ruud_hortensius Researcher_In_Social_and_Affective_Neuroscience

About me

I'm a postdoctoral researcher in the Social Brain in Action Laboratory within the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, Scotland. My research is advised by Professor Emily Cross and part of the Social Robots project in which we study how humans perceive and interact with robots. Specifically, I investigate social interactions with humans and artificial agents using neuroimaging,  virtual reality, brain stimulation and behavioural measures.

Prior to this I was a postdoc in the Brain and Emotion Laboratory, Maastricht University, The Netherlands and the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at the University of Cape Town, South Africa (2015-2016). In 2016, I defended my Ph.D.-thesis under supervision of Professor Beatrice de Gelder on the neural mechanisms of threat and distress reactivity at Tilburg University.

Before obtaining my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience (2011), I received a BSc in Psychology (2008) and Social Work (2005). During my MSc I worked with dr. Dennis Schutter (Utrecht University) on the combination of electroencephalography and non-invasive brain stimulation in the study of neurophysiological and emotional processes. In 2010, I was a visiting graduate student in the Social Emotive Neuroscience lab of Professor Eddie Harmon-Jones (Texas A&M University, USA), and used non-invasive brain stimulation to investigate the role of the frontal cortex in aggression.

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Last update: April 11 2018 (news, publications)


*Our review paper on the attribution of socialness to artificial agents has been accepted for publication in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences as part of the Year in Cognitive Neuroscience issue. In this review we discuss how the cognitive reconstruction within the human observer shapes human-robot interaction at the brain and behavioural level. Read the the article here.

*A review on the perception of emotion in artificial agents has been accepted for publication in IEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems. In the review we integrate recent findings from social robotics, virtual reality, psychology, and neuroscience to examine how people recognize and respond to emotions displayed by robotic and virtual agents, and provide guiding principles for future development and research. Read the PsychArXiv pre-print here (official article to follow) and see the poster for the CERE conference here.

*A paper has been accepted in PLoS ONE in which we assess the relation between bystanders' behavioral reactivity to distress and later helping behavior during a violent conflict in virtual reality. This is work that is part of a collaboration with Solène Neyret and Mel Slater from the EVENT lab (Barcelona) and Beatrice de Gelder from the Brain and Emotion Lab (Maastricht).

---Recent highlights---

*The  workshop on “Cognitive and Social Neuroscience Methods for HRI” held at the 13th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction was a blast! Thanks to all the speakers and attendees, check the website for the slides of the talks! The main HRI 2018 conference was very interesting and motivating.

*A popularity contest in the robotic petting zoo! Together with artist-in-residency Merel Bekking, we created an interactive public art performance. In this robotic petting zoo, a small group of vacuuming robots, all with unique characters, competed in a popularity contest. So much fun! Please check this page, the website or this BBC piece for more information.

*Very proud on a forthcoming publication in Current Directions in Psychological Science. Together, with Beatrice de Gelder I propose a new theoretical perspective on bystander apathy that integrates emotional, motivational and dispositional aspects.

*I played a minor role in a project that used immersive virtual reality to induce a full body ownership illusion that allows offenders to become the victim of domestic abuse. The goal is to use this to decrease domestic abuse. Read it here! Check out the press coverage here.