception (‘the 6th sense’)!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Fun, caring, clever

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Lady Gaga, Black-eyed Peas

What is the most fun thing you've done?

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

To win the lottery, to own a fast car, to run the world’s best psychology laboratory

What did you want to be after you left school?

A psychologist!

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yes loads, usually for eating and talking in class.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Published a paper on why the right side of the brain prefers letter cAsE aLtErNaTeD words presented on the left

Tell us a joke.

What is pink and fluffy? Pink fluff. What is blue pink and fluffy? Pink fluff holding it’s breath.