I have two principal research interests: The first is social perception - the mechanisms mediating the perception of human faces, bodies and actions and how they differ from the processes recruited by other 'generic' classes of stimuli. While considerable research attention has focused on the recognition of identity from static stimuli, the role of dynamic motion cues remains poorly understood. Equally, the mechanisms mediating perception of human bodies have been largely neglected despite a number of parallels with faces.
My second interest relates to mirror neurons, imitation and the visuomotor correspondence problem. Automatic imitation, i.e. the unconscious, unintentional copying of observed actions, is evidence that action observation can excite corresponding motor representations. However, whether these associations are innate or acquired through sensorimotor experience, remains a topic of intense debate. Much of my work with Cecilia Heyes (University of Oxford) has been concerned with testing the claim that mirror neurons acquire their sensorimotor properties through associative learning.
I am always very interested to hear from students (based at City or elsewhere) who are keen to get involved in research relating to social perception or imitation. I usually have a number of ongoing projects that require data collection. This research experience would suit students who are considering applying for PhD funding (or for the Clinical Doctorate) and wish to develop their research skills / publication record.