ERC project: Brain2Bee

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Brain2Bee: How dopamine affects social and

motor ability – from the human brain to the honey bee

January 2018 – January 2023 (ERC starting grant funded)

Portrayals of autistic people in the media often focus on difficulties with communicating and socialising. In contrast portrayals of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease tend to focus on motor difficulties. The co-occurrence of social and motor symptoms is thus critically underappreciated; Parkinson’s Disease patients exhibit social symptoms, and motor challenges (e.g. with handwriting or, perhaps, riding a bike) have been associated with Autism. At present, the biological basis of co-occurring social and motor challenges is unclear. The neuromodulator dopamine has been linked to both social and motor ability in neurotypical individuals. The aim of the Brain2Bee project is to unpack the relationship between dopamine, social and motor function, in order to shed light on the biological basis of co-occurring social and motor challenges.

pharmaPsychopharmacology: Brain2Bee will use psychopharmacology in a neurotypical population to develop a model of the relationship between Dopamine, Motor, and Social behaviour – the “DAMS” model.

genesGenes: Brain2Bee will use genetic analysis to refine DAMS, elucidating the contributions of dopamine-related biological processes (e.g. synthesis, receptor expression, reuptake). Brain2Bee will then test DAMS’ predictions in patients with Parkinson’s Disease and Autism. Thus clarifying whether, for example, dopamine-related genes confer risk for the development of social and motor difficulties in Parkinson’s Disease.

beeHoney Bees: Brain2Bee will investigate whether DAMS generalises to an animal model, the honey bee, enabling future research to unpack the cascade of biological events linking dopamine-related genes with social and motor behaviour.

PDAutism and Parkinson’s Disease: Both Autism and Parkinson’s Disease have been associated with differences in the functioning of the dopamine system. Brain2Bee will help us to understand whether these differences in the way the dopamine system functions are linked to social and motor abilities in individuals with Autism or Parkinson’s Disease.

Outputs:

Papers

Schuster, B. A., Fraser, D. S., van den Bosche, J. J. F., Sowden, S., Gordon, A. S., Huh, D, & Cook, J. L. (under review). Attributing Minds to Triangles: Kinematics and Observer-Animator Kinematic Similarity predict Mental State Attribution in the Animations Task. — preprint

Hickman, L. J., Keating, C. T., Cook, J. L., & Ludvig, E. A. (under review). No differences between autistic and non-autistic adults in social influence on risky decision-making. — data & analysis scripts— preprint

Keating, C. T., Sowden, S., Fraser, D. S., & Cook, J. L. (under review). Differences between autistic and non-autistic individuals in the recognition of anger from dynamic expressions remain after controlling for alexithymia. — preprint

Kandroodi, M. R., Cook, J.L., Swart, J., Froböse, M., Geurts, D., Vahabie, A., Ahmadabadi, M.N., Cools, R., den Ouden, H.E.M. (under review). Working memory capacity predicts effects of methylphenidate on reversal learning. — preprint.

Hickman, L. J., Keating, C. T., Ferrari, A., & Cook, J. L. (in press). Skin conductance responses as an index of alexithymic traits in the general population. Psychological Reports. — data & analysis scripts— link to paper

Sowden, S., Schuster, B. A., Fraser, D.S., Keating, C., & Cook, J. L. (2021). The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression production and recognition. Emotion. — data & stimuli — pdf— link to paper

Hickman, L. J., Seyedsalehi, A., Cook, J. L, Bird, G., Murphy, J. (2021). The relationship between Heartbeat Counting and Heartbeat Discrimination: a meta-analysis. Biological Psychology. — pdf — code— link to paper

Lambrechts, A., Cook, J., Anns, S., Taylor, M., Alonso, E., Ludvig, E., & Gaigg, S. (2020). Reward devaluation in autistic children and adolescents with complex needs: a feasibility study. Autism Research. — pdf — link to paper

Keating, C. T., & Cook, J. L., (2020). Facial Expression Production and Recognition in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Shifting Landscape. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 29(3):557-571. — Epub ahead of print — pdf — ‘The Conversation’ jargon-free explainer — Video

Cook, J., Swart, J., Froböse, M., Diaconescu, A., Geurts, D., den Ouden, H. & Cools, R. (2019) Catecholaminergic modulation of meta-learning. eLife. 8:e51439. data & analysis scripts — link to paper

Schuster, B. A., Sowden, S. L., Karim, D., Wing, A.M., & Cook, J. L. (2019) Acting is not the same as feeling: emotion expression in gait is different for posed and induced emotions. 2019. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience. Conference Abstract: 4th International Conference on Educational Neuroscience.

Sowden, S. L., Schuster, B. A., & Cook, J. L. (2019) The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression. 2019. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience. Conference Abstract: 4th International Conference on Educational Neuroscience.

Cook, J. L. (2019) Autism, kinematics and social cognition. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience. Conference Abstract: 4th International Conference on Educational Neuroscience.

Media

We created a YouTube channel and made videos to explain our research. See here for a collection of all our videos: https://jencooklab.com/code-2/

See here for the online event “Let’s talk about autism: diversity and inclusion” (https://youtu.be/MymNeWlH-5U) that we supported.

 

Talks

January 2021 – Effects of the Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonist Haloperidol on Mentalising Performance in Healthy Adults. Experimental Psychology Society Annual Meeting, presented online. Bianca Schuster as speaker

November 2020 – Effects of the Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonist Haloperidol on Mentalising Performance in Healthy Adults. Centre for Human Brain Health discussion session, University of Birmingham, presented online. Bianca Schuster as speaker

November 2020 – Departmental seminar, Queen Mary University of London, UK. Jen Cook as invited speaker

August 2020 – Diversity and inclusion in autism research. Birmingham Participatory Autism Research Team Consultancy group. Sophie Sowden as speaker.

November 2019 – Social Motivation Symposium, University of Haifa, Israel. Jen Cook as keynote speaker

September 2019 – The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression and perception. CHBH-IMH launch event, University of Birmingham, Birmingham UK. Sophie Sowden as speaker

June 2019 – Body up: Current trends and future directions in embodiment and social interaction, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom. Jen Cook as speaker

June 2019 – The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression. Body up: Current trends and future directions in embodiment and social interaction, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom. Sophie Sowden as speaker

June 2019 – The role of movement kinematics in emotion expression and perception. CHBH journal club, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. Sophie Sowden and Bianca Schuster as speakers

June 2019 – The role of movement kinematics in facial emotion expression. Reading Emotions conference, University of Reading, Reading, UK. Sophie Sowden as speaker

March 2019 – 4th International Conference on Educational Neuroscience, Abu Dhabi. Jen Cook as keynote speaker

November 2018 – Departmental seminar, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, UK. Jen Cook as invited speaker

 

Posters

(Brain2Bee team members underlined)

Rybicki, A. J., Schuster, B. A., Sowden, S. L. & Cook, J. L. (2021). Dopaminergic modulation of learning rate in social and non-social learning. European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. Virtual Conference, June 2021.

Keating, C., Sowden, S. & Cook, J. L. (2021). Two pathways: The contribution of autistic and alexithymic traits to emotion recognition difficulties. International Society for Autism Research Conference. Virtual conference. May 2021

Hickman, L. J., Fraser, D. S., & Cook, J. L. (2021). Research Plan – Examining movement kinematic differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease: A matched-groups comparison study. Experimental Psychology Society Conference & British Neuroscience Association Festival of Neuroscience. Virtual Conference. April 2021.

Rybicki, A. J., Schuster, B. A., Sowden, S. L. & Cook, J. L. (2021). Dopaminergic modulation of learning rate in social and non-social learning. British Neuroscience Association. Virtual Conference, April 2021.

Sowden, S., Hickman, J. L., Schuster, B. A., Rybicki, A., Fraser, D. S., & Cook, J. L. (2021, April). Effects of dopamine D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol on movement speed in a drawing task. Experimental Psychology Society Conference & British Neuroscience Association Festival of Neuroscience. Virtual Conference. April 2021.

Rybicki, A. J., Schuster, B. A., Sowden, S. L. & Cook, J. L. (2021). Dopaminergic modulation of learning rate in social and non-social learning. The Brain Conference. Virtual Conference.

Sowden, S., Hickman, J. L., Schuster, B. A., Rybicki, A., Fraser, D. S., & Cook, J. L. (2021). Effects of dopamine D2 receptor antagonist haloperidol on movement speed in a drawing task. The Brain Conference. Virtual Conference.

Schuster, B.A., Fraser, D.S., van den Bosch, J.J.F., Sowden, S., Rybicki, A.J., Hickman, L.J., Gordon, A.S., Huh, D.B., & Cook, J.L. (2021). Effects of the Dopamine D2 Receptor Antagonist Haloperidol on Mentalising Performance in Healthy Adults. The Brain Conference. Virtual Conference.

Rybicki, A. J., Schuster, B. A., Sowden, S. L. & Cook, J. L. (2021). Dopaminergic modulation of learning rate in social and non-social learning. Experimental Psychology Society Conference. Virtual Conference.

Hickman, L. J., Keating, C. T., Cook, J. L., & Ludvig, E. A. (2021). No differences between autistic and non-autistic adults with respect to social and non-social influences on risky decision making. Experimental Psychology Society Conference.  Virtual Conference.

Rybicki, A. J., Galea, J. M., Fabian, C., Hiles, C. & Cook, J. L. (2020). Autistic and non-autistic adults do not differ in their response to surprising events during motor learning. Experimental Psychology Society Conference. Virtual Conference.

Hickman, L., Keating, C. T., Ferrari, A., & Cook, J. L. (2020). Subjective and objective arousal responses as an index of alexithymic traits in the general population. Experimental Psychology Society Conference. Virtual Conference.

Schuster, B.A., Fraser, DS., Sowden, S.L., Van den Bosch, J.J.F, Gordon, A.S., & Cook, J.L. (2020). Attributing Minds to Triangles: Kinematics are Key for the Correct Attribution of Mental States in the Animations Task. Experimental Psychology Society Conference. Virtual Conference. https://people.ict.usc.edu/gordon//public_html/publications/EPS2020B.PDF

Hickman, L., Abdlkarim, D., Murphy, J., Coll, M.P., & Cook, J.L. (2020). Pulling on the Heartstrings: Tightening up the Heartbeat Counting Task. Annual meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society, London, United Kingdom.

Schuster, B.A., Fraser, D.S., Sowden, S.L., van den Bosch, J.J.F., Gordon, A.S., & Cook, J.L. (2020, January). Beyond kinematics: Predictors of performance in Heider-Simmel style animations. Annual meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society, London, United Kingdom.

Rybicki, A. J., Franke, B., Cools, R. & Cook, J. L. (2020). The influence of genetic variation in monoamine signalling on individual and social learning. Annual meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society. London, UK.

Hickman, L., Abdlkarim, D., Murphy, J., Coll, M.P., & Cook, J. L. (2019). Pulling on the Heartstrings: Tightening up the Heartbeat Counting Task. Body up: Current trends and future directions in embodiment and social interaction, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Schuster, B.A., Sowden, S.L., Abdlkarim, D., Wing, A.M., & Cook, J.L. (2019). Inferring Emotions from Gait: Use of Kinematic Cues Depends on Individual Gait Speed Variability. Body up: Current trends and future directions in embodiment and social interaction, Manchester, United Kingdom.