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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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Action & Body

Action and Body group investigates cognitive aspects of two sensorimotor processes that underlie all human behaviour. The group is led by Prof Patrick Haggard.

Patrick Haggard

Group Leader

 

p.haggard@ucl.ac.uk

+44 20 7679 1153

Patrick Haggard

Action & Body Research

Our research investigates cognitive aspects of two sensorimotor processes that underlie all human behaviour. These are the control of voluntary action and the experience we have of our own body. Research on voluntary action focusses on understanding the relation between the brain activity in the frontal and parietal lobes that precedes movements, and the conscious experience of controlling our own movements. A key question is whether conscious intentions are an immediate consequence of preparation for action in the frontal lobes, or a retrospective mental justification to explain actions that we have just made. 

Studies of body perception focus on the body as a multimodal object: we perceive our bodies in two distinct ways. Vision gives us information about our body as a volumetric object in external space, while proprioception and touch give us information "from the inside". Our research focusses on how these sources of information are combined to give a coherent bodily self. We use a range of experimental methods including psychophysics, TMS, ERP and brain imaging to investigate these questions.

Group Members

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Mariana Babo-Rebelo

Mariana Babo-Rebelo

m.rebelo@ucl.ac.uk

My research focuses on how action performance may interact with navigation and spatial representations, in particular in terms of the reference frame used (allocentric/egocentric). I use behavioural and neuroimaging techniques, such as MEG and fMRI.

Steven Di Costa

Steven di Costa
steven.dicosta.13@ucl.ac.uk

II'm currently working on thermal coding and pain perception in the skin, using both direct contact (thermodes) and indirect stimulation (laser) methods.

Elisabeth Parés-Pujolràs

Elisabeth Pares

elisabeth.pujolras.15@ucl.ac.uk

My research studies the neural basis of voluntary action control. I am interested in the mechanisms underlying top-down regulation of decision-making processes, and in the role of conscious intention in action control. I investigate these questions using EEG experiments.

Eoin Travers

Eoin Travers
e.travers@ucl.ac.uk

I'm interested in decision-making and reasoning, and in particular how they unfold over time. At the Haggard Lab, I use EEG and computational modelling to explore the neural processes that underlie voluntary or "free" actions. I'm also interested in the conscious and metacognitive awareness, and in conflict in high-level cognition. 

Shinya Takamuku

Shinya Takamuku

​​​​​​
s.takamuku@ucl.ac.uk

I'm interested in how our brain monitors our motor action and the neural computation involved. My current research examines how the brain estimates self-motion from touch.

PhD students 

Irena Arslanova

Irena Arslanova

I’m interested in touch perception. Specifically, I use psychophysical and electrophysiological methods to understand how tactile motion information is extracted by the brain, and how it’s integrated from different body regions to give rise to a coherent representation of spatial direction.

Ivan Ezquerra Romano

Ivan Ezquierra
ivan.romano.14@ucl.ac.uk

My current research focuses on the perception of temperature. I have developed novel methods to study thermal sensation without touch. I hope to combine these methods with psychophysics, EEG, animal studies and computational techniques to understand the mechanisms underlying thermal sensation.

Gwydion Williams

Gwydion Williams
gwydion.williams.15@ucl.ac.uk

We occasionally commit ourselves to policies of action in the hope of changing some high-level state of the world (e.g. we might decide to become vegetarian towards improving the state of the climate).  My research is focussed on understanding how we motivate (and at times fail to maintain) these long-term policies.  I’m interested in how we deal with conflicts between high-level goals and lower-level experiences of reward, and in how we monitor and update beliefs about high-level states of the world whilst we try to act on them.  I use computational methods (in particular, reinforcement learning) and behavioural tasks to answer these questions.

Independent Research Fellows   

Lucie Charles

Lucie Charles
lucie.charles.ens@googlemail.com

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow of the British Academy, studying the cognitive processes related to metacognition, action awareness and freedom of choice. I study how we monitor our own actions and how it relates to our subjective experience of control over our behaviour. In a first line of research, I work on understanding what people know about their motor actions and what makes them confident in their own movements. In a second line of research, I investigate the neural correlates of volition, exploring the cognitive processes that enable people to make free decisions and evaluate their own freedom of choice. 

Learn more about my research and my publications.