We use a range of techniques that include functional MRI, psychophysiology, psychophysics, and eye-gaze tracking to address our research questions. Our research is supported by several funding bodies including the Medical Research Council, Leverhulme Trust, Economic and Social Research Council, Felix Foundation, and Autism Speaks.
How do we make sense of others' expressions of emotion? Why are some of us better at it than others? Why do people with Autism Spectrum Conditions often face difficulties in recognising and responding appropriately to others' emotions? These are some of the questions that we are interested in.
Empathy and Emotion
Empathy is the lens through which we view emotions in others. The highly empathic can sense others' emotions automatically, and respond appropriately to them. On the other hand, many people (including many individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions) often experience difficulties in picking up socio-emotional cues from others, and responding to them. Our approach treats empathy as a continuum across the whole population, and targets questions such as :
a) How does empathy influence the perception of emotions in others and in ourselves?
b) What are the factors that govern how much we will empathise with another person?
Autism Spectrum Conditions represent a cluster of symptoms often marked by difficulties in reading and responding appropriately to social and emotional cues from others. An emerging approach to study ASC treats the spectrum as an extreme end of a set of continuously distributed dimensions, rather than treating it as one fixed category. Our research develops and examines brain and behavioural measures of the dimensions related to social-emotional behaviour.