While there are many ongoing projects in the lab, two representative lines are outlined below.
Emotion perception in neuropsychological disorders
Individuals with Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease suffer degenerative brain damage that results in a variety of symptoms, most notably, in movement disorders. Yet, in both cases, deficits in emotion recognition have also been documented. In our lab we study these deficits using more ecological tasks. For example, we test the recognition of subtle everyday-like emotional expressions, as opposed to the highly stereotypical and exaggerated facial expressions typically used. We also examine how the perception of faces interacts with other contextual cues such as dynamic body language.
Real life emotion expression and perception
For decades, research on emotion perception has focused on artificial and highly stereotypical facial expressions presented in an isolated, decontextualized manner. But real-life emotion perception is far more complex, involving a variety of non-typical expressions across multiple channels and within changing contextual settings. Surprisingly little is known about emotional expressions “in the wild”. In our lab we are running several projects that utilize authentic video footage and audio recordings in order to better understand how people express emotions in real life. A special focus is given to highly intense “raw” emotions that are often expressed in unanticipated and atypical ways. In our research we use a wide range of methodologies from eye tracking and facial EMG recording to video analysis and behavioral data.