I am a Macquarie University Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Cognitive Science (academic webpage here).
In my research, I use a combination of methodologies to investigate the cognitive and neural processes that allow us to understand and interact with others. These include infrared eye-tracking, virtual reality, event-related potentials (ERPs) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
I am particularly interested in how we understand and use eye gaze to coordinate our attention with others - a social function that we call "joint attention". This is a crucial social skill, because it allows us to share experiences with others, understand their visual and mental perspective, and learn socially during face-to-face interactions.
We currently know very little about joint attention because it occurs during dynamic interactions, which are hard to simulate and study in experimental settings. To overcome this challenge, I have been developing virtual interfaces that can be used to simulate realistic, compelling and controlled social interactions in the lab and in neuroimaging environments.
I am currently applying these techniques in a series of projects involving adults and children with typical development, autism and schizophrenia. I hope that my research will advance our understanding of how the brain supports our capacity for social interaction, and why this may be difficult for some individuals with autism and schizophrenia.
This brief article that I recently wrote for SpectrumNews provides an overview of my research and key findings, including a video demonstration. The article also featured in Scientific American (see here).