We integrate approaches from social neuroscience and experimental psychology in order to address the following research themes:

Social Perception

Our work on social pEMOTIONerception aims to examine how people perceive and interpret social signals displayed by others (e.g. emotional expressions, facial identity, animacy perception, trait judgements), how these abilities vary between us, and how they change as we age. We use a range of techniques including human brain imaging, non-invasive brain stimulation, and neuropsychology to address these questions. We also work closely with groups that have difficulties with social perception (e.g. prosopagnosia and alexithymia) and are part of the Trouble With Faces group (www.troublewithfaces.org). In this context, we are seeking to use our understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to social perception abilities in order to develop potential tools to improve the perception of social signals in individuals in which these abilities are impaired. If you’d be interested in finding out more about our projects or in taking part please contact Michael (m.banissy@gold.ac.uk).

Social Cognition

To develop and maisensorium-testsntain the long-lasting social relationships, people must not only be able to perceive social cues, but also to differentiate their own thoughts and feelings from those of their interaction partners. Our work on social cognition aims to examine the mechanisms that contribute to this process. To do so, we study the neural and psychological mechanisms that contribute to our ability to experience empathy, to distinguish between oneself and another person, and to control representations of the self or other in order to support social interaction. We study these processes throughout the lifespan (from infants through to older adults) and are interested in how inter-individual variability in these skills are related to differences in brain structure and function. We also work closely with a rare group of individuals whom experience tactile sensations on their own body when simply observing touch/pain to another person (mirror-touch sensations), in order to a) understand the mechanisms that contribute to this rare experience and b) use mirror-touch as a model to inform us about mechanisms of interpersonal representation in us all.  If you’d be interested in finding out more about our social cognition projects or in taking part please contact us (m.banissy@gold.ac.uk and / or n.bowling@gold.ac.uk)

Applied Cognition

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In addition to the applied aspects of our social perception and social cognition work (e.g. where we are seeking to develop approaches to improve these skills), we also have research interests in a range of other areas related to the application of cognitive neuroscience to aid performance. These include investigation of sleep, creativity, and emotion regulation. For example, in collaboration with the Gold Age Lab we have been examining the impact of transcranial current stimulation on mood in typical aging, with a view to determining the potential efficacy of transcranial electric stimulation as a treatment tool in late-life depression.  We are also involved in industry collaborations related to the investigation of creativity, social perception, and the application of cognitive neuroscience in the workplace. If you’d be interested in finding out more about these projects or taking part in our research please contact Michael (m.banissy@gold.ac.uk).