About the Project
How can we communicate with other members of society and synchronise our motion in real-time? Crucial to a sense of communication is the ability to entrain perceptually with other members of society, i.e., to be able to follow and to lead, while maintaining individual autonomy. However, the reorganisation of the brain activity under real-time coordinated motion has never been investigated in terms of simultaneous scanning/analysis of two brains. The aim of this project is to reveal the neurological foundations and dynamical functions of two human brains enacting a real-time coordinated activity, and to predict if the cooperation between two persons is successful only by monitoring their brain activities.
For social animals, moving bodies together in harmony plays an important role to facilitate social interactions. In humans, such coordinated actions are common in group activities such as playing music and dancing. Here, the question arises: how can two persons maintain the sense of autonomy, feeling accomplishment of the tasks together, rather than feeling used by the other?
In an evolutionary sense, the mirror-neuron system, the neuronal population which fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another, should facilitate higher cognition such as language acquisition, interpersonal coordination, and social perception. However, how the mirror-neuron system functions under real-time interactions with another mirror-neuron system has not been revealed.
In this project, first, we will capture whole-body motion while two persons are engaged in cooperative tasks, and we will take account of dynamical aspects of two brains influencing each other in real-time, i.e., simultaneously scanning the two brains.
Dr. Hayashi’s research spans the areas of complex physical systems, behavioural science and neuroscience, with specific expertise in: 1) non-equilibrium dynamics governing adaptive behaviour in physical and living systems; 2) neural/behavioural mechanisms of the closed brain-body loop for Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI); and 3) mathematical models underpinning behaviour and activity of neural networks. A key focus of his work has been revealing how the closed loop of brain-body systems of humans gives rise to behavioural patterns and cognitive behaviour during interactions with other humans. Techniques include physio-chemical experiments, behavioural experiments, electroencephalogram (EEG) measurement, and mathematical modelling. The group’s specialty is using combinations of EEG and haptic devices to develop novel human-machine interfaces that can be used to investigate brain-body mechanisms.
The lab website is https://www.sites.google.com/site/complexlivingmachineslab/.
The first supervisor for this project is Dr Yoshikatsu Hayashi (University of Reading); the second supervisor is Prof Toshiyuki Kondo, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan.
School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:
The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport.
Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching.
In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.
During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills. The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.
Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Engineering or Biomedical Engineering or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements.
How to apply: Submit an application for a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at http://www.reading.ac.uk/pgapply
Enquiries: Dr. Yoshikatsu Hayashi, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yano, S., Hayashi, Y., Murata, Y., Imamizu, H., Maeda, T. and Kondo, T. (2020) Statistical learning model of the sense of agency. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. 539957. ISSN 1664-1078 doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.539957
Please see Dr Yoshikatsu Hayashi's academic profile: http://www.reading.ac.uk/biologicalsciences/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Meetourteam/staff/y-hayashi.aspx
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