Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience
Michael Inzlicht, Professor of Psychology
Veerpal Bambrah obtained her Honours Bachelor of Science in Mental Health Studies and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus. She is currently managing Michael Inzlicht's Toronto Laboratory for Social Neuroscience and Yoel Inbar's Emotion, Morality, and Politics Laboratory. Her independent study with Inzlicht examined the role of trait mindfulness in the emotional disengagement of attention, using the emotional attentional blink task. She has a growing interest in the use of event-related potentials (ERPs) using electroencephalography (EEG), and hopes to apply these methods to further examine the role of mindfulness, self-control, and emotion regulation in social, and possibly clinical, behaviours.
Daniel Randles's current work focuses on understanding why there are individual differences in self-control and whether targeted training can change a person’s tendency to exhibit greater daily control for longer periods (months). Self-control is still an active topic of research and discussion, with no one theory accounting for current data or fully explaining why individual differences might exist. Daniel uses social neuroscience techniques to study self-control at the individual level, and machine learning analyses to estimate patterns of control across regions of North America, based on accessible online digital footprints. Additional lines of research that Daniel is interested in include the cognitive process and behavioural consequences of uncertainty, and the effects of different emotions, particularly shame, when experiencing life-changing events.
Blair Saunders’ research focuses on the dynamic relationship between emotion and self-control. Emotions can have either detrimental or beneficial influences on self-control, depending critically upon the context in which emotion arises, or the relevancy of such affect to goal-directed behaviour. In one line of his research, Blair investigates the instrumental role of negative affect in the initiation of self-control after unexpected challenges to performance, such as response conflict or errors. A second aspect of Blair’s research concerns the impact of goal-irrelevant emotion as a potent source of environmental distraction during effortful performance. Finally, Blair is interested in the role of personality, disposition, and mood states in determining whether negative affect is met with the adaptive up-regulation of control, or catastrophic over-reactions that ultimately have deleterious consequences for on-going behaviour. In pursuit of these research goals, Blair uses both reaction time analyses and electroencephalography (e.g., ERPs) to study the impact of event history on the behavioural and neurophysiological correlates of self-regulation.
Chad Danyluck is interested in the factors that potentiate harmony between members of different social groups. Current lines of research examine: (1) how perceptions of similarity and conflict affect interest in cross-group friendship, (2) how money and money beliefs influence intergroup relations, and (3) the mechanisms through which meditation influences a more positive intergroup contact experience. Chad’s methodological approach is multi-faceted, incorporating self-report, behavioural, psychophysiological and neuroscientific instrumentation as well as dyadic experimental designs. Chad is currently conducting an outside project under the guidance of Michael Inzlicht.
Nathaniel Elkins-Brown’s research explores the involvement of rapid and transient emotions in self-control, self-regulation, and performance-monitoring. Broadly, he tries to understand how moment-to-moment affect facilitates and impedes controlled processes, and how it may be possible to direct this affect in ways that let us cultivate self-control. In one line of research, Nat studies how affective information from task errors and response conflicts impact various control processes, such as error awareness and behavioural adjustments. In a second line of research, he investigates how different strategies for regulating these rapid emotions—such as mindfulness meditation—may bring about their salutary effects on self-control and health. In pursuit of these research goals, Nat makes use of a wide variety of methods, such as reaction time analyses, experience sampling, facial electromyography (EMG), and electroencephalography (e.g., ERPs).
John Eusebio graduated from Western University with an H.BA in Psychology, specializing in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. His primary research interest involves the initiation of cognitive control, and the formation of functional networks to facilitate task performance under varying levels of cognitive load. His research has also expanded into non-conscious areas, such as resting state temporal dynamics, mindfulness, and mind-wandering. John is also interested in neuroplasticity and the role of resting state networks in exploring the brain’s dynamic repertoire.
Amanda Ferguson is interested mindfulness, and the ways in which mindfulness-based therapies can influence emotion regulation and self-control. She's especially curious about the practice of acceptance - what makes an individual more or less likely to accept a state of negative emotion? Which mechanisms are involved, and how are they activated during mindfulness-based practices? Amanda is excited to study these questions throughout her graduate degree.
Zoe Francis’ research looks at self-control, mental fatigue, and personal beliefs. She is particularly interested in examining and improving the methodologies used to study these areas—for example, how to harness repeated-measures designs to study ego depletion—as well as investigating relevant individual differences. Broadly, she aims to use both behavioural and neurophysiological methods to discover underlying processes behind everyday actions and to ultimately understand why people's actions and motivations are so diverse.
Nick Hobson’s primary research interests centre on meaning-making systems, specifically religiosity and its various epistemic and sociocultural drives. A current line of research investigates the effects of synchronized ritual on prosocial and altruistic tendencies using both behavioural and neurophysiological measures (e.g., EEG). Nick is also interested in the cultural transmission and adaptive function of the unique sets of beliefs that underlie various religious ideologies. In working toward such endeavours, he hopes to engage in both proximal and ultimate approaches in order to create a more consilient research framework.
Hause Lin is exploring how we make decisions. Sometimes making decisions feels effortless; other times, we struggle to decide—so how do we choose and decide when faced with multiple options? Are there neural correlates of decision conflict and uncertainty, and can these correlates tell us anything about how and when our brains choose to choose? Hause hopes to use a multi-method approach to study decision-making processes.
Flavia Freitas Melcop Cardozo
Volunteer Research Assistants
Flavia Freitas Melcop Cardozo
Timour Al-Khindi (M.D./Ph.D. student, Johns Hopkins University)
Belle Derks (professor, Utrecht University, the Netherlands)
Marie Good (assistant professor, Redeemer University College)
Jennifer Gutsell (assistant professor, Brandeis University)
Jacob Hirsh (assistant professor, University of Toronto, Rotman Business School)
Sonia Kang (assistant professor, University of Toronto Mississauga, Rotman Business School)
Lisa Legault (assistant professor, Clarkson University)
Marina Milyavskaya (assistant professor, Carleton University)
Vincent Pillaud (assistant professor, University of Caen, Normandy, France)
Jessica Remedios (assistant professor, Tufts University)
Achala Rodrigo (Ph.D. student, University of Toronto)
Rimma Teper (quantitative consultant, Style Couture)
Shona Tritt (clinical psychologist)
Alexa Tullett (assistant professor, University of Alabama)
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- anterior cingulate cortex
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In an essay published in the Conversation, Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht, and William Cunningham discuss the nature of empathy, specifically asking if empathy has limits. In the essay, which is part book review of Paul Bloom's Against Empathy, Michael and his co-authors suggest that limits to empathy are more apparent than real; these apparent limits are not built into empathy itself, but reflect the choices we make. These so-called limits, in other words, result from general trade-offs that people make as they balance some goals against others.
Harvard Business Review discusses the changing landscape of research on self-control, including covering work by Michael Inzlicht, who suggests that self-control is not similar to a fuel tank that becomes emptied with use. Instead, Michael suggests that self-control is better understood as a motivational construct, with features that make it resemble an emotion.
Michael Inzlicht talks to Science for the People about what bad science looks like, why good scientists with good intentions often use techniques of bad science in their work, and how we may be unintentionally selecting for bad science over good science in our culture.
- Joshua Aronson, New York University
- Avi Ben-Zeev, San Francisco State University
- Bruce Bartholow, University of Missouri
- Elliot Berkman, University of Oregon
- Kirk Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University
- Daryl Cameron
- Belle Derks, Utrecht University
- Jennifer Gutsell, Brandeis University
- Eddie Harmon-Jones, University of New South Wales
- Steven Heine, University of British Columbia
- Jacob Hirsh, University of Toronto
- Sonia Kang, University of Toronto
- Michael Larson
- Lisa Legault, Clarkson University
- Ian McGregor, York University
- Sukhvinder Obhi
- Liz Page-Gould, University of Toronto
- Greg Hajcak Proudfit, Stony Brook University
- Travis Proulx, Tilburg University
- Toni Schmader, University of British Columbia
- Brandon Schmeichel, Texas A&M University
- Zindel Segal
- Shona Tritt, New York University
- Alexa Tullett, University of Alabama
University of Toronto
- Association for Psychological Science
- Canadian Psychological Association
- Canada Foundation for Innovation
- International Social Cognition Network
- International Society for Research on Emotion
- National Academy of Education
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
- Social and Affective Neuroscience Society
- Social Psychology Network
- Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
- Society for Personality and Social Psychology
- Society for Psychophysiological Research
- Spencer Foundation