I am an experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist interested in how our minds and brains represent meaning. Making sense of the world requires representing concrete and abstract information about ourselves, our experiences, the objects we perceive, and the people we interact with. Levels of abstraction are organised hierarchically in the brain, from incoming sensory information represented as elemental perceptual features (e.g. colour, form) to high level abstract thought (e.g. social beliefs, aesthetic judgment) structured according to current goals and contexts. The goal of my research is to understand the organization and structure of knowledge, meaning, and thought in mind and brain at different levels of abstraction. I use a variety of methods, including behavioural experiments, functional neuroimaging, studies of neurological patients, large scale online studies, and video analysis of dyadic social interactions.
I completed a master’s degree in Research Methods & Statistics and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Manchester under the mentorship of Dr. Ellen Poliakoff (University of Manchester), Dr. Judith Holler (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics), and Dr. Trevor Crawford (University of Lancaster). My doctoral thesis investigated co-speech gesture as a window into impaired action representations and spatial cognition in Parkinson’s disease.
I began a postdoc with Dr. Anjan Chatterjee in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, at the University of Pennsylvania, in 2016 . My recent research projects in the ChatLab examine behavioural and neural responses to abstracted representations of actions in metaphors and paintings. I am now launching a new program of research investigating curiosity as a driver of information-seeking behaviour in social, educational, and aesthetic contexts.
I believe science should be open, transparent and reproducible. Most of my experiments are pre-registered and I make my code and materials freely and publicly available. Check out my osf profile: https://osf.io/4x8cr/