“I’m a Researcher” Live Final at the Curiosity Carnival

While some of the OCEAN Lab hosted a games stall “Do you see what I see?” on Broad Street, our own Sam Parsons was participating in the live final of “I’m a Researcher, Get me out of here!” During the event, students and their parents were able to interact with the 5 researchers that had won the most votes throughout September and ask their questions in person. We had lively conversations about how our research gets published, what our most exciting findings were, and how our research can help the world. Congratulations to Priyanka Dhopade who won and donated the winnings to a charity that works towards encouraging girls into STEM subjects. Although Sam didn’t achieve the winning vote, he is keen to follow on from “I’m a Researcher” and continue his blog/podcast regularly to answer more students questions and to talk about the realities of being a researcher.

Find out more on his blog post here…

 

Fun day at the Curiosity Carnival!

The OCEAN Lab had a fantastic time at the Curiosity Carnival, which took place on Friday 29th September. Maud Grol, Annabel Songco and Charlotte Booth took to the streets of Oxford to showcase the labs research and speak to the public about cognitive biases. They hosted a games stall on Broad street, which was called “Do you see what I see?” and included three different games to introduce the concepts of i) attention bias, ii) interpretation bias and iii) memory bias. The attention bias game required groups of the public to find the happy or angry “face in the crowd” on specially made posters as fast as they could. The interpretation bias game asked people to imagine a picture in their head associated with a list of ambiguous words, after which they were shown pictures to represent the different interpretations people have. For example the word “Bark” – could be interpreted as either tree bark (neutral interpretation) or dog bark (threatening interpretation). The memory bias game involved showing people a poster with many different healthy and unhealthy foods for 30 seconds, after which they were asked to write down as many items as they could remember. Remembering more of one category would indicate a bias towards healthy or unhealthy foods. The games were very well received and introduced the idea that we all see the world differently, as we all have filters or biases in our cognition. This sparked many interesting discussions on why we develop these biases and under which conditions these might be helpful or sometimes unhealthy. All in all, It was a truly fascinating event and great opportunity to share scientific research with the public. Looking forward to the next one!

 

Upcoming Curiosity Carnival

On the 29th of September the streets and museums of Oxford will be bustling with activity for the Curiosity Carnival which is an exciting opportunity for the public to engage with Oxford scientists from all disciplines. The University of Oxford was ranked top for world-leading research in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF, 2014). The Curiosity Carnival will be a chance to meet these world-class researchers and hear about their fascinating research in a slightly different way – through games stalls, live experiments, and snappy to-the-point talks. The OCEAN Lab will be presenting a games stall on Broad Street, which will include fun games to engage the public with getting to know their own cognitive biases. Come down to check us out – our event is FREE to attend!

Find out more…

Oxford Town and Gown 10k

This year the OCEAN Lab participated in the Oxford 10k Town and Gown race, which is an annual event that raises money in aid of the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK. The ‘OCEAN’s Eleven’ team did a fantastic job on the day, navigating the 10km route around the scenic parks and rivers of Oxford. Well done to those who beat their personal bests! A great team effort for an amazing cause!

Find out more…

 

MQ: Transforming Mental Health 2017

Elaine Fox, Sam Parsons, and Annabel Songco presented at MQ’s Annual Science Meeting, which was held in London in February 2017. The two day event brought together leading experts from across the world of mental health research, from a diverse range of disciplines, to discuss how innovative research can drive improvements to outcomes and inform policy to bring about changes. It was an inspiring event with valuable insights into the latest developments in mental health research.

Find out more…

 

Merry Christmas from the OCEAN Lab

This year we celebrated the festive season with a delicious Christmas feast at a local pub. In 2016, we welcomed to the OCEAN Lab team – Sam Hall-McMaster who joined as a DPhil student, Alex Temple McCune who joined as a Masters student, and two visiting students from the Netherlands. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and we look forward to an exciting year ahead!

 

Cognitive Bias Symposium

The OCEAN Lab recently hosted an exciting symposium at the Department of Experimental Psychology in Oxford to discuss the latest developments in Cognitive Bias research. The symposium featured talks from international guest speakers – Dr Patrick Clarke (University of Western Australia), Dr Lies Notebaert (University of Western Australia), Dr Janna Vrijsen (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands), Cliodhna O’Connor (University College Dublin), Dr Desiree Spronk (University of Oxford), and Sam Parsons (University of Oxford). The day was filled with fascinating discussions around our common interest of cognitive biases and it was a great opportunity to hear about the different research findings from around the globe. Thank you to all the speakers and guests for joining us and we look forward to the next symposium!

Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience

OCEAN Lab Away Day

We recently went on an OCEAN Lab Away Day to the beautiful region of the Cotswolds. This special day was a nice opportunity for the group to spend some time together, share ideas, discuss potential collaborations, and most importantly have some fun! We started the day off by having some morning tea and coffee in the picturesque village of Great Tew, followed by a small hike around the scenic rolling hills and grasslands of the countryside. We then enjoyed lunch at a charming 16th century traditional pub with delicious food and a wonderful cosy atmosphere. We had many interesting and fruitful discussions about cross-cutting projects and collaborations across the group, as well as brainstorming some innovative research ideas for upcoming events. We finished off the day at the Soho Farmhouse, a country club, where the team enjoyed lots of fun outdoor and indoor activities, and could relax and unwind in a nice setting. All in all it was a fantastic day and a great way for the team to spend some time together!

 

Cotswolds2     Cotswolds3

Cotswolds1

The Why Factor: Fear vs. Fact

Elaine features in the BBC World Service’s latest instalment of The Why Factor. In the episode – entitled Fear vs. Fact – presenter Mike Williams asks if we now live in a post-factual age — where messages of fear dominate and the truth goes unspoken or unheard. He investigates the ‘Backfire Effect’ which means that entrenched views can become more entrenched when confronted by contradictory facts. Elaine comments: ‘Fear is a very powerful emotion – I guess the first thing to remember is the reason all of us are here is because our ancestors had very effective threat detective systems.’

Find out more…

the why factor

 

Publication: The contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing

Elaine and Chris Beevers recently published a paper in Molecular Psychiatry that discusses how some genes can make people more sensitive to the effects of their environment – for better and for worse – leading to both mental ill health and enhanced mental resilience. They suggest that the same genes that make us prone to depression could also make us prone to positivity. Find out more…

 

The paper, Differential sensitivity to the environment: contribution of cognitive biases and genes to psychological wellbeing, was published in Molecular Psychiatry on 19 July (doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.114).