Centre for Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (cSCAN)

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), substantial ERC and RCUK funding, and on-going research projects with many industrial partners (e.g., Danone Research, Dimensional Imaging, Qumodo).



BarrBarsalou, Cross, DeBruine, Foster, GarrodJack, JonesLages, MarsellaMcAleer, Papies, PhiliastidesPollick, Rousselet, Scheepers, Schyns, Sereno, Simmons, Vinciarelli.


Highlighted Centre Initiatives


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

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)

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., 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

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)

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)

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)

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.
  • The Psychology of sugary drinks: The role of consumption and reward simulations. ESRC,  £415K, 2018 – 2021.
  • 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, Appetite, Archives of Sexual Behavior, British Journal of Psychology, Behavior Research Methods, Cognition, Collabra, Evolution & Human Behavior, Frontiers in Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Psychological Science, Social Cognition, Social Psychology, and Testing, Psychometrics & Methodology in Applied Psychology.