Dr Cook’s work investigates action and social cognition in typically developed adults and those with autism spectrum conditions.

With respect to action Dr Cook and her colleagues have shown that autistic adults move with subtly different kinematics compared to typical controls (Cook, Blakemore and Press, 2013, Brain). Such atypical kinematics can impact on the perception, categorisation (Cook, Blakemore and Press, 2013, Brain) and imitation (Cook et al., 2014, Psychological Medicine) of others’ actions. Dr Cook was awarded the 2014 Frith Prize by the Experimental Psychology Society in recognition of this work.

With respect to social cognition Jennifer and her colleagues have demonstrated considerable individual differences in social learning (the ability to learn new information from those around us) in the typical population and have shown that such individual differences are related to personality traits such as dominance (Cook, den Ouden, Heyes and Cools, 2014, Current Biology). Their ongoing work uses behavioural genetics and psychopharmacology to investigate the contributions of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin to individual differences in social learning.

The lab’s on-going work seeks to investigate the overlap between action, social cognition and neuromodulators in both in the typical population and in people with autism.