School of Psychology

Image of Bahar Tuncgenc

Bahar Tuncgenc

Research Fellow, Faculty of Science



As of December 2021, I will be based at the Nottingham Trent University. Please visit my personal website to follow any updates about my academic activities:

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 how toddlers understand and apply social norms.

Following this, I did a DPhil/PhD with Dr Emma Cohen at the University of Oxford (2016). My doctoral thesis revealed how coordinating movements (e.g., 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 copying other people's actions relate to social communication. I was 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.

Teaching 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

Research Summary

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.

Selected Publications


My research is on how humans bond and coordinate movements with each other starting from the first months of infancy all the way into adulthood. The findings from this research can have important implications for education, wellbeing and forming social connections within and between groups in the society.

My research has been featured in TV and radio interviews with BBC News, ITV Central, Notts TV, BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Nottingham, among others. Some examples of my media involvement are:

TV Cultura (Brazil): Study reveals influence of people's inner circle behavior on lockdown compliance

BBC News: Dancing can bring people together, say researchers

Daily Mail: Dancing really DOES break the ice: Children who dance together feel more connected

ITV News: Featuring our global Distancing Study on COVID-19 on ITV Central News

Public Engagement

Spreading the word of science, especially to those who are least likely to access it otherwise, is a passion and duty for me. I am always excited to talk about my work and areas of expertise.

Tate Exchange Event 2019: Conducted an interactive study at the "Moving Humans" exhibition

Baltimore Brain Connect 2018: Gave free science lessons in inner city schools as part of the Brain Awareness Week

Book translation 2017: Translation of the book "Why we cooperate" into Turkish

RöporTAF 2017 (in Turkish): Live Youtube interview for an initiative advocating science engagement in Turkey

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.

School of Psychology

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The University of Nottingham
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