Allison’s work is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from communication and media psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience. Her research and teaching are in the areas of media psychology, media entertainment, and individual processing of media. In addition to these topics, she also supervise thesis work in persuasion and marketing.
Richard (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at UC Davis, principle investigator in the Cognitive Communication Science Lab, researcher in the Computational Communication Research Lab, affiliated faculty member at the Center for Mind and Brain, and an affiliated faculty member in the Designated Emphasis in Computational Social Science. He studies how motivation influences the attitudes people hold, and the behaviors they adopt. He researches these questions using a variety of methodological techniques including: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), computational methods, and lab-based experiments.
Chris Cascio is an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin. His research uses tools from communication studies and social neuroscience to understand when and how persuasion works. Specifically, his research focuses on neurocognitive mechanisms associated with social influence and persuasive messages delivered through mass media and interpersonal communication in order to better understand subsequent behavior. More specifically, his research aims to: 1) understand the core mechanisms that drive behavior change in response to social influence and persuasive messages; 2) understand how situational social context (e.g., being in the presence of a risky versus safe peer), socio-demographic context factors (e.g., high versus low socioeconomic status (SES)), and development (e.g., adolescents versus young adults) moderate neural mechanisms associated with social influence and persuasion; and 3) understand how intervention strategies (e.g., self-affirmations) alter neural mechanisms associated with social influence and persuasion, and how these changes relate to behavior change.
Jason is broadly interested in understanding how and why people make political decisions in the manner that they do. His research examines how the media environment, in combination with psychological processes, influences political decision making. His approach is interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together concepts and data from behavioral, psychological, and neurobiological levels of analysis. He uses a combination of techniques including event-related potentials, eye movement monitoring, and tDCS to examine the psychological processes that underlie political decision making. The overall goal of this research program is to understand the informational environments and psychological mechanisms that foster or inhibit people’s capacities to make sound decisions in a democracy.
My research examines the role of social interactions between individuals in the diffusion of information and the development of large-scale message effects in the context of health-related outcomes. To understand the complex interplay between social forces and message effects, I tailor multi-methodological approaches including neuroscientific methods like fMRI and social science techniques such as observational geolocation tracking, field experimentation, and survey methods to capture both detailed psychological mechanisms and real-world behavior. Using these methods, I have studied, among others, the neural and psychological mechanisms of decisions to share health-related information with others, the role played by these mechanisms in population-level sharing behavior, and the relationship between neural message processing and real-world effects of interpersonal communication on drinking behavior. Current projects focus on questions such as: How do interpersonal communication and social relationships influence the effectiveness of population-level health messaging and how can we design messages that optimize these social processes?; How does neural coupling between those who share information and their receivers impact the diffusion of information and the development population-level message effects?; What is the effect of repeated, real-world exposure to smoking cues on smoker’s cigarette craving and neural cue reactivity?
Student and Early Career Representative
Jacob is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a researcher in the Media Neuroscience Lab. Starting Fall 2020, he will be joining the College of Media at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jacob’s work investigates the influence of structural and content features in digital environments on motivated attention and goal-directed behavior. He primarily uses computational, behavioral, and fMRI methods.
Emily is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. Prof. Falk employs a variety of methods drawn from communication science, neuroscience and psychology. Her work traverses levels of analysis from individual behavior, to diffusion in group and population level media effects. In particular, Prof. Falk is interested in predicting behavior change following exposure to persuasive messages and in understanding what makes successful ideas spread (e.g. through social networks, through cultures). Prof. Falk is also interested in developing methods to predict the efficacy of persuasive communication at the population level. At present, much of her research focuses on health communication, including recent work exploring neural predictors of increased sunscreen use, neural predictors of smoking reduction, and linking neural responses to health messages to population level behavioral outcomes; other areas of interest include political communication, cross-cultural communication, and the spread of culture, social norms and sticky ideas. Prof. Falk’s work has been funded by NCI, NICHD, NIDA/the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, ARL, DARPA and ONR. Prior to her doctoral work, Prof. Falk was a Fulbright Fellow in health policy, studying health communication in Canada. She received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Brown University, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Through his substantial and prolific record of research in the area of media neuroscience, René Weber has made important contributions to the field of communication. His research program focuses on complex cognitive responses to mass communication, video games, and new technology media messages. He has earned both the Ph.D. in Media Psychology and an M.D. in Psychiatry and Cognitive Neuroscience, providing him with a key combination of training in support of his development of theories that help us better understand the dynamic interactions between the human brain and mediated messages. He was the first communication scholar to regularly use fMRI methodologies to investigate a series of different media effects, from the impact of violence in video games to the effectiveness of anti-drug PSAs. He has published four books and more than 110 journal articles and book chapters (May, 2018). His research has been supported by grants from national scientific foundations in the United States and Germany, as well as through private philanthropies and industry contracts. The international significance of work is evidenced by several top paper awards, and “Outstanding Article” awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Advertising Research Foundation. He has been a high-profile public representative for communication science within the academy and the general public. He is on the editorial board of several top-tier communication and neuroscience journals. He was founder of the International Communication Association’s Communication Science and Biology Interest Group and served as its first Chair, helping to develop a sense of community among its members. He also served as Vice Chair/Chair of ICA’s Mass Communication Division.