My research focusses on embodied cognition, which can be summarised as the contribution of the body and senses to our cognitive processes: in short, our 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.
I am specifically investigating the changes in our 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, I am contrasting 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 that.
- Embodied cognition and emotion
- Differences in emotion recognition ability over the lifespan
- Interventions for improving interoceptive ability
Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship
Three year Graduate Teaching Assistantship at University of Kent
Hermann von Helmholtz Award (awarded for the student with the highest overall mark in MSc Cognitive Psychology)