Together with my supervisors, colleagues and students, I have developed several paradigms to investigate the influence of motherhood on aspects of social understanding. All paradigms are implemented in Presentation.
If you are interested in using any of these paradigms, feel free to contact me!
COGNITIVE SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING
This task asks participants to judge whether or not a sentence matches an affective face. To make successful judgements, participants need to recognise the emotion (emotion recognition task), predict intentions based on the emotion (theory of mind task) or judge emotion unrelated features (e.g., weight or age). There are two groups of stimuli: children (7-10 years of age) and adults (21-30 years of age). The task was modelled after the paradigm used by Mier et al. (2010, Psychophysiology) who used adult faces. We have used this task successfully as an event-related design with fMRI.
EMPATHY FOR PAIN
This task shows participants pictures of matched neutral and painful situations and asks them to put themselves in the shoes of the person in the picture. Every situation is presented in four variants: painful with a child as a protagonist (1), neutral with a child as a protagonist (2), painful with an adult as a protagonist (3) and neutral with an adult as a protagonist (4). The gender of the protagonists is balanced and the children in the stimuli are 5 and 6 years old, the adults in their twenties. After half of the pictures, participants are asked to rate how painful they imagine this situation to be. Always four pictures have the same protagonist and are introduced with a neutral face to make it explicit if the protagonist is a child or an adult. This paradigm has been successfully used with fMRI with painful pictures engaging empathy of pain areas more strongly compared to the closely matched neutral pictures.
This task consists of videos of child or adult faces slowly changing from neutral to an emotional expression. The stimuli exist for four age groups: 4 to 6 years old, 7 to 10 years old, 11 to 15 years old and adult. Participants are asked to stop the video as soon as they recognise the emotion and then choose the emotion from four options (sad, afraid, angry, happy). The faster they stop the video and make a correct decision, the less information they need to correctly recognise the information. Videos were constructed by morphing neutral and emotional faces. We also implemented a control task where the same neutral face morphs into different animal faces and participants are asked to recognise the animal. This task has been successfully used as a behavioural paradigm.