Samuel Sparks

I joined the UQ PandA Lab for an undergraduate research scholarship in 2010, and I am now working on a PhD under the supervision of Dr Ada Kritikos and Professor Virginia Slaughter.

My up-to-date publication list is available on my ResearchGate profile, along with slides and poster PDFs for conference presentations whenever possible.

My main interests are object ownership, action observation, and most recently, the interplay of cultural experience and cognition.

I would be delighted to discuss my research and/or possible collaboration by email. In particular, I would like to collaborate with researchers with access to large samples of non-Western participants.

samemailObject Ownership and the Self – PhD Theme

My PhD project investigates ownership-related cognition and behaviour. I am interested in how ownership over objects influences, and is influenced by, perception, attention, memory, and affect. In particular, I focus on how cultural experience and self-representation interact with ownership within these systems.

In addition to my supervisors, I collaborate with Dr Andrew Bayliss from UEA on this project.

Action Observation, Motor Priming & Automatic Imitation

Starting with my first project in the lab as an undergraduate, I have investigated factors that contribute to and constrain motor priming and motor contagion, including attention, social context, attributions of animacy and intentionality, and individual differences in cognitive and affective empathy. I am interested in what these factors and constraints inform us about the extent to which motor priming is a form of automatic imitation.

In this stream of research, I have worked with PandA Lab alumni Tegan Schulz and Rebecca Scott, and current lab members Maxwell Williams and Morgan Sidari.

Embodied Ownership in Children

During 2013 I worked with as a research assistant with Dr Kritikos, Prof. Slaughter, Dr Andrew Bayliss, and Associate Professor Kate Sofronoff on the ARC Discovery Project, “Yours and mine: Development of the concept of ownership in typical children and those on the autism spectrum.” This project is a collaboration between the UQ Early Cognitive Development Centre, Dr Bayliss, and UQ PandA Lab to investigate the development of ownership representations and behaviours. In particular, it focuses on embodiment of ownership and ownership representation in children on the autism spectrum. In 2014, we set up a new laboratory with a Qualisys Oqus motion capture camera system and developed and piloted a paradigm for children 18 months and older. After handing over this role to Jessica Lister in 2014 to focus on my PhD, I have continued to collaborate with the team on this project.

Teaching Experience – Neuroscience for Psychology Undergraduates

I have been on the tutoring and course development team for PSYC2020: Neuroscience for Psychologists since 2013. I am passionate about communicating cognitive and social neuroscience to undergraduates, and take a particular interest in providing students the opportunity to participate in and interact with ongoing cognitive science research during the course. During the course, which typically consists of 300-400 students, we run one large experiment per semester and publish the results whenever possible. Students discuss the results in class and write a lab report based on the experiment, and I have been delighted to see students’ interest in cognitive science grow as they interact with real data.

 

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