Research & Institution
Department of Cognitive Science
Professor Anina Rich is Director of the Perception in Action Research Centre (PARC) and heads the Synaesthesia@Macquarie research group. Her research has two main themes, both related to the way the human brain selects, integrates, and responds to incoming information to allow us to perceive and interact with our complex environment. First, her work on attention examines the way the brain maintains the balance between voluntary deployments of attention towards a goal, and the involuntary shifts of attention caused by salient events in the environment. She uses brain imaging, brain stimulation, and behavioural methods to explore the way the brain achieves this control. Second, she studies synaesthesia, an unusual condition in which stimulation in one sensory modality generates an additional experience. For example, sounds (including speech) might evoke colours, scents might have textures, or, most commonly, words, letters and numbers have vivid and highly consistent experiences of colour. Synaethesia provides an unusual window into perception – a unique avenue for exploring the way information is integrated both within vision, and across the senses. She is Australia’s leading expert on synaesthesia, with publications on the topic in high profile journals including Nature and Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Anina completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and then was awarded a prestigious National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)/Menzies Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to work at Harvard Medical School (USA). She then returned to Australia to take up a research-intensive continuing position at Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia). She has had major research funding from both the NHMRC and the Australian Research Council. Anina’s work has received considerable media attention, and she has won research awards, including the 2010 ‘Young Tall Poppy’ award for Science & Science Communication from the Australian Institute of Policy & Science and the 2013 Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research from the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. She was President of the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society in 2016 and was elected to the GYA Executive Committee for 2018/2019 and again for 2019/2020. Anina is passionate about research integrity, science communication, social justice and equality.