Brain Sciences


Transcript of Faculty alumni event February 2016

Alan Thompson:
I’d like to welcome you all to this inaugural alumni event. It’s truly an opportunity for alumni to meet each other and for, if they wish, to meet the staff and the students.

Sophie Scott:
I’m a UCL alumnus, I did my PhD at UCL. I just had the best three years. So it’s really fantastic to have the opportunity to give something back. So I’m going to talk about the science of laughter. We're going to try and convince you that there is such a thing as a science of laughter.

Alexandros Koronakis:
I studied cognitive and decision sciences at UCL. I started in 2010 and did the degree part-time over two years. 
So coming from a communication field, going into a degree about essentially psychology and neuroscience, which I didn't have any background on, it was very interesting to see how that connected with my everyday life and with my professional field.

Communication and psychology are very closely interrelated. So I find that with my degree and the academic knowledge that I got I can, let's say, strategise about how to connect with people, in negotiation, in politics, how to connect with them during an interview and make them feel more comfortable.

When it comes to marketing, neuro marketing, psychology and selling things, it's also very useful.

Sophie Scott:
The joke happens, his voice is affected, the few beats in, and then you see the loss of control, and you see the pitch voice goes to, again this is an adult man with a deep voice, you get this incredibly high pitched voice “he hit a four over the wicket keepers head”

Alexandros Koronakis:
I haven't seen Sophie Scott before and to be honest I haven't come across the neuroscience of laughter before and I find it very interesting that it's understudied. Professor Scott had a fantastic way to engage with the audience and make all of us laugh at the same time, without that being her primary concern, it seems.

I'm very proud have studied at UCL. It's a university that carries the gravitas of being one of the best universities in the world, consistently leading the rankings. And at the same time it doesn't have this pretentious feel that many other universities do which are at the top of that list do.

It's very easy nowadays to be in touch with people who you do your degree with because of all the social media. We have a group on Facebook where we communicate, new students every year keep coming in, so it's a nice little network.

Sophie Scott:
His friends are already laughing! They're laughing!  He's not laughing. The thing that's more striking is as soon as what they expect to happen doesn't happen, his friends start laughing and it takes a couple of beats but then he joins in. Imagine what that video must be like if his friends were all standing laughing hard while he lay there going, ‘No, Heinrich, I think I need to go to the hospital.’ 

Tanya Chakrabati:
I'm part of the London alumni group and there are lots of activities that we take part in, you know, at least one a month I’ll do. I obviously looked at what all the unis were offering for psychology and really thought that UCL  was offering the best course and it did help, it did help that it was inclusive and was the first to take on women on an equal footing, and certainly I mean our group I think was less than 50 then, but it was a very diverse group and that was good, which might not have been the case elsewhere. And it's nice to still feel part of the uni.

Sophie Scott:
What he's found, however, is if you look at people and you actually observe them and note when they laugh, they laugh when they're with other people. Laughter is a social behaviour, as it is emerges, as it is when it is during play,it stays social, even in adulthood. 

Alistair Cameron:
I studied audiological science and most of the study for that, in fact practically all of the study, was done at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in Gray's Inn Road. I thought UCL was a great place for learning. I mean particularly when I was in the thick of it at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, because it was ery practical, hands-on, involved with real patients a lot, so it was all round a good experience. I have to say that the teaching staff were just
phenomenally helpful.

Sophie Scot:
So laughter, I think it's time we took it seriously. It’s this phenomenally important social behaviour, which probably is speaking a great deal to our evolutionary history, and is actually also something that we’re actively using to make and maintain social bonds and actually once we've established relationships with people, we then are actually able then to use the laughter to regulate our emotional states within.

Evelyn Tong:
I did an undergrad psychology course at UCL and then I did a Masters in research methods in psychology in 2012.

Maxim Kikoler:
I did the same Masters in research methods in psychology in 2012, and graduated in 2013.

Evelyn Tong:
There was a big thing when in our undergrad, I think I was in second or third year, about how UCL was the number four eading university in the world. And all of us were very proud of that, and very proud to be part of that community as well, being able to study in this kind of environment. 

Maxim Kikoler:
My masters that I did here at UCL, which was looking at preventing adolescent depression, has very much influenced the choice of the type of clinical psychology that I’ve gone into for my doctoral thesis, which is looking at the same kind of research but with children and adolescents with autism. And if it wasn't for the opportunities at UCL, that type of research being carried out here, I’m not entirely sure I would be able to find that passion that I decided to dedicate my life to. 

Evelyn Tong:
I think one of the best years of my life so far have been doing the Masters course at UCL because of the people that I met. 

Maxim Kikoler:
Ah - Sorry, I pre-empted that but I figured that’s where it was going.

Evelyn Tong:
And also just because of the quality of the teaching. And I just really enjoyed that year. I mean I may not be in touch with some of the people now that I met but then I really enjoyed being with them at the time and sharing those kind of ideas. 

Maxim Kikoler:
UCL’s great! I did my undergrad in Leeds and I'd never thought I’d enjoy studying in London. Coming to UCL I loved every moment of it. There wasn't a point that I didn't enjoy being here and every opportunity that I had to study here and I hope that in the
future I’ll be able to do post-doc stuff here. It's really quite a privilege to be here.