Marcus' research focuses on embodied cognition which can be summarised as the contribution of the body and senses to our cognitive processes: in short, the body’s experience has a bearing on our thoughts. The theory of embodied cognition provides an avenue to understanding how we are able to perceive the emotions of other people: through mimicry (copying their expressions, even imperceptibly) and interoception (the ability to sense our inner experience, including the expression on our face). In other words, if we copy another person’s facial expression and can then make sense of what our own face is doing, then we can in theory get an idea of what the other person is feeling.
He is specifically concerned with investigating the changes in interoceptive ability across the lifespan, to understand how and why the ability to correctly identify other people’s facial expressions of emotion declines in older adults. Through close collaboration with the University of the Third Age, he contrasts younger and older adults’ abilities to home in on what aspect of embodied cognition might be at the root of this decline, and how it might be possible to counteract it.
Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship