My academic journey began with an undergraduate degree in Psychology (minor in Biology) and MSc in Cognitive Science at the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. My MSc thesis focussed on the development of social norms in toddlers.
To find out more about human social bonding and cooperation, I did a DPhil/PhD with Dr Emma Cohen at the University of Oxford (2016). My doctoral thesis revealed how performing movements that are coordinated in time (such as in dance or rhythmic walking) signals affiliation in infancy, and forges bonds and helping between peers in childhood. At this time, I earned a study abroad grant from Charterhouse European Bursary, with which I spent 3 months at the Uppsala Child & Baby Lab, collaborating with Dr Christine Fawcett.
A growing interest in the links between sensory-motor behaviours and social communication in autism led me to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr Stewart Mostofsky at the Johns Hopkins University (2017 - 2019). During this fellowship, I examined how different forms of action copying relate to social communication. I was also involved in the method development of a Computerised Assessment of Motor Imitation (CAMI). These works were completed in collaboration with psycholinguists (Dr Inge-Marie Eigsti and her team) and computer vision scientists (Dr Rene Vidal and his team). For my current autism work, please visit: Nottingham Autism Research Team webpage.
Since June 2019, I have been working as a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham. I continue to work closely with my previous collaborators and others to find answers to the questions laid out in my Research Summary.
As an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, I have taught undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at the University of Oxford and University of Nottingham on research methods,… read more
My research is on social interactions, bonding, coordination and wellbeing.
I aim to understand how these behaviours develop and which sensory and movement mechanisms underlie them. I study adults and children from neurotypical and autistic populations. My research uses a multidisciplinary framework based in developmental, cognitive and social psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Since March 2020, I have been conducting a global study in collaboration with an international team of researchers on the psychology of Covid-19 compliance and how compliance to lockdown measures affects wellbeing.
My key research questions are:
- > How does coordinating movements with others contribute to social bonding?
- > Can coordinated movement (as in dance) and social bonds help improve wellbeing?
- > Do the answers to the above questions change in autism, during development and across cultures?
I collaborate with many other scientists from around the world to help answer these questions. You can see a full list of my publications here.
TUNÇGENÇ B and COHEN E, 2016. Movement Synchrony Forges Social Bonds across Group Divides. Frontiers in psychology. 7, 782
TUNCGENC, BAHAR, EL ZEIN, MARWA, SULIK, JUSTIN, NEWSON, MARTHA, ZHAO, YI, DEZECACHE, GUILLAUME and DEROY, OPHELIA, 2021. Social influence matters: We follow pandemic guidelines most when our close circle does BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY.
As an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, I have taught undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at the University of Oxford and University of Nottingham on research methods, evolutionary and social psychology, autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. During the pandemic, I gained experience with technolgoy enhanced teaching (TEL).
I have supervised several undergraduate and Master's students, and co-supervised a DPhil student in Oxford to successful completion.
As part of efforts to support science advocacy and equal opportunities, I have given public talks in community events, schools and university open days.