Ramisa Maliat Ahmed
The use of non-invasive brain stimulation to understand social perception
Research Description: My research involves exploring how we can use non-invasive brain stimulation, primarily transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to understand social perception. I will be focusing on facial emotion perception and eye gaze perception.
Since covid, the way we interact and communicate is changing, as a society we have spent a lot of time online in Zoom meetings or on a Teams call, the way we communicate has been centred around the face and there is still so much unknown about the processes underlying these daily talks.
I hope to aid in our understanding of these processes but at the same time see how we can utilise techniques like TMS for more than the standard "temporary lesion" method it has become known for.
Mahnoosh's research examines the various personality and demographic factors that may affect reactions to the pandemic.
My study aims to examine various personality and demographic factors that may affect reactions to the pandemic, including any protective factors that may make some people cope better with the pandemic restrictions. Furthermore, I will expand my research by conducting a mindfulness intervention to investigate these links in more depth.
Doctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience.
I'm taking part in the Neurolive project. Among a plurality of subjects, we study the difference between experiencing living arts live and through media. My research concentrate on the collective gaze using eye tracker data.
Tudor's research explores the origins of rhythmic capacity by investigating the dynamics of empathy and cognitive control in small-scale societies dances from Australasia to Africa and South America.
With qualifications in both the humanities and the sciences, Tudor Balinisteanu explores the origins of rhythmic capacity by researching the dynamics of empathy and cognitive control in small-scale societies dances from Australasia to Africa and South America.
This research examines dance sequences of similar socio-emotional significance in ten small-scale societies to test the hypothesis that rhythm originates in mutual entrainment as opposed to originating in external entrainment to a musical beat. The small scale-societies are Bohinemo, Fore, and Tobrianders (Papua New Guinea), Sadong (Borneo), Dani (Indonesia), Mwani (Mozambique), Himba (Namibia), Dioula (Burkina Faso), Serer-Safen (Senegal) and Shuar (Amazonian Ecuador).
The central argument is that dance evolved from mutual entrainment and that dance to external rhythm evolved sometime later to carry forward in one's life-course the benefits of mutual entrainment, derived from the experience of closeness and empathy.
Doctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience with research interests in Flow, Hot Hand, Emotion and Music Cognition.
Existing theories of flow have taken an associative rather than a causal theoretical approach. In other words, these theories attempt to describe what occurs at a neurocognitive level during flow but not how and why flow arises. The main purpose of my research is to develop a causal theory of flow, centred around the role of internal and sensory feedback.
I focus on a particular phenomenon in basketball known as the ‘hot-hand’, where the probability of shooting success is thought to increase after a streak of successful shot attempts. The hot hand lends itself particularly well to a causal investigation of flow because it is a sequential phenomenon with measurable behavioural outcomes that develop over time.
Using mobile EEG and physiological measures of emotion, I plan on studying how motor accuracy, flow, and arousal evolve over time during basketball shooting tasks. Finally, I intend to investigate whether the causal mechanisms underlying flow in basketball are transferable to music listening, with the objective of designing effective music interventions for flow induction.
Researcher of early development with a focus on music, language and motor development during infancy
Our research looks at the links between language, cognition, movement and musical activity early in life. Infants make great leaps in all of these skills between 6-18 months of age, and our work aims to capture how parent-child interaction facilitates these developments.
Research Focus: Using a mindfulness smartphone app to improve parent's stress and children's mental health.
Mindfulness has been associated with improved outcomes in managing stress and improving mental health in different areas, but little research has been conducted with parents specifically. As such, I will be conducting a mixed methods case series to assess the feasibility and acceptability of delivering a mindfulness intervention via an app (Headspace) to parents of young children.
Following this, I will be conducting a pilot randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of using Headspace on parents' emotional regulation and the resulting impacts on their parenting style and their children's mental health and wellbeing.
Psychology researcher exploring the role of interpersonal relationships in cyberbullying involvement.
Hannah’s research topic centres around the role of interpersonal relationships on bullying involvement. This delves into how siblings may impact bullying involvement, with a focus on between-sibling bullying; as well as the experiences of foster children in bullying at school and within the foster home.
Research focus: Building trust and rapport in remote investigative interviews
I am interested in the relationship between rapport and trust as well as the contextual impact of remote interviews on such constructs. I am particularly interested in understanding what contributes to the benefits of building rapport: the behaviours, the feeling of rapport, or both.
I intend to review current literature to develop and validate measures of trust and rapport before comparing different remote interview contexts according to accuracy, rapport, trust, and different levels of self-disclosure.
Ondine Cami Delaye
My PhD research focuses on the neurophenomenology of nitrous oxide
Neurocognitive and linguistic correlates of poetic creativity
Poetry, being one of the most creative uses of language, ignites one’s creative thought process and hence fosters literary creativity. But how do linguistic parameters of a poem help humans evaluate poetic creativity?
Does the evaluation depend on literary expertise and can it be predicted mechanistically? How does the human brain respond to creative poems and what are the neural correlates of the evaluation of poetic creativity?
I would be aiming at these central questions by adopting a tripartite approach integrating behavioural, electrophysiological and computational techniques. The project would further investigate the role of interoceptive processes during the creative evaluation of poems.
Research Focus: Early Interventions to Mental Health using Video Games
My research focuses on using video games to act as a first stage early intervention to those at risk of developing mental health problems. It involves the investigating and understanding the positive effect video games can have and uncovering the themes that are present in specific games, that could help someone who might not have access to mental health solutions. The goal of the research is to have stickers on the back of game boxes that indicate if they can help with mental health symptoms.
Oliver researches Flow states, specialising in Flow's domain-specificity, temporality, and experimental methodology.
Flow is a cognitive state characterised by effortless engagement in challenging, skill-demanding scenarios. This project critically questions whether Flow states can be experimentally induced and controlled by investigating Flow’s temporal and potentially domain-specific brain and body signatures.
Visual artists, musicians, and video gamers frequently report Flow experiences. Therefore, these populations will have their Flow experiences captured in their natural environment using real-time, mobile-Electroencephalogram (EEG) and physiological measures. The resultant data will be analyzed using machine learning to identify consistent and variable markers of Flow processes, thereby informing whether experimental Flow-induction methods are feasible.
Doctoral Researcher and Associate Lecturer in Psychology with a research focus on the sense of agency in human-computer interaction.
Haptic feedback and the sense of agency in human-computer interaction.
My research focuses on the experience of intentions, actions and effects when interacting with technology that utilises haptics. More specifically, my project is investigating the role of haptic feedback on the sense of agency.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, I am interested in utilising robust measures from cognitive neuroscience to examine the effects of manipulating sensory feedback related to our actions and their effects. With this, I aim to further our understanding of the self, and in turn apply this to the design of haptic technology.
Research Focus: Awareness of verbal and non-verbal communication skills in patients with acquired brain injuries and children with atypical development.
My research project originates and extends within the investigation of awareness of verbal and non-verbal communication skills, specifically focusing on atypical development in childhood, and pathology in adulthood.
Developing awareness of your own skills to interact in the social context is fundamental to everyday life. However, the domain of awareness of social and linguistic skills in childhood has not yet been investigated thoroughly. The first part of my project aims to fill this gap by investigating the development of awareness of communication skills in a cohort of children with typical and atypical development.
During lifespan, distortions of awareness have been reported after brain injuries, a disorder known as anosognosia. Even if the term anosognosia has been applied originally to motor impairments, researchers recently suggested that it could be applied also to other pathological conditions, e.g., specific language impairments and Theory of Mind deficits. The second part of my research aims to expand this topic, by evaluating awareness of verbal and non-verbal communication skills in aphasic patients with acquired brain injuries.
Research focus: Ethnic differences in physical activity behaviour change and inter-group perception in relation to physical activity.
My PhD focuses on ethnic differences in physical activity behaviour change, health and well-being outcomes, inter-group perception in relation to physical activity and perceived barriers to physical activity, specifically for members of the Black and Minority Ethnic community. My research investigates ethnic differences in motivation to change physical activity behaviour and explores some of the reasons for non-participation in physical activity.
I investigate how strategies can improve the physical health outcomes of Black and Minority Ethnic people by encouraging an increase in physical activity. As a qualified movement and drama-therapist I also have an interdisciplinary interest and collaborate on practice based research projects. These partnerships explore psychological relationships to movement and provide additional insights into physical activity choices which augment my research.
I hope that my findings will contribute to the provision of appropriate and effective physical activity interventions, particularly for the Black and Minority Ethnic community who are disproportionately affected with conditions associated with inactivity.
Research focus: If psychopaths are likely to commit suicide or self-harm.
I am studying the likelihood of individuals diagnosed with psychopathy experiencing suicidal thoughts or self harm behaviours. My research is addressing a comprehensive review of the different factors that could influence people experiencing psychopathic traits and which cause them to commit acts of self-harm.
My study is looking at both a prison and free sample in order to determine if incarceration is a deterrent for psychopaths. Given the fact that in the general population, individuals are more likely to commit suicide and self harm in prison, I am interested in assessing whether the same rule applies to psychopathy.
Psychology researcher investigating the content, neural correlates, and functions of visual mental imagery during music listening.
My research focuses on investigating the content, neural correlates, and functions of visual mental imagery during music listening using behavioural and objective techniques.
Visual mental imagery involves forming images in the mind/mind's eye without a physical reference. It is a common experience while listening to various types of music, and has proposed connections with emotional response to music, as well as suggested to encompass rich and vivid subject matter (from personal memories to detailed storytelling).
My research utilises behavioural techniques, experience sampling, and EEG to understand music-induced visual imagery from three main avenues:1) Content, by creating a thematic framework of prevalent visual imagery subject matter to music, contributing musical features, and content consistency across time;2) Neural Correlates, understanding the relationship between the occipital brain area and subjective reports of visual imagery occurance and intentionality;and finally 3) Functions, by exploring the emotional engagement of aphantasics (those who experience little or no visual imagery) to music and assessing the potential of visual imagery as a stress reduction technique during music listening.
Doctoral Researcher and Associate Lecturer in Psychology
I am a music psychology researcher. My research largely focusses on the effect of music training on cognition. There is a considerable amount of research supporting the idea that music training can improve working memory, attention, and other cognitive skills. Currently, I am looking at how we organise and prioritise musical information in working memory. I am considering both music reading and listening to develop and test a novel paradigm for investigating music working memory.
Researcher in Psychology of Art and Neuroaesthetics
I design experimental interventions in real exhibition spaces to study the factors that lead to a deepened art viewing experience. In doing so, my research aims to build an optimized model of live art viewing in the gallery, taking into account individual differences, impacts on well-being, and other institution-specific needs. Specifically, I investigate the role that mindful breathing and its effects on physiological arousal, social interaction, and visual literacy play in mood repair and level of aesthetic engagement when viewing artworks.
All research is conducted within a special exhibition room at the Manchester Art Gallery with an opportunistic sample of real museum visitors. We work closely with the curatorial and education team at the gallery to both design and integrate our studies into the museum’s programming agenda.
Music preference and in-group/out-group attitudes
My current research focuses on how music preference might illustrate certain traits about an individual’s background or beliefs.
This includes understanding how people feel about others who either share or don’t share their music preference, especially in the context of another potential similar or different variables, e.g., political ideology.
My overall goal is to understand what is conveyed via music preference and how groups of seemingly different people can become more united when given the opportunity to make or listen to music they enjoy together.
Research focus: The effects of background music on sustained attention
In my research, I am interested in exploring the effects of background music on sustained attention and fluctuations of attentional state (i.e., mind-wandering, task-focus, external-distraction) as a function of task-difficulty, and in examining the role of physiological arousal in mediating these effects.
In addition to collecting subjective reports of attention state and behavioural measures of performance, I am collecting pupillometric data to provide an online measure of the impact of background music on sustained attention, and to improve our understanding of the subtle relationship between music and arousal.
Research Focus: The trade-off in creativity: flexibility and efficiency during creative thinking
During my Ph.D, I aim to build a computational model of common verbal creativity tasks (e.g. the alternative uses task), with elements that reflect these lower-level processes. I also aim to complete empirical research to understand the roles of WM updating and task-switching in creative thought. Ultimately, “creativity” covers a huge range of types of cognition, but there is a common theme related to flexibility. I hope to gain a more concrete understanding of how flexible, creative cognition is achieved.
I am very interested in how creative thought arises from the interactions of more fundamental processes such as attention, working memory, association-making, and cognitive control, and how these processes interact differently in different contexts and individuals.
Paddy uses modern psychometrics to research how social connections are formed, and the impact on mental well being.
Rather than just number of friends or amount of social contact, there is mounting evidence to suggest that it is the depth of our social connections to family, friends and partners that our mental health is closely tied to.
Building bonds appears to be important; but at any stage of any relationship there are emotional barriers that make it harder to deepen it. The traits and habits that can help people more easily overcome those barriers are therefore an important target for research.
Using population-wide datasets and new methodologies like True Correlations, his PhD will focus on understanding the types of loneliness that matter most, and the behaviours that might help to prevent it.
Chloe is a music psychology researcher investigating the development of musical skills in childhood.
Chloe investigates the development of musical skills in childhood, in particular focusing on emotional and social components of musical ability. She is currently developing the 'Young-Gold Music Tests', a measurement battery which aims to overcome issues with more traditional musical ability tests using novel test designs.
Her previous research has involved test development of behavioural measures to assess emotion perception, specifically focused on the ability to decode emotional intentions from music performances.
Research focus: Instrumental deception in female subclinical psychopaths in social and sexual contexts.
My research will be looking into how subclinical female psychopaths (compared against male psychopaths and female non-psychopaths) use deception in social and sexual contexts. It will explore the use of impression management and superficial charm as methods to manipulate situations, leading to a desired outcome for the female psychopath.
Doctoral Researcher and Associate Lecturer in Psychology, exploring how we think about the future.
The focus of my PhD is how we think about the future; specifically how we think about novel personal events that we have not experienced before. To explore this I have interviewed soon to be first time mother's about how they imagine childbirth and early parenthood and how this relates to the pregnancy related anxiety they may be experiencing. This is of particular importance as anxiety during pregnancy is on the increase. The findings from the interviews have informed the development of an intervention that helps soon to be first time mothers imagine the future in a way that reduces their anxiety.
PhD Student and Associate Lecturer
Doctoral researcher in psychology, using ecologically valid methods and virtual reality to investigate the relationship between music and episodic & autobiographical memory.
My research takes an ecologically valid approach to understanding the nature of the relationship between music and episodic & autobiographical memory. Traditional measures of episodic memory have neglected to account for an individual’s sense of presence, first-person perspective, and spatiotemporal awareness of their surroundings. Virtual reality is therefore a useful tool to study how music influences an individual’s ability to remember highly realistic environments, and how those unique memories persist.
Using VR, music information retrieval (MIR), and EEG, my research aims to explores the nature of this relationship with attention to several factors, including how musico-acoustic features may differentially impact encoding, via which mechanisms music may contribute to memory retrieval, and how persistent music-evoked autobiographical memories are characterised.
Researcher in Brain-Computer Interface.
My research investigates the neurophysiological predictors of non-invasive BCI performance. I am interested in interoception, cognitive neuroscience, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and consciousness.
Haeeun Lee (Hennie)
Researcher in Social Neuroaesthetics and Performing Arts
In my PhD, I would like to propose Social Neuroaesthetics as a new way of investigating the brain correlates of aesthetic appreciation.
By studying the collective experience of people attending to performing arts, I will explore moments when the audience's brain activities synchronise with one another, and how such phenomena may be related to aesthetic pleasure, social bonding, and other levels of physiological and motor synchrony.
- Dr Guido Orgs (Psychology)
- Dr Jamie A Ward (Computing)
Research focus: The underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms of perceptual metacognition.
To effectively interact with the environment we must estimate the reliability or precision of what we can perceive. Online assessment of confidence in our senses depends on metacognitive monitoring mechanisms in the brain which are thought to be influenced by contextual information. While many scientists assume we do generate these kinds of ‘beliefs about precision’, it remains unclear whether this is the case and how confidence in our senses is encoded in the brain.
My research will use a multi-method approach to characterise the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underpin meta-level beliefs about the reliability of our senses and will investigate how these mechanisms change as we age.
Investigating the neural and behavioural basis of curiosity
Curiosity, our desire to know, is vital to learning and life satisfaction. Currently, some existing research argues that curiosity can result in a pleasurable and rewarding feeling after we learn something new and resolve an 'information gap' in our knowledge. This drive to fill information gaps can feel satisfying as we experience novel situations and encounter uncertain environments.
Despite curiosity's importance to learning, interestingly, there is a lot about curiosity which is unknown - for example, how do we express curiosity differently? If curiosity is rewarding, what happens when abstract rewards such as information are pitched against robust rewards, such as money? My research is interested in the pleasure of knowing, that great feeling of ease and enjoyment when we satisfy our curiosity about topics we're interested in. I'll be researching this in our behaviour and using neuroscientific methods, such as EEG, to better understand what brain networks are involved in the important activity of being curious.
Claudia's research explores face recognition: acquired and developmental prosopagnosia.
My research focuses on two main cognitive functions, face recognition and mental imagery. Specifically, I am investigating the relationship between prosopagnosia and aphantasia, which are respectively the inability of recognising faces and of visualising in the mind's eye.
Previous research has provided self-report evidence on the potential link between the two conditions; my aim is to add to this knowledge by providing more objective measures of face recognition performance.
Additionally, my aim is to investigate not only those cases in which the two conditions coexist, but also those rarer double dissociation cases, such as people with aphantasia but exceptional face recognition abilities. My research involves both developmental and acquired cases.
The associations between sleep variables and ostensibly paranormal experiences and paranormal beliefs.
Night-time can be a frightening experience for some. Indeed, ostensibly paranormal experiences, such as having seen a ghost or a ghoul are often reported during the night. Interestingly, alternative explanations for these experiences have been provided by considering different aspects of sleep, which can be reassuring to those reporting these experiences.
My PhD is focused on the associations between different sleep variables (e.g., exploding head syndrome, sleep paralysis, REM sleep behaviour disorders) and ostensibly paranormal experiences/beliefs (near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, belief in the soul after death).
PhD Student and Associate Lecturer
Doctoral researcher in individual differences and the phenomenology of sleep paralysis.
I am designing a sleep paralysis questionnaire to further explore whether there are distinct types of sleep paralysis experiences. This questionnaire will be used to see if individual differences are related to the type of sleep paralysis a person experiences.
Research focus: Using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques and EEG to examine the neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory processes.
I use non-invasive brain stimulation techniques and EEG to examine the neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory processes in the ageing population. I aim to clarify the mechanisms underlying the impoverished learning performance as well as the high variability within the ageing population.
Part of my research specifically examines the role of dopamine in learning, particularly in terms of the predictability of inter-subject variability in reinforcement learning using reward. I also investigate the neural predictors, such as neural oscillations of older adults’ episodic memory and probabilistic and deterministic learning.
Doctoral Researcher and Associate Lecturer in Psychology investigating how beliefs about reward probability modulate motor vigour in adults, ageing and patients with Parkinson's Disease.
A behavioural and neurophysiological approach to investigate how beliefs about reward probability modulate motor vigour in adults, aging and patients with Parkinson's Disease.
Motor improvements have been consistently associated with reward magnitude in deterministic contexts. Yet whether individual inferences on reward probability influence motor vigour dynamically remains undetermined.
In my PhD I am combining behavioural, neuroimaging and computational approaches to investigate how updating beliefs about volatile action-reward contingencies influences motor behaviour in adults, aging and patients with Parkinson's Disease.
Doctoral researcher in psychology with a research focus on behavioural recognition in investigative interviewing.
My research focuses on a person's ability to accurately identify the behaviour of another, and how this affects communication, cooperation, and information elicitation in an investigative interviewing context. I am especially interested in factors that contribute to this accuracy, and whether this is a trainable skill.
After systematically reviewing the present literature, I will experimentally test this ability and start to develop and test training materials that could be applied in a real-world setting.
Francesca Torno Jimenez
Francesca's research focus is interoceptive sensitivity and its relationship with the ability to switch modes of thought.
Researching interoceptive sensitivity – the awareness and accuracy one possesses about their own internal bodily processes – and its relationship with the ability to switch modes of thought. Mode-switching may be briefly described as the ability to shift from analytic thinking to associative thinking. I study these in the context of creative performance. My aim is to combine methods both behavioural (Thinking and Bodily Awareness Tasks, Cardiac afferent activity) and neural (EEG, state dependent TMS) to study these relationships.
Research Focus: Vicarious Touch
Touch plays a central role in our relationships and individual well-being. However, it remains an under-investigated topic compared to our other senses. My research focuses on touch attitudes and experiences in everyday life, treatment settings, and dance. Specifically, I study individuals' experiences and bodily responses during physical and observed interpersonal touch.
With my research, I hope to increase our understanding of how our individual characteristics shape our attitudes to touch in a given setting. The primary individual differences that I investigate are demographics, personality traits, and attachment style.
Finally, I am interested in how touch can benefit one's life (e.g., improving mental well-being and feelings of loneliness). By investigating the latter, I aim to design interventions to alleviate the negative consequences of touch absence in periods lacking interpersonal touch, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Amy van Langeraad
Doctoral researcher in psychology exploring what is most effective in missing person appeals.
My research focus is on 'what works' in missing person appeals, with a specific focus on various types of content and their influence on key cognitive processes such as attention and behavioural change for a more successful outcome. The ultimate goal of my PhD is to create a more psychologically informed and effective missing person appeals format that could be implemented by a variety of organisations such as charities, law enforcement, and families.