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On Friday 29 September hundreds of researchers took to Oxford’s streets, gardens, museums and libraries to take part in the Curiosity Carnival, an event which celebrated and debated the way that research affects all our lives. Part of European Researcher’s Night, it was one of hundreds of events taking place across Europe.

Experimental Psychology was very well represented, with researchers showcasing their research on many different topics in many different ways!

Here are just a few of the activities researchers from this department were involved with:

Bronwyn Tarr ran a Curious School of Dance showcasing her's and Robin Dunbar's work on music, dance and social bonding. The session explored how human-kind's very first instrument would have been our own bodies, with our ancestors stamping and clapping and singing the first melodies and rhythms. This paved the way to our modern-day experiences moving together to music, during which when we share in rhythms with each other we can experience profound psychological and physiological effects that help bond us together and create a collective 'high'.

Charlotte Booth, Annabel Songco and Maud Grol took to the streets of Oxford to showcase the OCEAN Lab's research on 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 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. 

Oxford BabyLab researchers Samuel Forbes, Irina Lepadatu, Marlene Spangenberg and Amanda Griffin joined forces with Gaia Scerif, Karla Holmboe, Jacalyn Guy, Megan von Spreckelsen and Annelot Mills from the ABCD Research Group to tell people about their work. BabyLab staff were at hand to explain methods and studies run in the Oxford Babylab. Members of the public were also invited to try an iPad based experiment run by the ABCD Lab. This was a great success, with everyone from age 3 to 70 taking part.

Mihaela Duta and Chrystalina Antoniades (NDCN) ran a stand testing reaction times using various stimuli. They tested a new app that they have been developing, involving both visual and auditory stimuli. They also used traditional reaction time rulers and device. Chrystalina said: 'Events such as this highlight the importance of interacting with the public and thinking about the implications of your work at a larger scale'.

Finally, bravo to FMRIB and OHBA members, who debuted their play '21st Century Phrenology' at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, covering two centuries of neuroscience in 30 minutes!


"The Curiosity Carnival is another first for Oxford. We are delighted to have this opportunity to showcase our world leading research, and engage with the community on projects that will shape all our futures." - Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford