The annual assembly of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society final month introduced collectively greater than 1,000 attendees from everywhere in the world, however three younger researchers have been noticeably absent. Solely one of many 4 recipients of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (JoCN) Journey Fellowship was capable of make it to the assembly, attributable to pandemic-related backlogs at US consulate workplaces. Whereas the fellows from the College of Delhi in India, Sabanci College in Turkey, and the Heart for Neurosciences of Cuba have been unable to attend, the man from Macquarie College in Australia was there to signify.
It was really Sophie Smit’s first-ever worldwide convention and first time leaving Australia in three years due to the pandemic. “Naturally I used to be tremendous excited and in addition a little bit nervous to go to California and meet researchers from this a part of the world,” she says. “However it was not solely a enjoyable expertise but additionally a really helpful one, because it helped me consolidate and broaden my analysis concepts by speaking to different teachers with novel views and insights.”
Smit’s analysis, which gained her the fellowship and which she offered at CNS 2022, regarded on the neural underpinnings of “tactile empathy,” feeling contact noticed on one other individual. “For instance, in case you watch a video of a hand being tickled by a feather, you would possibly really feel that very same tickle by yourself hand,” Smit explains.
Smit got interested within the subject attributable to her personal disposition to strongly empathize with the feelings and experiences of the folks round her. “It has all the time been fascinating to me that not all people appears to take action,” she says, and so she wished to reply the query: “What differs throughout brains that would drive such a large spectrum of experiences?”
With colleagues, Smit got down to check the speculation that tactile empathy is linked to overlapping neural representations between feeling and observing contact. Utilizing machine studying strategies, the researchers analyzed whole-brain electroencephalography (EEG) recordings whereas individuals noticed movies of a hand being touched or straight felt contact to their very own hand.
“We discovered that solely in folks with excessive tactile empathy, visually perceived contact evokes a really related illustration as straight feeling that contact,” she says. “That is an thrilling discovering as a result of it supplies a hyperlink between the exact mapping of self and others within the mind and the subjective expertise of tactile empathy.”
Smit is grateful to have had the chance via the fellowship to attend CNS 2022 and hopes that those that couldn’t make it this yr can attend sooner or later. She is particularly grateful for the outreach from JoCN Editor-in-Chief Brad Postle and people from CNS Trainee Affiliation who helped earlier than and throughout the convention.
-Lisa M.P. Munoz