Niven, Elaine


  • United Kingdom

  • 329 Citations
  • 7 h-Index
If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I began my current position as a Lecturer at the University of Dundee in September of 2015. Before joining Psychology at Dundee I worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh, where I had gained both my PhD and my undergraduate degree, and I continued my link with the University of Edinburgh as an Honorary Fellow between 2015 and 2017.

In my research I have studied memory and cognition across a variety of populations including in younger adults, older adults, and in people with cognitive and/or with physical impairments. As part of what are often multidisciplinary teams, I have investigated temporary binding of visual and spatial information in working memory with Dr Louise Brown (University of Strathclyde), working memory and episodic memory with Professor Robert H. Logie (University of Edinburgh), and assessing cognition and behaviour in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) with Professor Sharon Abrahams and Dr Thomas Bak (University of Edinburgh). A number of these collaborations are ongoing. Throughout my research positions I have always been involved in teaching (including teaching courses Introduction to Cognitive Psychology, and Memory), and during this time also completed a PGCert in Academic Practice; I am now a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society.


- Level 1 Introductory Psychology 1 - Memory & Cognition; Introductory Psychology 2 - Attention, Learning, Memory

- Level 2 Biological Psychology; Ageing

- Level 3 Biological Psychology (module coordinator); Research Skills 3a - Practical 1

- Level 4 Dissertation supervisor

- MSc Practicum and/or dissertation supervisor 

- Undergraduate Learning and Teaching, Quality and Academic Standards lead for Psychology


I have an over-arching interest in how we mentally represent the world around us; how we store, manipulate, update and retrieve that information – often apparently seamlessly – and how this changes with age, and with situation – for example, with reduced resources to process incoming information. My research and supervision topics include the often closely associated areas of autobiographical memory, event representation, visuo-spatial working memory, working memory capacity, memory and ageing, and multitasking, with a particular interest in conducting research relating to how memory operates ‘in the real world’.



For Level 4 students - illustrative dissertations I have advised or supervised:

Over the past few years there has been a lot of media attention, as well as research, about the impact of smartphones on our day-to-day lives. Much media attention has focussed on potential consequences of ’thoughtless use’ of devices that appear to otherwise provide so much. How does the research compare to the hype? A range of dissertations have looked at related topics:

  • Does taking photographs impair our memory for what we are recording? In a replication and extension study of the work of Henkel (2014) we looked at the apparently negative consequences to memory of taking pictures of objects, and the possibly positive effect of zooming-in when doing so.
  • There is evidence to suggest that while we may well forget something that we have ‘off-loaded’ (for example, written down), or purposely tried to forget, there may also be unintended positive consequences - such as being better able to remember a following piece of information. Following Storm and Stone (2014), a dissertation study sought to test whether observed effects extend to remembering and forgetting pictures.
  • While monitoring your dinner as it cooks, you pick up up your phone and continue reading a paper that you started earlier, before pausing to answer the latest in a long line of texts in a group chat that’s trying to arrange your next holiday trip. You might feel a sense of achievement at being ‘time-efficient’ - but are we doing ourselves a disservice when we attempt to multi-task? A dissertation looked at the consequences (positive and/or negative) of different types of multi-tasking.

Investigating the boundaries of episodic memories: when we recall an event from our lives - a particular journey to a given location, a specific friend’s birthday celebration last month, yesterday’s family dinner, and so on -  we can break that event down into smaller and smaller components; what patterns can be found in the way we do this, and how do these differ across different types of event? Do these components, or the structure of these components, change over time? 

  • A final year undergraduate dissertation sought to test the generalisability and stability of a previously derived structure to the boundaries of episodic memories. 

External positions

Honorary Fellowship , University of Edinburgh

1 Sep 20151 Nov 2017

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Elaine Niven is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 8 Similar Profiles
Short-Term Memory Medicine & Life Sciences
Parkinson Disease Medicine & Life Sciences
Cognition Medicine & Life Sciences
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Medicine & Life Sciences
Executive Function Medicine & Life Sciences
Theory of Mind Medicine & Life Sciences
Episodic Memory Medicine & Life Sciences
Young Adult Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2012 2019

  • 329 Citations
  • 7 h-Index
  • 8 Article
  • 3 Chapter
  • 2 Conference contribution
51 Downloads (Pure)

Impairment in Theory of Mind in Parkinson’s Disease Is Explained by Deficits in Inhibition

Foley, J. A., Lancaster, C., Poznyak, E., Borejko, O., Niven, E., Foltynie, T., Abrahams, S. & Cipolotti, L., 28 May 2019, In : Parkinson's Disease. 2019, p. 1-8 8 p., 5480913.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Theory of Mind
Parkinson Disease
Inhibition (Psychology)

Preserving and forgetting in the human brain

Logie, R. H., Wolters, M. & Niven, E. H., 2018, Personal Multimedia Preservation: Remembering or Forgetting Images and Video. Mezaris, V., Niederee, C. & Logie, R. H. (eds.). Switzerland: Springer , p. 9-45 37 p. (Springer Series on Cultural Computing; vol. 2195-9064).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

increase in productivity
2 Citations (Scopus)
120 Downloads (Pure)

Sensitivity and specificity of the ECAS in Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy

Foley, J., Niven, E. H., Paget, A., Bhatia, K. P., Farmer, S. F., Jarman, P. R., Limousin, P., Warner, T. T., Morris, H. R., Bak, T. H., Abrahams, S. & Cipolotti, L., 9 May 2018, In : Parkinson's Disease. 2018, p. 1-8 8 p., 2426012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Parkinson Disease
Sensitivity and Specificity
Differential Diagnosis
Cognitive Dysfunction
7 Citations (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)

ECAS A-B-C: alternate forms of the Edinburgh Cognitive and Behavioural ALS Screen

Crockford, C. J., Kleynhans, M., Wilton, E., Radakovic, R., Newton, J., Niven, E. H., Al-Chalabi, A., Hardiman, O., Bak, T. H. & Abrahams, S., 5 Dec 2017, In : Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration. 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Healthy Volunteers
Research Personnel
13 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)

Visual feature binding in younger and older adults: encoding and suffix interference effects

Brown, L. A., Niven, E. H., Logie, R. H., Rhodes, S. & Allen, R. J., 7 Feb 2017, In : Memory. 25, 2, p. 261-275 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Young Adult
Age Groups
Alzheimer Disease
Costs and Cost Analysis


Chartered membership

Elaine Niven (Recipient), 2016

Prize: Election to learned society

Guarantors of Brain Travel Grant

Elaine Niven (Recipient), Jun 2015

Prize: Other distinction


Moray Endowment Fund Award - The University of Edinburgh

Elaine Niven (Recipient), Dec 2014

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

Data storage equipment
Virtual reality