About the Project
Study 1 will use a reaction time task to compare how people orient their attention to real hands, clearly artificial hands and artificial (prosthetic) hands. This will shed light on how we socially orient in response to artificial hands, but also provides a potential “marker” of the uncanny response. Study 2 will use electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the neurophysiological underpinnings of the attentional and uncanny effects. We will carry out EEG recordings from participants performing the attentional task. We will then compare event related potentials (ERPs) for targets that the hand pointed towards or away from. The results will tell us how our attention is influenced by real and artificial hands and at what stage of cognitive and attentional processes differences emerge. We also plan to look at how these processes are affected in autistic adults, who may respond differently to social cues. Understanding the social-attentional implications of the uncanny phenomenon is timely because of the relevance to the design of prosthetic, robotic and computer-generated hands. Moreover, the project also addresses important fundamental questions about how we respond to human and artificial bodies.
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related Psychology, Neuroscience or a related subject area. Candidates with experience in EEG or with an interest in attention are encouraged to apply.
For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk
As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.
MacDorman KF, Entezari SO (2015) Individual differences predict sensitivity to the uncanny valley. Interaction Studies, 16, 141 –172
Mori M. The uncanny valley [Bukimi no tani] (K. F. MacDorman & Norri Kageki, Trans.). IEEE Robotics and Automation. 2012; 19: 98-100.
Poliakoff E, O’Kane S, Carefoot O, Kyberd P, Gowen E (2018) Investigating the uncanny valley for prosthetic hands. Prosthetics & Orthotics International. 42, 21-27.
Poliakoff E, Beach N, Best R, Howard T, Gowen E (2013) Can looking at a hand make your skin crawl? Peering into the uncanny valley for hands. Perception, 42, 998-1000.
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