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Centre for Mind in Society

Leadership

The leadership team for this Centre is drawn from Psychology (Osman), deputy lead from Linguistics (Adger), Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (Pearce) and Preventative Medicine (Priebe). 

Vision

The vision behind its establishment is that all human lives are lived in and molded by social contexts. Understanding this complex interdependence of mind and society is the focus of the Centre, which also aims to develop ways of working with communities to improve the psychological experience of individuals. The fundamental objectives are to understand the nature of the mental lives of individuals from an integrated perspective that includes but goes beyond the clinical.

Centre links with other areas of QM

The Centre brings together concepts from humanities, cognitive and social sciences, and medicine, representing a genuine sharing of expertise in methodologies, theoretical approaches and scientific practices. The Centre will establish close relationships with local communities to advance research in the real world. The Centre has strong links across all three Faculties of QMUL and with existing research centres in: the History of Emotions, Cognitive Science, the Study of Home, Law and Society in a Global Context, the WHO Collaborating Centre - Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Probability and Applications, Economic Theory, Poetry and Biochemical Pharmacology. Priebe is also the R&D Director of the East London NHS Foundation Trust which has already indicated an interest in funding opportunities for joint work. The broad and dedicated involvement of this Centre with other disciplines makes it unusual amongst initiatives which include mental health.

Focus

Human lives are lived in social contexts
All people are social beings and their minds are intrinsically linked to the social world around them.
This complex interdependence of mind and society is the focus of the Centre.

Aims

The Centre aims to generate a better understanding of the mutual influences between mind and society, and to develop ways of working with communities to improve the psychological experience of individuals. This includes, but is not limited to, initiatives to reduce mental distress.

Agenda

Understand
(i) how individuals reason about the social and cultural world around them, how they conceive of their own identities and how they make decisions about that world;
(ii) how they interact and communicate with others, both within and outside of their communities;
(iii) how they express their creativity and appreciate the creativity of others;
(iv), how their own mental lives develop and change in response to the challenges they face.

Schools and Centres involved in MiS

EECS, SLLF, SBCS, SEF, and SG.
There are also specific research links with:
History (Centre for the History of Emotions)
EECS (Cognitive Science Research Group)
Geography (Centre for the Study of Home)
Laws (Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context)
Wolfson Institute (Centre for Psychiatry),
QMUL's WHO Collaborating Centre (the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry)
SMS (Probability and Applications Group)
SEF (Economic Theory Group)
SED (Centre for Poetry)

Structure of MiS Centre: The areas listed below with corresponding research profiles that coordinate activities across faculties are those where there is already established scientific or intellectual excellence at QMUL, which allow the MIS centre to answer key questions that fall under the mission statement. Crucially, the interdisciplinary perspectives will make a real difference because there is a genuine sharing of expertise in methodologies, theoretical approaches and scientific practices. Each area is convened by a team of four key researchers, drawn from across QMUL, so that there is a range of disciplinary expertise for all areas

1. Aesthetic Cognition (convened by Dr M. Pearce, Cognitive Science, Prof A. Brady, English and Drama, Dr T. Dixon, History and Dr Catherine Carr, Psychiatry): How do both cognitive and social factors combine to determine aesthetic responses? What brain regions and networks are involved in aesthetic appreciation and how are these modulated by social context? Can an understanding of these questions improve the use of music and art therapy for psychological disorders? 

2. Human Action and Change (convened by Prof S. Priebe, Unit for Social Psychiatry, Dr Devyani Sharma, Linguistics, Prof A. Korszun, Wolfson Institute and Prof N. Vriend, Economics): How do humans and other organisms embed the outcome of their social interactions in their cognitive systems? What social structures emerge in situations of massive interaction (migration, multilingualism, digital living) and how are they to be understood at an individual level?  How might this inform interventions at social, community, family and individual levels in areas of contemporary concern? 

3. Identity and Belonging (convened by Prof A. Blunt, Geography, Dr Rhodri Hayward, History, Dr J. Jones, Psychology and Dr E. Levon, Linguistics): How is our sense of self connected to our sense of belonging to a group? How important are historical roots in determining our sense of belonging? How does group membership enhance or act as a detriment to individual resilience in growth, personal development and health? 

4. Choice, Chance and Decision (convened by Dr M. Osman, Biological Psychology, Dr C. Tyson, Economics, Prof A. Gnedin, Mathematics and Dr A. McElligott, Biological Psychology): What mathematical models best capture the relation between collective experience and individual choice? How do the constraints on how we make decisions change over lifespans (aging)? How can cognitive capacities for choice in non-human minds enhance our understanding of human choice (comparative cognition)? 

5. Language, Meaning and Interaction (convened by Dr L. Stockall, Linguistics, Prof P. Healey, Cognitive Science, Dr T. Eilola, Biological Psychology, and Prof M. Currie, English and Drama): How can the emerging use of linguistic behavior be used to detect and diagnose a range of cognitive and neurodegenerative disorders (ranging from depression and schizophrenia to Parkinsons and ALS). How an linguistic analysis of this kind be extended to minority languages in a variety of communities? 

6. Mind and Reason in social contexts (convened Dr T. Dixon, History, Dr C. Luft, Biological Psychology, Dr I. Mareschal, Biological Psychology and Prof Richard Ashcroft, Law): How does society's understanding of and attitude to emotions change across time and how does this impact on an individual's understanding of their own emotional state? How does social exclusion impact on individual mental life? How do groups allow, or exclude particular mental and behavioural reactions and how does this impact on individual group members in their cognitive development and in their behaviour?

Existing sources of funding

The research activities of the members of the centre have a proven record of attracting funding from established bodies such as: Welcome, BBSRC, ESRC, AHRC, EPSRC, British Academy, and Leverhulme, as well as EU and charity funding. The MiS centre will preserve these funding tracks as well as applying for programme funding to support networks of researcher across the MiS centre, as well as a doctoral training programme, summer schools, public engagement and community engagement.

Executive Group

Magda Osman (Centre lead) m.osman@qmul.ac.uk
David Adger (Deputy) d.adger@qmul.ac.uk
Marcus Pearce m.pearce@qmul.ac.uk
Stefan Priebe s.priebe@qmul.ac.uk

Post Doctoral Researchers

Sarah Knight: sarah.knight.34@gmail.com
David Hall: d.t.hall@qmul.ac.uk 

Members of MiS

Isabelle Mareschal 
Richard Ashcroft 
Patrick Healey 
Mark Currie 
Tiina Eilola 
Alexander Gnedin 
Linnaea Stockall 
Alan McElligott 
Christopher Tyson 
Rhodri Hayward 
Ania Korszun 
Erez Levon 
Janelle Jones 
Alison Blunt 
Devyani Sharma 
Andrea Brady 
Thomas Dixon 
Kam Bhui 
Aoife Monks 
Caroline Luft 
Nikolina Jovanovic 
Domenico Giacco 
Catherine Carr 
Paulina Szymczynska

Contact

Magda Osman m.osman:@qmul.ac.uk
Head of Centre for Mind in Society
Head of Dynamic learning and decision-making lab
www.magdaosman.co.uk

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