When neuropsychology and engineering approach come together - an interview with dr Patrycja Naumczyk

She is a neuropsychologist and electronics engineer with a specialisation in multimedia techniques. She is passionate about the human brain and signal processing issues. She is a co-author of several articles in prestigious scientific journals and has also managed a complex research project under the NCN PRELUDIUM 5 grant, which culminated in the dissertation 'Neuronal and cognitive mechanisms of temporal orientation in the elderly. FMRI studies.'. Dr Patrycja Naumczyk, a researcher and lecturer at the Department of General Psychology, Institute of Psychology UG, was interviewed by Karolina Żuk-Wieczorkiewicz.

Karolina Żuk-Wieczorkiewicz: Your work touches upon an important issue of contemporary times: the ageing of societies, and the quality of their lives in this context. You raise the issue of temporal orientation. Could you elaborate a bit on this issue?

dr Patrycja Naumczyk: Temporal orientation refers to the way people perceive themselves in a broader context of time. From the perspective of personality psychology, it can be described as a way in which a person situates him/herself on the continuum of past-present-future. Most often, each of us draws from each of the dimensions: past, present and future. However, people differ in which aspect is more dominant, and also in how it is valued: positively or negatively. For example, the present can be viewed hedonistically, involving taking a great deal of pleasure in life, or the opposite: it can be a 'negative' present, involving a sense of lack of influence over one's own life.

I understand that temporal orientation as such does not determine the quality of life, only additional factors come into play?

Some studies show that there is a specific constellation of particular temporal dimensions that promotes psychological well-being. A person who draws what is positive from the past and the hedonistic part from the present, and who still has a future-oriented attitude, will be characterised by better mental well-being, will have a better mood and fewer psychopathological symptoms. From the perspective of human development, it is interesting to note that temporal orientation changes over the life span depending on environmental factors and also with age. For example, as we move from middle age to old age, we see a shift from a more future-oriented focus to a present-oriented focus, and depending on environmental factors, this focus can be either positive or negative. I was very curious to know what this would look like for older people in Poland, as differences in functioning can be expected with age.

Is it functioning in terms of well-being or more general functioning?

We didn't study wellbeing directly because it is fairly well described in the literature. I was interested in two issues. Firstly: do we have a dominance of the present in the over-60s group, or are these profiles however differentiated. The literature on old age shows that there are very large differences between individual older people, so I wanted to see what trends there are in terms of temporal orientation profiles. I also wondered to what extent temporal orientation understood as a personality trait would translate into cognitive functioning. This is an intensively developed field of research because with the progressive ageing of the population, we are facing an increase in life expectancy. Meanwhile, cognitive functioning is one of the main components of quality of life in old age. For example: so what if I have time, I have a place to live, if I can't remember what I was supposed to do today? I wanted to see to what extent temporal orientation as a personality variable overlaps with cognitive functioning. Investigating such connections is important because we can influence temporal orientation, modify it through training or interventions.

The entire interview on the WNS website: When neuropsychology and engineering approaches merge - an interview with dr Patrycja Naumczyk | Faculty of Social Sciences (ug.edu.pl)


dr Patrycja Naumczyk
Karolina Żuk-Wieczorkiewicz.