Title: Linking body movement analysis and brain activity

Date: 29 May 2024


Survival prompts organisms to rapidly prepare adaptive behavior in response to environmental and social circumstances, including threat. The rapidity and automaticity of those responses indicate that the brain is exquisitely tuned to extract social information online from ongoing observation of social behavior. This requires sorting out what to keep as critical information for adaptive action and what to disregard as of secondary importance. Such rapid analysis of perceptual input is presumably independent of higher-order cognition and consciousness. So far little is understood about what the specific features of the behavior of a conspecific are that are critical and that trigger, for example, defensive behavior. In this talk we will review recent studies that have attempted to use computational methods to analyses body posture and whole body movements. We will then illustrate how the results from the computational analyses and the features that are proposed  may be related to brain activity. Our discussion will address the promises and limits of developing optimal measurement tools for social behavior that can be used for unravelling social brain processes and deficits in neurological populations.


Beatrice de Gelder is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and a member of the Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (M-BIC).   Prior to her current assignments, she was a Senior Scientist at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard University. She received an MA in Philosophy, an MA in Experimental Psychology and a PhD in Philosophy from Louvain University in Belgium. Her current research focuses on face and body recognition and, recently, on the neuroscience of art. Her research has resulted in over 250 peer-reviewed articles and 25 invited chapters. She has authored or co-authored four professional books including her book on “Emotions and the Body”, Oxford University Press (2016). Popular contributions include an invited article in Scientific American expanding on the broad impact of her work on unconscious vision (2010, updated in 2017) and in July 2011, Discovery Channel Science covered her work on nonconscious vision in the program “Through the Wormhole.” She serves on the editorial board of several professional journals and is/has been a member of several advisory panels of the European Commission for FET,  ICT and ERC programs, and the NIH and NSF. She coordinated various EC grants in FP6 and FP7 and is a partner in two H2020 consortia. She was the recipient of an ERC grant in 2012 and co-recipient of an ERC Synergy grant in 2019. Extensive documentation at www.beatricedegelder.com

Categories: Keynotes