Centre for Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 

cSCAN researchers address fundamental mechanisms of social perception, social cognition, and social interaction. Research on social perception examines how humans process social signals in multiple channels, principally vision (faces, bodies) and audition (voices, language), and how the cultural, neural, and biological underpinnings of this processing affect interactions with artificial agents (e.g., social robots as well as avatars encountered in real or virtual realities). Research on social cognition addresses emotion, motivation, and self-regulation. Research on social interaction addresses language, social coordination, and culture. In their work, cSCAN researchers employ a wide variety of behavioural methods, often complemented by neuroscience methods (e.g., fMRI, MEG). Computational modeling and Big Data methods associated with social signal processing, social robotics, and communication also play central roles in cSCAN research. In general, cSCAN supports state-of-the-art research with social impact from a multidisciplinary and multimethod perspective.

cSCAN members lead a strong international research network, with editorial board membership of prominent journals (e.g., Psychological Science, JEP:General, Cognition, PNAS), substantial national and international funding including ERC, RCUK, ONR MURI and DARPA sources, a range of UK Trusts and Foundations as well as on-going research projects with many industrial partners (e.g., Danone Research, Dimensional Imaging, Qumodo).

Since opening in 2015, cSCAN's total research portfolio is £8.5M. cSCAN's core researchers have garnered over158,000 citations, 77,000 since 2015.

Core Members 

BarrBarsalou, Cross, DeBruine, GarrodJack, JonesLages, MarsellaPapiesPollick, Scheepers, Schyns, SerenoSimmons,

Associated Members 

Foster, McAleer, PhiliastidesRousselet, Vinciarelli.


Equipment and Facilities

In addiiton to resources shared with other Institute of Neuroscience & Psychology centres, cSCAN's research facilities encompass a wide range of state of the art equipment, including:  Head-mounted eye-tracker with real-world tracking, Vicon-based motion capture lab, Qualisys Motion Capture lab, Xsens motion capture suit for portable motion capture, VR labs with Vive Pro Eye and Oculus Quest headsets, Character animation system for fully-articulated, interactive characters, DI3D face capture system with software to analyse images, Di4D stereo photogrammetry and facial motion capture system, real-time 3D facial animation and rendering system, 3D facial identity database and synthetic facial identity generation system, a suite of humanoid and non-humanoid social robots.

Highlighted Centre Initiatives

The 20th ACM International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA). Conference hosted by cSCAN (October 2020)

The 7th Consortium of European Research on Emotion (CERE) Conference. Conference hosted by centre (April 2018).

Teaching Reproducible Data Analysis with R. Public workshop hosted by the centre (March 2018).

How do Online Interactions Shape our Social World? Debate hosted by centre (October 2017), with panel members Robin Dunbar (University of Oxford), Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford), Sue Fletcher-Watson (University of Edinburgh), and Damon Centola (University of Pennsylvania).

Face Facts: Revealing the information hidden in faces. Interactive exhibition at the Royal Society of London’s 2015 Summer Science Exhibition.


Highlighted Publications

Al-Wasity, S., Vogt, S., Vuckovic, A., & Pollick, F. E. (2020). Hyperalignment of motor cortical areas based on motor imagery during action observation. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-12.

Barrett, L. F., Adolphs, R., Marsella, S., Martinez, A. M., & Pollak, S. D. (2019). Emotional expressions reconsidered: Challenges to inferring emotion from human facial movements. Psychological science in the public interest, 20(1), 1-68.

Barsalou, L.W., Dutriaux, L., & Scheepers, C. (2018). Moving beyond the distinction between concrete and abstract concepts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 373, 20170144,

Chen, Q., Zhang, J., Xu, X., Scheepers, C., Yang, Y. and Tanenhaus, M. K. (2016) Prosodic expectations in silent reading: ERP evidence from rhyme scheme and semantic congruence in classic Chinese poems. Cognition, 154, 11 - 21. (doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.05.007)

de Melo, C., Marsella, S. and Gratch, J. (2019) Human Cooperation When Acting Through Autonomous Machines. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116 (9) 3482-3487; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817656116

Diaz, J. A., Queirazza, F. and Philiastides, M. G. (2017) Perceptual learning alters post-sensory processing in human decision making. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, 0035. (doi:10.1038/s41562-016-0035)

Hahn, A. C., Fisher, C. I., Cobey, K. D., Debruine, L. M. and Jones, B. C. (2016) A longitudinal analysis of women’s salivary testosterone and intrasexual competitiveness. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 64, pp. 117-122.

Jack, R. E., Crivelli, C. and Wheatley, T. (2017) Data-driven methods to diversify knowledge of human psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, (doi:10.1016/j.tics.2017.10.002)

Jack, R. E. and Schyns, P. G. (2017) Toward a social psychophysics of face communication. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, pp. 269-297. (doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-010416-044242)

Jack, R. E., Sun, W., Delis, I., Garrod, O. G. B. and Schyns, P. G. (2016) Four not six: revealing culturally common facial expressions of emotion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145(6), pp. 708-730. (doi:10.1037/xge0000162)

Jones, B. C., Hahn, A. C. & DeBruine, L. M. (2019). Ovulation, sex hormones, and women’s mating psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23: 51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.10.008

Jones, B. C., Hahn, A. C., Fisher, C., Wang, H., Kandrik, M., Han, C., Fasolt, V., Morrison, D. K., Lee, A., Holzleitner, I. J., O'Shea, K. J., Roberts, S. C., Little, A. C. & DeBruine, L. M. (2018). No compelling evidence that preferences for facial masculinity track changes in women's hormonal status. Psychological Science, in press

Kanel, D., Al-Wasity, S., Stefanov, K., & Pollick, F. E. (2019). Empathy to emotional voices and the use of real-time fMRI to enhance activation of the anterior insula. NeuroImage, 198, 53-62.

Lages, M., Boyle, S. C. and Jenkins, R. (2017) Illusory increases in font size improve letter recognition. Psychological Science, 28(8), pp. 1180-1188. (doi:10.1177/0956797617705391)

Lebois, L.A.M., Wilson-Mendenhall, C.D., & Barsalou, L.W. (2015). Are automatic conceptual cores the gold standard of semantic processing? The context-dependence of spatial meaning in grounded congruency effects. Cognitive Science,39, 1764-1801.

Papies, E. K., Johannes, N., Daneva, T., Semyte, G., & Kauhanen, L.-L. (2020). Using consumption and reward simulations to increase the appeal of plant-based foods. Appetite, in press.

Papies, E. K., Pronk, T. M., Keesman, M. and Barsalou, L. W. (2015) The benefits of simply observing: mindful attention modulates the link between motivation and behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(1), pp. 148-170. (doi:10.1037/a0038032) (PMID:25347126)

Piwek, L., McKay, L. and Pollick, F. E. (2014) Empirical evaluation of the uncanny valley hypothesis fails to confirm the predicted effect of motion. Cognition, 130(3), pp. 271-277. (doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.11.001)

Popivanov, I. D., Schyns, P. G. and Vogels, R. (2016) Stimulus features coded by single neurons of a macaque body category selective patch. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(7), E2450-E2459. (doi:10.1073/pnas.1520371113)

Rohrer, J. M., Tierney, W., Uhlmann, E. L., DeBruine, L. M., Heyman, T., Jones, B. C., … Yarkoni, T. (In press). Putting the Self in Self-Correction: Findings from the Loss-of-Confidence Project. Perspectives on Psychological Science. Preprint: 

Rychlowska, M., Jack, R.E., Garrod, O.G.B., Schyns, P.G., Martin, J. & Niedenthal, P.M. (2017). Functional smiles: Tools for love, sympathy, and war. Psychological Science. (doi: 10.1177/0956797617706082)

Scheepers, C. , Galkina, A., Shtyrov, Y., & Myachykov, A. (2019). Hierarchical structure priming from mathematics to two- and three-site relative clause attachment. Cognition, 189, pp. 155-166. (doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.03.021).

Tamariz, M., Ellison, T. M., Barr, D. J. and Fay, N. (2014) Cultural selection drives the evolution of human communication systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 281(1788), p. 20140488. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.0488)

Van Rijsbergen, N., Jaworska, K., Rousselet, G. A. and Schyns, P. G. (2014) With age comes representational wisdom in social signals. Current Biology, 24(23), pp. 2792-2796. (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.075)


Highlighted Grants

  • Computing the face syntax of social communication. European Research Council, 1.5M, 2018 – 2023.
  • SOCIAL, UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Socially Intelligent Artificial Agents, £4.9M, 2019 – 2027.
  • Using consumption and reward simulations to increase desire for plant-based foods. ESRC, £546K, 2021 – 2023
  • The Psychology of sugary drinks: The role of consumption and reward simulations. ESRC,  £415K, 2018 – 2021.
  • Innovate UK, Knowledge Transfer Partnership – Qumodo-Glasgow University project to develop image investigation tools and human-AI interfaces, £340,749, 2019-2022.
  • From data and theory to computational models of more effective virtual human gestures, EPSRC, £435K, 2020 – 2023.
  • Mechanisms and Consequences of Attributing Socialness to Artificial Agents. European Research Council, €1.8M, 2016 – 2021.
  • How do humans recognise kin? European Research Council, 2.0M, 2015 – 2020.
  • Do oral contraceptives alter mate preferences? European Research Council, 1.4M, 2012 - 2017.


Editorial Board Memberships

cSCAN members hold positions on the editorial boards of many international journals, including Acta Psychologia, Adaptive Human Behavior & Physiology, Affective Science, APA Technology, Mind, and Behavior, Appetite, Archives of Sexual Behavior, British Journal of Psychology, Behavior Research Methods, Cognition, Collabra, Emotion, Evolution & Human Behavior, Frontiers in Psychology, International Journal of Humanoid Robotics, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Psychological Science, Psychometrics & Methodology in Applied Psychology, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, and Testing.