News

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    DevDivLab PhD student David Ruttenberg has been busy conveying, speaking and attending various conferences and workshops including the UCL Centre for Doctoral Education (CDE) Summer Conference 2020 as lead-off presenter for the SensorAble project. Additionally, the Centre for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at Florida Atlantic University invited David to address their Board of Directors regarding SensorAble’s Participant Public Information study. Lastly, the Artificial Intelligence for Prostate Cancer (AI4PCa) – a joint workshop between the University of Toronto and UCL – invited David to present on “Artificial Intelligence and Decision Support for Cancer Patients”.

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    Our lab welcomes three lovely summer students who will join our lab for 8 weeks.

    Begum (2nd year Psychologist, UCL), Mizuki (2nd year Psychologist, UCL) and Oliwia (2nd year Medic, University of Oxford) will be working on various projects in our lab, helping out with our new and temporary norm – remote testing! Although they join us in a not so typical lab environment, we hope they enjoy their time and pick up some useful skills.

    Welcome Begum, Mizuki and Oliwia!

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    Back in March, the country went into lockdown to help our NHS battle COVID-19. Since then, the DevDivLab has been spread across continents, and our meetings have all moved to Zoom. But that has not slowed us down! The Lab is still moving forward with projects as we are learning how to fully operate online.

    We are looking forward to UCL re-opening and being back in our building, but in the meantime, we hope everyone is well, and stays safe!

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    UCL’s Institute of Education recently conducted an interview with DDL member David Ruttenberg in which he addresses his research and supervisors Prof Kaśka Porayska-Pomsta, Dr Joni Holmes and DDL Director Dr Sarah White .

    I do hope that this promotion helps emphasize the importance and stature of UCL’s work toward developmental diversity. It is an equally great “get” for the Centre for Doctoral Education, the Culture, Communication and Media department, the Knowledge Lab and UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, and in particular, the Development Diversity Lab. I enjoy promoting our leaders and colleagues whenever and wherever possible. Congratulations to David and all at the DDL!

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    Kat and Jo published their paper An observational study of social interaction skills and behaviors in Cornelia de Lange, fragile X and Ruinstein-Taybi syndromes in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. This paper described the profile of strengths and weaknesses in behaviours indicative of social interaction skills, social enjoyment, social motivation and social discomfort to characterise sociability in genetic syndromes and explore whether these skills are associated with age and autistic traits.

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    The National Institute for Health Research—UK’s largest funder of health and care research—recently awarded one of two grants to David Ruttenberg to carry out Patient Public Involvement (PPI) research for the SensorAble project on Adaptive Wearable Appropriateness as an Autistic intervention. This award is made possible through the generous support of the University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre. You can learn more about that SensorAble project here at the project website. Congratulations to David and all at the DDL!

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    We are excited to announce that our lab leader, Sarah White, has been awarded a Royal Society Enhancement award to study in-group v/s out-group effects in mentalizing — the ability to use other’s mental states such as beliefs, desires and intentions, to predict their behaviour.

    The study will investigate how your mentalizing ability is influenced when another person is similar or dissimilar to you. The project will therefore investigate if there is any difference in how autistic and neurotypical individuals mentalize when another person is more or less similar to them.

    Malwina, our research assistant, will be taking a lead on this project. If you are interested in learning more, please send Malwina an email!

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    We’re delighted that Ruihan has been transferred from the degree of MPhil to that of PhD with her study on “Effects of compensation on mentalizing and mental health in the broader autism phenotype”. Congratulations Ruihan!

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    Ceci published her first paper Modulation of humor ratings of bad jokes by other people’s laughter in Current Biology in July 2019.

    By adding laughter in front of bad ‘Dad’ jokes, the jokes were perceived to be funnier. And the kind of laughter had a further effect on the funniness of the jokes. Spontaneous ‘real’ laughs made jokes even funnier than adding posed ‘fake’ laughter. Also, we found the same modulation of funniness by laughter in autistic adults.

    This paper received a high amount of media attention.

    And it was the most read paper on the Current Biology website

    Read more about this paper and about Ceci in a report from the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS).

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    After her MSc, Karen stayed on in the DevDivLab to help with filming some new stimuli, programming the eyetracker and collecting pilot data. In December, it was time for Karen to head home to Singapore, so the DevDivLab had a meal out at a traditional Singaporean restaurant. Very best wishes for the future, Karen!