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James P. Morris - Social Neuroscience

Social Science
Supervising Faculty Member: 
James P. Morris
Research Focus: 

In our lab, we are interested in the neural and biological correlates of social perception (using behavioral measurements, eye-tracking, electroencephalography, fMRI, and epigenetics). Current studies in the lab are investigating the neural mechanisms underlying affective processing, attention, and perception of both social cues and non-social cues. The current research agenda is to explain the variance in these cognitive processes at the individual level through epigenetic analysis. Isolating our attention to DNA methylation of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR), we are interested in mapping quantitative functions of epigenetic influence to neural processing and behavioral phenotypes in various stimulus environments that incorporate social and non-social information. We are interested in both the shared and unshared variance between social and non-social cues, and how epigenetics may inform these processes. In short, we seek to understand how humans navigate the complex social world in which we are immersed from different levels of analysis—genetic, neural, and behavioral.

Position Description: 

Students will be responsible for running participants and collecting data for the lab’s studies, entering data, recruiting and contacting participants, participating in lab meetings and contributing to the research process, analyzing data, and piloting and programming studies for the lab.

Required Skills: 

Conscientiousness, attention to detail, ability to follow instructions clearly and efficiently, and the ability to be independent.

What will you learn: 

First and foremost, we desire for students to be able to see all aspects of the research process for psychological science, ranging from the daily ins and outs of entering data and running participants, to seeing an idea start in a lab meeting, come to fruition, and become an empirically sound experiment. We would also like students to become adequate consumers of psychological research, which we hope to inculcate through having students engaged fully in the research process (reading the latest scientific journal articles alongside Dr. Morris and his team of graduate students, as well as through attending lab meetings). Finally, we intend for students to learn administrative and interpersonal skills through working closely with graduate students, faculty, and, of course, the participants in our research.

Social Neuroscience