Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience


Social Neuroscience

Social Neuroscience group investigates the mechanisms of social interaction. The group is led by Prof Antonia Hamilton.

Antonia Hamilton

Group Leader



+44 20 7679 4640

Antonia Hamilton

Social Neuroscience Research

The Social Neuroscience group studies the underlying mechanisms of social interaction, and whether these develop differently in individuals with autism spectrum condition.
Our research spans many domains and questions:

  • Social - how do people interact with other people, in particular nonverbal interaction and hand actions?
  • Cognitive - what are the information processing mechanisms involved in social interaction?
  • Developmental -how does social cognition develop over childhood and why does this development sometimes go wrong?
  • Motor - how do we move in response to others, interacting as well as perceiving?
  • Neuroscience - what brain systems and connections are involved in social interaction?

To answer these questions, we use behavioural, cognitive, virtual reality and brain scanning methods to study healthy children and adults as well as those with autism spectrum condition.

Group Members

Independent Research Fellows

Sarah White

Sarah White

Sarah White is an independent research fellow, interested in mentalising, central coherence and executive function in autism & Asperger Syndrome. Cognitive subtypes and individual differences in the autism spectrum and their relationship to behaviour. Understanding of social stereotypes in autism. Sensorimotor impairments in dyslexia and other developmental disorders.

Post-doctoral Research Fellows

Roser Cañigueral

Roser Photo

My research is focused on the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie eye gaze processing during social interactions, both in typical and autistic individuals. I am particularly interested in how being watched and gaze contingency modulate eye gaze in natural communicative interactions, and their consequences on prosocial behaviour. To study this I combine behavioural tasks, eye-tracking and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

PhD Students

Ishita Chowdhury

Ishita Chowdhury

I am interested in studying implicit mentalizing, i.e. the ability of people to attribute mental states such as beliefs, desires and intentions to other individuals and themselves, especially when they are not explicitly aware of doing this, and how this might differ in Autistic individuals. I am particularly interested in investigating whether or not Autistic individuals, who have previously been found to be impaired in mentalizing, are capable of detecting deception, i.e. when they are being lied to, by using behavioural measures and eye tracking.

Sara de Felice

Sara de felice

I am interested in studying the neural and behavioural features that emerge during natural human social interaction, and whether these are associated with learning. Do we learn better from people we are more socially tuned with? I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in hyper scanning studies (recording brain activity from two people simultaneously) to study brain-to-brain synchrony. I also use motion capture, video and audio recording data to identify behavioural coordination patterns during social learning tasks. I am founded by the Leverhulme Trust as part of the Ecological Study of the Brain DTP.

Patrick Falk

Patrick Falk

My research interest involves sensorimotor perception and the demarcation between self and other, with a strong emphasis on the technological prospects within the field. As part of my PhD I explore real-time dyadic social interactions using high-resolution motion capture and virtual reality in order to test current theories in social neuroscience.

Isla Jones

Isla jones


My research explores the neural mechanisms underlying the audience effect, and I have a particular interest in exploring social interactions in real-world environments.  As part of my PhD, I am also working to develop and improve analysis methods for the integration of physiological data such as heart rate and breathing rate with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and behavioural data. In collaboration with Shimadzu, my research aims to provide a new neurocognitive understanding of the origins of the audience effect.

Sujatha Krishnan-Barman

Sujatha Photo

My research is centred on exploring the cognitive and neural mechanisms underpinning mimicry and overimitation. As part of my PhD I explore how these mechanisms are modulated by top-down social processes, and how they differ between healthy adults and those with autism spectrum condition. In my research I utilise a variety of techniques including behavioural studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

Marcia Petyt

Marcia Petyt

I am interested in studying mentalizing in individuals with autism who speak more than one language. Bilingualism, multilingualism and polyglotism have many social and cognitive advantages but it is not clear if these advantages extend to mentalizing. In my research I will be using behavioral measures, eye tracking, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography. 

Ruihan Wu

Ruihan Wu

My research interests are the construction of mentalising and its relationship with potential socio-cognitive factors. During my PhD, I am primarily exploring the cognitive mechanism and neural correlates of implicit mentalising and the interrelationship between implicit and explicit mentalising in both neurotypical and clinical populations, such as individuals with autism. I am also investigating potential factors that can be related to the performance of implicit and explicit mentalizing, such as culture, social motivation and social engagement. Techniques I use include behavioural measures, eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG)/ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).