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You can volunteer to help with the department's research in two ways:

Take part in an experiment

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Volunteer as a research assistant

Below is a list of projects within the department that students can get involved in as a volunteer research assistant. Please contact the person in charge to volunteer for the task and get further information. The list of projects will be updated periodically.

Effects of hand posture in a tactile localisation task

  • Contact: Luigi Tamè or Matthew Longo
  • We would welcome assistance with a study we are working on investigating the role of hand posture in a localisation task of tactile stimuli on the fingers. Typically changes in posture affect the way in which we localise tactile stimuli on our body. For instance, when we have to localise tactile stimuli on different side of the body (e.g. the two hands) our performance varies as a function of the body posture. However, whether the same postural modulatory effects also occur when stimuli occur only on one side of the body (i.e. within the same hand) is unclear. This project investigates the potential influence that postural changes can have on tactile localisation of stimuli on the fingers of the same hand. Assisting with the study would involve recruiting and running participants on the experimental procedure. This would be an excellent opportunity to gain experimental research skills. The project requires a commitment of at least 30 hours.

Investigating the bilateral transfer of a tactile distance aftereffect

  • Contact: Elena Calzolari or Matthew Longo
  • The perception of the spatial distance between objects touching the skin is affected and altered by distortions in the body maps in the brain. In a series of experiments we are investigating how the brain encodes and processes tactile distances on the back of the hand. In particular, we are studying how a previous exposure to a certain distance between pairs of tactile stimuli (the so-called ‘adaptation’) affects the perception of a subsequent stimulus (‘aftereffect’). In line with previous results in the visual and haptic domains, we found that after prolonged exposure to different distances delivered on the dorsum of the hands, a subsequent pair of stimuli is perceived illusionary bigger than the actual size, when the adaptor was smaller, and vice-versa. In this experiment we want to investigate the possible transfer of this aftereffect in different body parts.

Media communications experience at the Birkbeck Babylab

  • Contact: The Babylab
  • At the Birkbeck Babylab, we offer volunteer experience for students interested in media and communications within a psychology research setting. The Babylab recruits hundreds of families every year to take part in our studies and our publications receive media coverage not only in the UK but internationally as well. Therefore we are looking for a student who would like to gain more experience in running advertising campaigns, maintaining public relations and writing press releases.
  • We request that you be available 1-2 days per week, but we are also interested in arranging placements during the summer break. Please note that some days will be spent working out of office. If you would like to apply please send your cover letter, a CV, and a written reference to babylab@bbk.ac.uk
  • We look forward to hearing from you.

Perceptual distortions of touch and Weber's illusion, with Professor Matthew Longo

  • Contact: Matthew Longo
  • I would welcome assistance with a study I am working on investigating how distortions of body maps in the brain (the so-called 'Penfield Homunculus') affect our sense of touch. An illusion first described by E. H. Weber in the 19th century shows that objects touching the skin are perceived as bigger when touching a sensitive skin surface (such as that hand), compared to a less sensitive skin surface (such as the forehead). This project is investigating the perceptual and neural mechanisms underlying this effect.
  • Assisting with the study would involve recruiting and running participants on the experimental procedure, as well as organisation and analysis of the data using Excel, and SPSS software. This would be an excellent opportunity to gain experimental research skills. The project requires a commitment of at least 40 hours.

Student volunteer experience at the Birkbeck Babylab

  • Contact: Sarah Kalwarowsky
  • At the Birkbeck Babylab, CBCD, we study how babies learn and develop, particularly during the first two years of life. Using a variety of research methods such as ERP, EEG, NIRs and eye-tracking, we answer questions such as how do babies learn to understand what other people think.
  • Students can apply to volunteer on short-term projects at the Babylab to work alongside researchers and PhD students with expertise in infant research. Specific duties may include helping to test infant or child participants using a variety of methods, recruitment and scheduling of participants, coding of data, and literature searches. Students can also benefit from attending reading groups and seminars on various research topics.
  • If you would like to apply, please download the application form and email a completed copy, along with your CV and two written references, to Sarah Kalwarowsky.
  • Application Form

Volunteer at the CINE Lab (Cognition in Naturalistic Environments Lab

  • Contact: Dr Tim J. Smith
  • At the CINE Lab we investigate how humans cognitively process naturalistic audiovisual scenes either in face-to-face scenarios or mediated experiences such as movies and Virtual Reality. We use a variety of methods including behavioural tests, psychophysiology and EEG but with a large focus on eye tracking, both screen-based and head-mounted. If you volunteer at the CINE Lab you will be involved in helping to run experiments with adults and infants as well as assisting in data preparation, coding and analysis. Volunteers must be able to commit to at least one day a week over a prolonged period of time (at least one term).
  • If you would like to apply, please email your CV, a statement about why you are interested in volunteering at the CINE Lab as well as two written references, to Dr Tim J. Smith