Dr Bethanie Gouldthorp
BA (Hons), PhD

Lecturer - School of Psychology and Exercise Science

About me

After a dalliance with biomedical science and molecular biology, I realised that I had an unquenched desire to know more about the mind and the brain. Consequently, I went on to complete an undergraduate Honours degree in psychology, followed by a PhD in which I investigated the role of the right cerebral hemisphere in utilising contextual information during language comprehension.

On completion of my PhD in 2010, I took up a fulltime appointment at Murdoch University in the School of Psychology. After 12 months of maternity leave in 2015, I have since resumed a part-time position where I now lecture in and coordinate several undergraduate units including Biological Bases of Behaviour, Principles and Processes of Psychological Interventions, and Abnormal Psychology.

My research interests have centred primarily on the neurobiology of language comprehension, particularly in relation to the use of “higher-level” processes (e.g., embodied cognition) to produce discourse-level meaning. In fact, much of this work is now less about how “language processing” and more about how non-linguistic multi-modal perceptual simulations are created. More recently, while completing specialist training in clinical psychology, I have developed an additional research interest in trauma-focused interventions; particularly around the neurobiology the underlies storage of traumatic memories and the mental simulations that occur later when thinking about past and future events, as well as how trauma-focused interventions alter these processes.

I currently supervise a range of honours and doctoral level research projects spanning these interests, from investigations of higher-level language comprehension in the brain to evaluations of the effectiveness of trauma-focused therapy for clinical populations.

Teaching area

  • PSY251 Biological Bases of Behaviour
  • PSY436/536 Principles and Processes of Psychological Interventions
  • PSY388 Psychology: Abnormal Behaviour

Research areas

I have two distinct areas of research interest. One area relates to language comprehension; specifically, the cognitive and neurobiological processes that underlie higher level representations of meaning in language. Higher level representations refer to the processes involved in drawing inferences and when interpreting ambiguous or non-literal language. It also refers to the multimodal processes involved when one becomes engrossed in a novel and is seemingly transported to a fictional world. Sub-areas of interest within this broad topic area include:

  • Cerebral hemispheric contributions to different levels of language processing, particularly to the role of the right cerebral hemisphere in global, integrative processing
  • The neural correlates of different levels of representation of linguistic and extra-linguistic information (e.g., textbase versus situation model construction).
  • Individual differences in the construction of higher level language representation (e.g., situation modelling ability) and how this relates to differences in visual imagery, reading enjoyment and reading ability.

More recently, I have been pursuing a second area of research interest in the clinical space, relating to the processing of trauma memories. Although seemingly far removed from my other research interests, there are many fascinating ways in which the two areas converge. For example, higher-level language processing is in many ways not about linguistic processing at all; but, rather, about the ways in which we draw on world knowledge gleaned through past experiences, learned associations and perceptual simulations of past and future imagined events. Thus, understanding how language is processed at this level requires an understanding of the cognitive processes involved in long-term memory and the access to rich perceptual information, as well as access to world-knowledge and self-referential processing. Similarly, understanding how traumatic memories are stored and processed – and why they appear to be different to non-traumatic memories – draws on much of the same neurobiological knowledge about how memories are accessed, how this knowledge is used to shape future interpretations, and the way in which multimodal perceptual information is accessed during mental simulation (e.g., during flashbacks and intrusive memories). In this line of research I hope to contribute to the clinical field by developing a strong neurobiological grounding for trauma-focused interventions.

Awards and grants


Dominguez, S., Lee, C., Drummond, P. & Gouldthorp, B. (2018-2019). The effect of individual Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) sessions on psychological symptom change for people with depression and/or anxiety receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). EMDR Association of Australia. $15,000.

Gouldthorp, B. & Small, S.L. (2012-2015). Distinguished Collaborator Award. Murdoch University. $30,000.

Gouldthorp, B. & Coney, C. (2011). Murdoch University “Near Miss” Funding Scheme. Murdoch University. $20,000.


Nominated for the Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award, 2010.

Professional and community service

University and School roles

Past roles:

Postgraduate Research Director – Health Sciences

Research Degrees and Scholarships Committee Member

Teaching and Learning Forum Committee Member

School of Psychology and Exercise Science Research Committee Member

Ad Hoc Reviewer

Various journals e.g., Brain and Behaviour, Brain and Language, Cerebral Cortex, Laterality

Doctoral and masters supervisions

Sarah Dominguez (PhD, current). Thesis topic: Impact of childhood trauma: Treatment efficacy and critical mechanisms

Theodore Teow (PhD, current). Thesis topic: An examination of the shared neural resources of language and music.

Raileen Merlino (DPsych, completed 2017). Thesis title: Cognitive functioning and self-reported self-efficacy in prisoners with a history of substance dependence.

Lia Katsipis (PhD, completed 2016). Thesis title: Situation models and children’s reading comprehension: What role does visual imagery play?

Cath Price (PhD, completed 2015). Thesis topic: Increasing physical activity levels of primary school-aged children and its effects on physical health and psychological well-being: Evaluations of a home-based and a school-based behavioural self-management intervention.

Khristin Highet (DPsych, completed 2015). Thesis topic: The relationship between Schizophrenia and cannabis use on executive function, and its functional outcome correlates.

Cherie Chan (DPsych, completed 2014). Thesis topic: The role of iconic gesture on word learning and expression in a developmentally delayed population.

Roslyn Sadler (MAppPsych, completed 2011). Thesis topic: Examining the impact of work habits, commitments and thoughts on sleep patterns, stimulant consumption and psychological well-being of varying chronotypes.




  • Gouldthorp, B., Katsipis, L., Mueller, C., (2017), An Investigation of the Role of Sequencing Ability in Childrens Reading Comprehension, Reading Research Quarterly, 53, 1, pages -.
  • Landes, J., Reid, C., Ros, T., Enriquez-Geppert, S., Bulsara, M., Brini, S., Gouldthorp, B., Anderson, M., (2017), EEG neurofeedback for executive functions in children with neurodevelopmental challenges, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2017, 12, .
  • Mulcahy, M., Gouldthorp, B., (2016), Positioning the reader: the effect of narrative point-of-view and familiarity of experience on situation model construction, Language and Cognition, 8, 1, pages 96 - 123.
  • Gouldthorp, B., (2015), Hemispheric differences in the processing of contextual information during language comprehension, Laterality: asymmetries of body, brain and cognition, 20, 3, pages 348 - 370.
  • Curtis, G., Gouldthorp, B., Thomas, E., O'Brien, G., Correia, H., (2013), Online academic-integrity mastery training may improve students' awareness of, and attitudes toward, plagiarism, Psychology Learning and Teaching, 12, 3, pages 282 - 289.
  • Gouldthorp, B., Coney, J., (2011), Integration and coarse coding: Right hemisphere processing of message-level contextual information, Laterality: asymmetries of body, brain and cognition, 16, 1, pages 1 - 23.
  • Gouldthorp, B., Coney, J., (2009), The Sensitivity of the Right Hemisphere to Contextual Information in Sentences., Brain and Language, 110, 2, pages 95 - 100.
  • Gouldthorp, B., Coney, J., (2009), Message-level processing of contextual information in the right cerebral hemisphere., Neuropsychologia, 47, , pages 473 - 480.

Chan, C., Gouldthorp, B., & Leach., D. (under review). The effects of gestures and pictures on word acquisition and use in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Landes, J.K., Reid, C.L., Arns, M., Badcock, N.A., Ros, T., Enriquez-Geppert, S., Bulsara, M.K., Brini, S., Rabipour, S., Mason, M., Birbaumer, N., Gouldthorp, B., & Anderson, M. (in press).  EEG neurofeedback for executive functions in children with neurodevelopmental challenges [Protocol]. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Accepted August 2017.

Gouldthorp, B., Katsipis, L. & Mueller, C. (In press). An investigation of the role of sequencing ability in children’s reading comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly. In press: Accepted February 2017.

  • Bernstein, D.A., Pooley, J.A., Cohen, L., Gouldthorp, B., Provost, S., & Cranney, J. (2017). Psychology: Australian and New Zealand 2nd edition. Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia
  • Berstein, D.A., Pooley, J.A., Cohen, L., Gouldthorp, B., Provost, S., Cranney, J., Penner, L.A., Clarke-Stewart, A., & Roy, E. (2013). Psychology: An International Discipline in Context. Australian and New Zealand edition. Melbourne: Cengage Learning Australia *Joint Winner of the APA Educational Publishing Awards 2014*


  • Teow, T., Gouldthorp, B., Roeber, U., & Prince, J. (2017, October). An EEG investigation into shared neural circuitry of language and music. Oral presentation at the Australian Cognitive Neuroscience Society (ACNS) Conference, Adelaide, Australia.
  • Male, A., & Gouldthorp, B. (2017, August). A right cerebral hemisphere advantage in integrating perceptual information during language comprehension. Poster presentation at the International Conference for Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON), Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • Yang, J., Gouldthorp, B., Khadilkar, M., Zevin, J., & Small, S. (2013, June). Building fictional worlds: Information updating during fairytale comprehension. Poster presentation at the Organization of Human Brain Mapping Conference (OHBM2013), Seattle, USA.
  • Katsipis, L., Gouldthorp, B., Treleaven-Hassard, S., & Varan, D. (2012, April). Visual imagery and reading enjoyment: An investigation of the activation of implicit information in situation models. Poster presentation given at the 39th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference, Sydney, New South Wales.
  • Curtis, G., Gouldthorp, B., Thomas, E., & O’Brien, G. (2011, September). An online competency based referencing training and plagiarism awareness task. Oral presentation given at the 5th Asia Pacific Conference on Educational Integrity, University of Western Australia, Australia.
  • Gouldthorp, B. (2011, August). The role of the right cerebral hemisphere in language comprehension. Oral presentation given at the 6th Australian Cognitive Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Forum, Macquarie University, Australia.
  • Gouldthorp, B. (2008, April). Message-level processing of contextual information in the right cerebral hemisphere. Oral presentation given at the 35th Australasian Experimental Psychology Conference, Fremantle, Western Australia.