ECL Speaker Series (2020)

Marvin or Terminator? The role of empathy in depression and aggression

Speaker: Alexander Sumich
Date: 1/12/2020
Empathy, the capacity to share emotions or viewpoints of others to attain interpersonal reciprocity, can be a double-edged sword in relation to psychological wellbeing. Affective empathy is implicated as a mechanism inhibiting maladaptive aggression, yet dysregulated sharing of another’s emotional pain can exacerbate depression. On the other hand, being able to understand someone else’s emotions (without necessarily feeling them) or appreciating other perspectives (requiring cognitive flexibility) is the cornerstone of psychological resilience, protecting from both depressive and antisocial disorders.
The current talk presents on some of the work from our lab on the role of empathy in depression and interpersonal aggression, and underpinning biological mechanisms (blood, guts and brains). Closely linked with this is the personality construct of psychopathy which is typically associated with poor empathy and increased risk for aggression. However, what happens when psychopathy meets empathy? We have discovered a novel psychological construct characterised by high empathy and dark traits: the Dark Empath which will be described relative to personality, aggression, and wellbeing.

Watch on Youtube
Dr Alex Sumich completed his initial training in Psychology at University of Auckland and doctoral studies at Kings College London, Institute of Psychiatry. Currently, he is Associate Professor at Nottingham Trent University and Adjunct Professor at Auckland University of Technology. He leads the Affect, Personality and Embodied Brain Research Group, in the Centre for Behavioural Research Methods. His work investigates cognitive and affective traits that influence our behaviour, particularly regarding biological underpinnings and application to understanding and treating psychopathology.

Combining BCI with Virtual/Augmented Reality: toward hybrid technologies and novel immersive applications

Speaker: Anatole Lécuyer
Date: 23/11/2020
In this talk we will present our research path on Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI). We will first evoke the great success of OpenViBE, a software dedicated to BCI research used today all over the world, notably with VR systems. Then, we will illustrate how BCI and virtual reality technologies can be combined to design novel 3D interactions and effective applications, e.g. for health, sport, entertainment, or training.

Watch on Youtube
Anatole Lécuyer is Senior Researcher and Head of Hybrid research team, at Inria, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, in Rennes, France. His research interests include virtual reality, haptic interaction, 3D user interfaces, and brain-computer interfaces. He regularly serves as expert in Virtual Reality and BCI for public bodies such as European Commission (EC), European Research Council (ERC), or French National Research Agency (ANR).
He is currently Associate Editor of "IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics", “Frontiers in Virtual Reality” and “Presence” journals. He was Program Chair of IEEE Virtual Reality Conference (2015-2016) and General Chair of IEEE Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (2017) and IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces (2012-2013). He is author or co-author of more than 200 scientific publications. Anatole Lécuyer obtained the Inria-French Academy of Sciences Young Researcher Prize in 2013, and the IEEE VGTC Technical Achievement Award in Virtual/Augmented Reality in 2019 .

A New Vision for a Better Reality

Speaker: Thomas Furness
Date: 13/11/2020
Virtual reality is emerging as a vital teaching tool of our age. Much of the seminal research in this field has been led by UW Professor Tom Furness over the 54 years of his professional career. As an original pioneer of virtual and augmented reality technology Tom is widely known as the ‘grandfather’ of virtual reality. In his talk Tom will share the lessons learned during the development of VR and its application. He will focus on the need for reimagining education and his efforts to create a new learning environment for home through the Virtual World Society.

Watch on Youtube
Tom Furness is an amalgam of Professor, Inventor and Entrepreneur in a professional career that spans 54 years. In addition to his contributions in photonics, electro-optics, and human interface technology, he is an original pioneer of virtual and augmented reality technology and widely known as the ‘grandfather’ of virtual reality. Tom is currently a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering with adjunct professorships in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington (UW), Seattle, Washington, USA. He is the founder of the family of Human Interface Technology Laboratories at the University of Washington, Christchurch, New Zealand and Tasmania, Australia. He is the founder and chairman of the Virtual World Society, a non-profit for extending virtual reality as a learning system for families and other humanitarian applications. His current research interests include exploring the functionality of peripheral vision at large eccentricities and investigations into photon emission from the retina. Tom and his students/colleagues have spun off 27 companies with an aggregate market capitalization of ~$10B. He is a Fellow of the IEEE.