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Virtual Reality Driving Simulator for Ethical and Moral Dilemmas

Researcher monitoring activity of a subject utilizing the Driving Simulator.

We have created a driving simulator with 3 DoF (pitch, roll, yaw), and integrated it with a Virtual Reality Headset. This simulator is a useful tool with which we can set up experiments with less noise and hazard, in the case of driving. We aim to use this driving simulator in various experiments such as moral dilemma, microdose, and more. While administering an immersive simulation where visual and vestibular stimuli of driving are fully controlled, we are planning to integrate the driving simulator with EEG, EMG measurements, as well as motion capture systems to further its usage.

Investigation of Intention and Agency Using TMS

Research subject in chair with TMS wand near head.We investigate the sense of agency - the sense of ownership or authorship of our actions. TMS is used to artificially activate cortical regions of the brain, and when it is applied to motor cortex participants will move their arms, legs, or other muscles involuntarily. Wittgenstein famously asked: “What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from that fact that I raise my arm?” - We aim to answer this interesting question.

Free Will Survey

Our survey project investigates two commonalities of experiments in the neuroscience of free will. First, the actions undertaken in these experiments are devoid of both consequences and meaning/reasoning. Second, the experiments often conflate freedom and free will. It is unclear how much these constructs overlap in the lay-perspective. Using Qualtrics and MTurk, we conduct an experimental philosophy study to answer these questions.

Investigating the Psycho-Physiological Effects of Floatation

float podWe are interested in studying the neurological and physiological effects of the float pod, also known as REST therapy, or sensory deprivation tank. In this study, we aim to measure neural activity using electroencephalography (EEG) and ECG. We intend to look at the different levels of relaxation and the brain rhythms that are associated with relaxation.

Neural Markers of Deliberate and Random Decisions

The aim of this study is to elucidate the patterns of neural dynamics that underlie human decision making. We will be recording eye-movements, pupil size, and brain activity of participants while they make choices between images, charitable donations, drinks etc. All measurements are recorded non-invasively, to determine objective markers and neural correlates of decision-making and attention.

EEG Biofeedback

Our neurofeedback project teaches participants to self-regulate their brain activity from sad or neutral states to happy states. This involves recording brain activity while participants are in these various moods and teaching a machine-learning algorithm to distinguish the moods in real time. The ultimate goals of this study are:

1) to validate personalized EEG neurofeedback as a treatment for depression; and

2) to identify brain regions as potential targets for Deep Brain Stimulation, an option for treatment-resistant depression.

Covert/Causal Import of Attention

Will directing an individual's covert attention influence the choices they make in deliberate decision-making contexts? The effect of directing overt attention (which involves the shifting of one’s eyes to an option) on decision-making are fairly well known, such that gaze allocation (how much an individual looks at a target) is predictive of choice. However, directing covert attention (which is the act of mentally shifting one's focus using internal neural adjustments without moving one's eyes), on decisions remains less studied. In order to investigate deliberate decisions the proposed study will prompt participants to indicate a preference for, and choose between, non-profit organizations (NPOs).

Pupillary Response and Brain Activity During Decision Making - Eye Decide

What is happening in your brain before you make a spontaneous, volitional movement? Evidence suggests your brain begins preparing for movement even before you have a proximal intention to "move now." This project looks at changes in pupil size leading up to such spontaneous actions.

Exploring Cognitive Aspects of Body Ownership

The Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) is a phenomenon linked to body ownership. In the RHI, the synchronous presentation of tactile and visual sensory events leads a person to feel like a fake hand is his or her own (i.e., a transfer of body-ownership). This kind of bodily-illusion is often used in the study of multisensory integration, self-consciousness, and body ownership. In this experiment, we are interested in the effects of attention on the RHI. Participants will be asked to selectively attend to the visual signal or the tactile sensation of the stimuli and rate the degree to which they experienced the illusion by answering a self-reported questionnaire.

Brain Stimulation and Neural Activity Patterns: A TMS-EEG Study

Integration of neural information and active communcation between brain regions seems to be an important aspect of the biological basis of consciousness. Prior studies have linked how the brain responds to transcranial magnetic stimulation to differences in inter-region communication. In this project, we will use these methods to investigate differences in consciousness between different waking states.

Temporal Binding and Visual Masking

If two events occur sequentially in time, a causal relationship may be perceived. If a causal relationship is perceived between two events, then the time interval between the first event (the 'cause') and the one that follows (the 'effect') is perceived to be shorter than it would be otherwise. This contraction of subjective time is known as "temporal binding". The proposed study will use visual backward masking to track the effects of this temporal binding phenomenon on visual perception. This project aims to test the hypothesis that temporal binding will impact the effectiveness of a visual mask when that mask is perceived as the 'effect' in a cause-effect relationship.

Clever Hans

By tracking pupilary changes and subtle body movements during cognitive tasks such as answering basic math questions, we are searching for a physiological method of determining anticipation towards an answer or decision. Using this eye and body movement data we will train a machine learning algorithm to determine the answer to an unknown question based soley on the participants body and eye movement data in real time.

Decoding Intentions: an EEG Study

The neural basis of intention is still largely unknown. In this study, we will aim to decode the process of decision-making and intention-formation from electroencephalography (EEG) brain signals. We intend to use these methods to answer questions such as how intentions are shaped either freely or from environmental cues.

Social Cognition and Visual Perception in Autism

Visual perception of faces at different sizes as an indicator of social cognition ability.