Caterina Cinel's Home Page








Contact information
Caterina Cinel
Department of Psychology
University of Essex
Colchester CO4 3SQ
Tel.: 01206 874913


I am a Senior Research Officer in the Department of Psychology and a Research Fellow in the  School Computer Science and Electronic Engineering of the University of Essex.


Current and past research

Visual feature binding, cross-modal feature binding and attention
The mechanisms underlying integration of information both within the visual  modality  and from different sensory modalities are among my main research interests. I am interested in understanding how feature binding takes place and, in particular: Brain Computer Interface
Since 2003 I have been collaborating with the Brain Computer Interface (BCI) group in the School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Essex. BCI uses EEG signals as input signals to be given to an external device (usually a computer) for processing, detection and, more generally, decision making.
Traditionally, out of the many possible Evoked Response Potentials (ERPs) available, only the P300 complex has routinely been used in BCI. My main interest is to understand whether this is an appropriate choice and, more generally, to find out what are the best EEG components to use for BCI and what are the best conditions/paradigm/stimuli that produce these components. Important questions in this respect are:
Are there particular EEG components that are generated by the implicit recognition of a target?
How and why can attention and perceptual load affect P300s or, more generally, ERPs?
What signals are generated when a target is presented but not detected?
What happens in the presence of perceptual errors?

Since 2011 my BCI research activity has started to move from more standard approaches (single-user BCI to control external devices), to explore what is now called "collaborative BCI", where EEG signals from two or more users are converged to produce "collective decisions". In our first investigations, we applied collaborative BCI to our existing applications (for example to control a BCI mouse cursor). However, more recently we have started the investigation of how EEG signals, physiological measures and behavioural features can be exploited to improve group-decision making (I'm a currently co-investigator and PhD co-supervisor in grant from the UK Ministry of Defence on precisely this topic). In this specific area of research, fundamental questions we are trying to answer include:
Currently we are investigating the possibility of integrating neural, physiological and behavioural features via BCI to improve group decisions from multiple non-communicating observers. Benefits and drawbacks of this approach are being investigated in different scenarios (visual search tasks, target detection in spoken sentences, complex decisions, face recognition), with different perceptual modalities and when different members of a group are exposed to different sources of information (and at different times).

At the University of Essex, I am also investigating the use of technologies to enhance and augment memory. The study involves applying current psychological theory derived in the memory laboratory to real world events. Since the project started (January 2014), I have conducted research that examines the memorial consequences of reviewing a subset of earlier events on the subsequent recall of both reviewed and un-reviewed memories. I investigate a phenomenon called retrieval-induced forgetting, both with semantic and episodic/autobiographical memories, and both in strictly controlled lab conditions as well as in real-world scenarios. In the project, not only we explore the possibility of enhancing memories using technologies, but also we try to answer a number of questions, including, "Does retrieval-induced forgetting occur in real life? ", "How can we modulate recall and forgetting, both in the real-world and in lab conditions?"; "How can technologies be used to exploit what we know about recalling and forgetting?"
In the past I have worked on a project whose main aim was to understand why memory for words that are repeated in adjacent positions in a list are remembered less well than words repeated with intervening items, a phenomenon called spacing effect. The project focused, in particular, on the understanding of the role of semantic activation as the mechanism underlying the spacing effect in cued-memory tasks for familiar words.

Effect of mobile phone electromagnetic fields on cognitive functioning
In 2002-2005 I have been investigating the possible effects of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emitted by mobile phone on attention, memory and auditory perception. I have conducted several studies with a large number of participants to understand whether: a) mobile phone EMFs can have immediate effects on cognitive processing; b) cognitive performance of mobile phone users differs from cognitive performance of non-users; c) there are any particular subjective symptoms associated with exposure to mobile phone EMFs.


Valeriani, D., Poli, R., & Cinel, C. (2015). A Collaborative Brain-Computer Interface to Improve Human Performance in a Visual Search Task. In 7th International IEEE EMBS Neural Engineering Conference.

Valeriani, D., Poli, R., & Cinel, C. (2015). A Collaborative Brain-Computer Interface for Improving Group Detection of Visual Targets in Complex Natural Environments. In 7th International IEEE EMBS Neural Engineering Conference.

Poli, R., Valeriani, D., & Cinel, C. (2014). Collaborative brain-computer interface for aiding decision-making. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102693. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102693.

Matran-Fernandez, A., Poli, R., & Cinel, C. (2013). Collaborative Brain-computer Interfaces for the Automatic Classification of Images. In Neural Engineering (NER), 2013 6th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on (pp. 1096-1099).

Cinel, C., Poli, R., Citi, L., Roberson, D. (2013). An Exploration of the Effects of Audio-visual Entrainment on Parkinson's Disease Tremor. In Neural Engineering (NER), 2013 6th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on (pp. 1562-1565).

Poli, R., Cinel, C., Sepulveda, F., & Stoica, A. (2013). Improving Decision-Making based on Visual perception Via a Collaborative Brain-Computer Interface. In IEEE International Multi-Disciplinary Conference on Cognitive Methods in Situation Awareness and Decision Support (CogSIMA), IEEE (San Diego (CA).

Poli, R., Cinel, C., Matran-Fernandez, A., Sepulveda, F., & Stoica, A. (2013, March). Towards cooperative brain-computer interfaces for space navigation. In Proceedings of the 2013 international conference on Intelligent user interfaces (pp. 149-160). ACM.

Stoica, A., Matran-Fernandez, A., Andreou, D., Poli, R., Cinel, C., Iwashita, Y., & Padgett, C. (2013, May). Multi-brain fusion and applications to intelligence analysis. In SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing (pp. 87560N-87560N). International Society for Optics and Photonics.

Poli, R. , Salvaris, M.A., & Cinel, C. (2012). A genetic programming approach to the evolution of brain–computer interfaces for 2-D mouse–pointer control. Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, 13(3), 377-405.

Salvaris, M.A., Cinel, C., & Poli, R. (2012). Novel Protocols for P300-based brain–computer interfaces. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 20(1), 8-17.

Poli, R., Cinel, C., Citi, L., & Salvaris, M.A. (2011). A genetic programming approach to detecting artifact-generating eye movements from EEG in the absence of electro-oculogram. In Neural Engineering (NER), 2011 5th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on (pp. 416-421). IEEE.

Salvaris, M., Cinel, C., & Poli, R. (2011). Novel sequential protocols for a ERP-based BCI mouse. In Neural Engineering (NER), 2011 5th International IEEE/EMBS Conference (pp. 352-355). IEEE.

Poli, R., Citi, L., Salvaris, M., Cinel, C., & Sepulveda, F. (2010). Eigenbrains: the Free Vibrational Modes of the Brain as a New Representation for EEG. Accepted, 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society August 31 - September 4, 2010 Buenos Aires Sheraton Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Salvaris, M., Cinel, C., Poli, R., Citi, L., & Sepulveda, F. (2010). Exploring Multiple Protocols for a Brain-Computer Interface Mouse. Accepted, 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society August 31 - September 4, 2010 Buenos Aires Sheraton Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Citi, C., Poli, R., and Cinel, C. (2010). Documenting, modelling and exploiting P300 amplitude changes due to variable target delays in Donchin's speller. Journal of Neural Engineering, 7, 056006.

Poli, R., Cinel, C., Citi, L, & Sepulveda, F. (2010). Reaction-time Binning: a Simple Method for Increasing the Resolving Power of ERP Averages. Psychophysiology, 47(3), 467-485.

Cinel, C., Avons, S. E., & Russo, R. (2010). Semantic Activation and Letter Search: Blocking or Suppression? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63 (3), 580-594.

Poli, R., Citi, L., Sepulveda, F., & Cinel, C. (2009) Analogue Evolutionary Brain Computer Interfaces, IEEE Computational Intelligence Magazine, November, 4, 27,31.

Citi, L., Poli, R., Cinel, C. (2009). Exploiting P300 amplitude variations can improve classification accuracy in Donchin’s BCI speller. 4th International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering.

Avons, S. E., Russo, R., Cinel, C., Verolini, V., Glynn, K., McDonald, R., & Cameron, M. (2009). Associative and repetition priming with the repeated masked prime technique: No priming found. Memory & Cognition, 37, 100-114.

Cinel, C., Russo, R., Fox, E., & Boldini, A. (2009). Letter to Editor : Response to Arnetz and coworkers. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 115a-116a.

Cinel, C., Russo, R., Boldini, A., and Fox, E. (2008). Exposure to mobile phone electromagnetic fields and subjective symptoms : A double blind study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70, 345-348.

Citi, L., Poli, R., Sepulveda, F., & Cinel, C. (2008). P300-Based BCI Mouse With Genetically-Optimized Analogue Control. IEEE Transactions On Neural Systems And Rehabilitation Engineering, 16, 51-61.

Cinel, C., Fox, E., Boldini, A., & Russo, R. (2007). No effects of mobile phone emission of human short term memory and attention. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 1113-1125 .

Cinel, C., Boldini, A., Russo, R., & Fox, Elaine (2007). Effects of mobile phone electromagnetic fields on an auditory order threshold task. Bioelectromagnetics, 28 (6), 493-496.

Poli, R., Cinel, C., Citi, L. & Sepulveda, F. (2007). Evolutionary Brain Computer Interfaces. In Proceedings of the European Workshop on Evolutionary Image Analysis and Signal Processing (EvoIASP),LNCS, Vol. 4448, pp. 298-307, Springer Verlag.

Cinel, C., & Humphreys, G. W. (2006). On the relations between implicit and explicit spatial binding. Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience, 6, 127-140.

Russo, R., Fox, E., Cinel, C., Boldini, A. Defeyter, G., Mirshekar, & Mehta, A. (2006). Do acute exposure to mobile phones affect human attention? Bioelectromagnetics, 27 (3), 215-220.

Citi, L., Poli, R., & Cinel, C. (2006). Analogue P300-based BCI pointing device. Proceedings of the 3rd International Brain Computer Interfaces Workshop, pages 92–93.

Cinel, C., & Humphreys, G. W. (2005). Multisensory integration. In Columbus, F. (Ed.), Trends in Experimental Psychology Research, pg. 143-161, Nova Publishers, Inc.

Citi, L., Poli, R., Cinel, C., & Sepulveda, F. (2004). Feature Selection and Classification in Brain Computer Interfaces by a Genetic Algorithm. Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference - GECCO 2004, Seattle.

Cinel, C., Poli, R., & Citi, L. (2004). Possible sources of perceptual errors in P300-based speller paradigm. Biomedizinische Technik. Biomedical Engineering, 49(1), 39-40.

Cinel, C., Humphreys, G. W., & Poli, R. (2002). Cross-modal illusory conjunctions between vision and touch. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 28, 1243-1266.

Humphreys, G. W., Cinel, C., Wolfe, J., Olson, A., & Klempen, N. (2000). Fractionating the binding process: Neuropsychological evidence distinguishing binding of form from binding of surface features. Vision Research, 40, 1569-1596.