Making a splash at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research

According to early reports, laboratory researchers are attracting attention at NCUR, held this year at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.  This year’s NCUR is the largest ever, with over 4,000 students and mentors attending.

Congratulations to all lab members who attended this conference!!


Lab member Mason Wehse presented his poster on “Semantic satiation and the comprehension of emotional language.”


Lab member Thomas Haasl with his poster “Exploring the impact of facial fatigue on emotional language comprehension.”


Lab member and McNair scholar Nicholas Walker with his poster, “Reducing the fundamental attribution error by manipulating the mirror neuron system.”


McNair scholar Mindy Thao with her poster, “Exporing differences in embodiment of emotional language comprehension between European Americans and Hmong Americans.”

Paper to be presented at International Conference in August

headerDr. David Havas will give a talk at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Society for Text & Discourse, to be held in Chicago on August 4-6.   The Society for Text & Discourse is an international, interdisciplinary society of researchers who focus on the study of text and discourse processing and analysis.

The title of the talk will be, “Electrophysiological evidence for a causal role of facial feedback in online emotional language comprehension.”

Students from the lab who attend the conference will be treated to lunch on the day of the presentation, or to a Boat tour.


Lab Member Thomas Haasl’s research featured at the State Capital

Lab research conducted by Thomas Haasl was featured at this year’s “Posters in the Rotunda” event at the State Capital.  Thomas was among a select group of students to represent UW-Whitewater at the system-wide event.  Congratulations to Thomas, who shared the importance of the research being conducted in our lab with State Senator Joe Liebham.


Photos by Craig Schreiner

Lab featured in Wired Magazine

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The Laboratory for Language and Emotion has been featured in an article in Wired.  The article poses the question can a computer fall in love?  Using the new movie Her as a reference point, the article questions if artificial intelligence is advanced enough to allow computers to feel love.  The article also approaches this topic from the perspective of embodied cognition asking if a body is required to feel emotions, such as love.  Lab director David Havas, Ph.D. was interviewed for his opinion on the subject and his responses from the interview are featured in the article.

Read the Wired Magazine article.

Meet lab member Nicholas Walker

Lab member Nicholas Walker is a McNair Scholar.  Nick is investigating neural mechanisms that may influence the fundamental attribution error.

Nick Walker

From the abstract of Nick’s project, entitled Reducing the Fundamental Attribution Error by Manipulating the Mirror Neuron System“:

“The Fundamental attribution error (FAE), or the tendency to overestimate dispositional factors and underestimate situational factors while explaining another`s behavior, has been shown to be reduced through training in cognitive empathy. I am interested in the mechanism that is accountable for empathy and how manipulating this mechanism may help in the reduction of the FAE. The mirror neuron system (MNS) has been proposed as a mechanism for empathy. The MNS is a brain network in humans that has been shown to be active both during the performance and the observation of the same action, and during both the experience of emotion and the observation of emotion in others.  Thus, the MNS may provide a neural mechanism for empathizing with others. Socially mirrored actions, which putatively engage the MNS of participants, are known to increase the empathic bond between participant dyads.  I hypothesize that manipulation of the MNS through socially mirrored actions will increase cognitive empathy and cause a reduction of the FAE.  Theorists have proposed that there are two types of empathy (cognitive and emotional), and previous research is equivocal about what type of empathy the MNS is most related to. The purposed study, will evaluate the influence of socially mirrored actions on both emotional and cognitive empathy. “