About me

Rebecca Geiselmann

I obtained a B.Sc. in Liberal Arts and Sciences (Life Sciences and Psychology Major) at the University College Freiburg and an M.Sc. in Cognitive Neurosciences at the University of Amsterdam. Over the past few years, I contributed to research projects at the ‚MetaMotor‘ lab at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neurosciences Berlin, the ‚Sleep and Cognition‘ lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences, and the ‚Boundaries of Social Cognition Lab‘ at UCL, London. Outside of academia, I have been involved in (science) communication projects, coaching, and teaching in countries like the US, Argentina, India, and Thailand. As a Ph.D. student at the CVBE lab, I aim to continue researching the neuro-cognitive underpinnings of social interactions, including interactions with non-human agents. More specifically, I am interested in the effects of the social context on the perception of agency. I thereby intend to combine theory and approaches from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. 

Areas of interest:
Flexible social cognition, interactions with non-human agents, action representation, joint perception, (EEG) hyperscanning, science communication

I am working on:

Joint perception of agency: 

One of the main cues for humans to identify an entity as animate is its agency. However, sometimes people ascribe agency to ontologically non-animate entities, such as social robots. I aim to investigate the perception of agency and whether the social context affects this process. More specifically, how the percept of agency changes when perceiving an autonomous entity jointly compared to perceiving it alone. 

Interacting with AI:

While AI simulates a range of human-like features, its ontological status anchors them as machines or non-human agents. Nevertheless, ontology matters less for society and ethics than how AI appears to people. Therefore, I intend to examine whether people also perceive, understand, predict, and manipulate AI like non-human agents or integrate it within the socio-cognitive and interactive repertoire reserved for humans.

The multi-sensory maze:

Together with Prof. Ophelia Deroy and colleagues, I am curating and coordinating a science communication installation on multi-sensory illusions 

I have worked on:

Dehumanisation: 

Dehumanisation – perceiving others as less than human- can lead to reduced motivation to help deprived outgroups. However, in certain social contexts, dehumanisation can be beneficial, for example in economic context. In other words, we are all constantly required to switch between a humanised and a dehumanised orientation towards others to adapt to changing social contexts. Together with Prof. Lasana Harris and colleagues, I investigated the neural underpinnings underlying this switch using EEG, fMRI, and behavioural responses. 

Publications

Geiselmann, R., Tsourgianni, A., Deroy, O., & Harris, L. T. (2023). Interacting with agents without a mind: the case for artificial agents. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 51, 101282.