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The Cognition and Communication Research Centre (CoCo) evolved from a network of staff at Northumbria University with interests in cognition and applied cognitive psychology that formed the basis of a large-scale funding bid to set up a designated research centre. The influx of successful Strategic Research Infrastructure Funding allowed a wing of the building where the Department of Psychology is housed to be rebuilt and fitted with bespoke facilities. In parallel with this, the university appointed Professor Kenny Coventry as inaugural director of the centre, together with an influx of new staff who hold appointments within the Department of Psychology.

CoCo was officially opened in November 2007 by the (then) Vice Chancellor of Northumbria University, Professor Kel Fidler, and Professor Lawrence Barsalou from Emory University, Atlanta, USA, gave the keynote opening address.