根据我系与伦敦国王学院（King's College London）达成的交流协议，2018-2019学年暑期拟选拔1-2名本科生赴该校心理学院进行科研实习，该项活动计入第四课堂学分（2学分）。
Lab and the PI
The Georgescu Lab investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms that support our ability to coordinate with other people during social interactions. We are specifically interested in the perception and production of nonverbal behaviour in both typically developed and autistic populations. Our research uses a variety of experimental methods like virtual reality, eye-tracking, motion-capture and neuroimaging (i.e., functional magnetic resonance imaging and functional near-infrared spectroscopy).
Dr. Alexandra Georgescu (PI) joined King’s College London in 2018 as a Lecturer in Psychology. She obtained her PhD in Psychology at the University of Cologne, Germany, after completing a Diploma in Psychology at the same university. Before joining King´s, she was a Marie Skłodowska Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London from 2016 to 2018.
We are interested in understanding the social difficulties of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a developmental disorder manifesting in early communication impairments as well as repetitive and rigid patterns of interest and behaviour. People tend to perceive individuals with ASD less favourably than typically developing individuals (e.g. less intelligent, more awkward). This leads to diminished intentions to pursue social interactions with them (Sasson et al., 2017). Interestingly, however, a recent study from our lab revealed that when individuals with ASD interact with another individual with ASD, they are rated more favourably compared to when they interact with a typically developing individual (Khoo et al., in prep). This suggests that the behaviour of an interaction partner can play an important role in the way a person is perceived. Other work from our lab has quantified the amount of coordination between the movements of two interacting people. We showed that the diagnostic condition of a person (autistic or typical) modulates how much coordination two people can achieve (Georgescu et al., in prep). Therefore, it is possible that the amount of interpersonal coordination in a pair of interacting people can modulate person perception and impression formation. In order to investigate this further, we plan two investigations:
Project 1: First, we will use a novel computer vision tool (VNect) to measure nonverbal behaviour in individuals with ASD during social interactions (videos of conversations are already available – no data collection needed). Once 3D parameters are extracted from both people in a pair, we will compute the interpersonal coordination between them. This seeks to replicate our previous findings by using a novel computer vision tool instead of the rough pixel movement measure we initially used. (Khoo et al., in prep)
Project 2: Second, we will design an eye-tracking study (involves data collection on an Eyelink 1000). This seeks to replicate the impression formation findings (Khoo et al., in prep). Additionally, it will help us understand the gaze patterns of observers when making judgements about people involved in social interactions. It will also allow us to understand how these gaze patterns and impression judgements relate to the interpersonal movement coordination parameters of a pair (project 1).
The results of the proposed projects will be highly relevant for understanding the nature of social interaction difficulties in ASD. If the impression people have of individuals with ASD are modulated by interpersonal dis-coordination, this will impact the current view that autism is solely an individual problem.
Intern Job Description
Up to two interns will be involved in data collection for the eye-tracking study and analysis of the data. They can additionally contribute to a host of other research activities, depending on their interest: literature review, development/editing of video stimuli, programming of a novel experimental paradigm, 3D motion coordinate analyses and interpersonal coordination quantification.
Students with outstanding academic records and strong interests in social interaction, autism, movement kinematics and/or eye-tracking. Programming skills are desired but not required.