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Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science Student Studies Conflict student Alexandra Paxton finds opinionated students, puts them in a room together and tells them to argue about a hot-button issue.

Then she records what happens.

Paxton, who is earning her doctoral degree in cognitive science, studies interpersonal synchrony — the phenomenon of how people in a conversation subconsciously synchronize their movements, such as nodding or gesturing. Specifically, she is seeking to understand what happens to that synchrony when people are at odds.

Impact: Creating More Realistic Virtual Reality Avatars

UC Merced's computer graphics lab, with body sensors, motion-capture cameras, and a giant movie screen is straight out of Hollywood. But instead of producing blockbusters, a group of UC Merced researchers are working to create more realistic human motions for virtual reality avatars. The movements are analyzed to create more lifelike virtual characters, which will have multiple applications.


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