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 where I now lecture in and coordinate the third year psychophysiology/cognitive neuroscience unit (PSY351 Biological Bases of Behaviour). My teaching goal is to instil in students the same sense of wonder and awe that I felt (and continue to feel!) when learning about the marvellous piece of machinery that is the human brain.

My research interests centre primarily on the neurobiology of language comprehension, particularly in relation to the use of “higher-level” processes (e.g., embodied cognition, inferencing) to produce discourse-level meaning. My recent work has been focusing on situation model construction (e.g., how spatial and temporal information is updated; how implicit perceptual information provides contextual information not otherwise provided in a textbase representation).

Tangentially, I am also interested in a number of applied areas in cognitive psychology, such as how individual differences in various cognitive skills (e.g., working memory, visual imagery ability) relate to reading ability and engagement. In late 2013 I joined the team at the Project KIDS Cognitive Neurodevelopmental Research Program, where we have been investigating some of these individual differences in both typically developing children and in special populations.

Teaching area

  • PSY351 Biological Bases of Behaviour
  • PSY141 Introduction to Psychological Science

Research areas

My primary research interest relates to language comprehension; specifically, the cognitive processes that underlie higher level representations of meaning in language. Branching out from this central interest are a number of diverse areas that I am currently pursuing. These include:

  •  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.
  • Reading and language acquisition interventions, based on theories of embodied cognition, for academically at-risk groups (e.g., lower SES and Indigenous Australian students) and developmentally delayed groups.

Although tangential to my primary research interest, I am also currently involved in several fascinating projects investigating the effects of substance use on cognitive functioning.

Awards and grants


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

Postgraduate Research Director – Psychology, Nursing/Midwifery, and Chiropractic/Sports Science

Research Degrees and Scholarships Committee Member

Teaching and Learning Forum Committee Member

Ad Hoc Reviewer

Various journals e.g., Brain and Behaviour, Brain and Language

Doctoral and masters supervisions

PhD/Doctorate Candidates

Jasmin Landes (co-supervisor, current). Thesis topic: TBC

Theodore Teow (principal supervisor, current). Thesis topic: What is the role of auditory processing in Specific Language Impairment?

Lia Katsipis (principal supervisor, current). Thesis topic: Visual imagery during reading comprehension: Individual differences in situation model construction. 

Khristin Highet (principal supervisor, current). Thesis topic: The relationship between Schizophrenia and cannabis use on executive function, and its functional outcome correlates.

Cath Price (co-supervisor, current). 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.

Raileen Merlino (co-supervisor, current). Thesis topic: The relationship between executive functioning, motivation and treatment outcome in offenders who have been drug dependent.

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

Master of Applied Psychology

Roslyn Sadler (co-supervisor, 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.

Honours in Psychology

Rebecca Cooper (current)

Natalie Male (current)

Cara Mueller (current)

Kim Hewett (current)

Theodore Teow (completed 2013, awarded First Class, received Australian Psychological Society Prize)

Natalie Rechichi (completed 2012, awarded First Class)

Evan Morris (completed 2012, awarded First Class)

Melissa Mulcahy (completed 2012, awarded First Class)

Lia Katsipis (completed 2011, awarded First Class, received Australian Psychological Society Prize)

Rebecca Iannello (completed 2011, awarded First Class)

Naomi Terpsis (completed 2010, awarded First Class)

Sook Fern Mok (completed 2010, awarded First Class)

Katarzyna Rogozinski (completed 2010, awarded First Class)

Jenine Wenn (completed 2010, awarded First Class)



  • 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.
  • Gouldthorp, B. (in press). Hemispheric differences in the processing of contextual information during language comprehension. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition. Accepted October 2014.
  • Mulcahy, M. & Gouldthorp, B. (in press). Positioning the reader: The effect of narrative  point-of-view and familiarity of experience on situation model construction. Language and Cognition. Accepted October 2014.


  • 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*


  • 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.