Social Brain & Cognition Lab

We study how our brains allow us to think about and interact with other people.

Our research focuses on the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying human social behavior, and how these mechanisms might be different in people with autism or acquired brain damage. We use a variety of experimental methods, including eye-tracking, cognitive and behavioral assessments, and functional and structural neuroimaging.


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Dan Kennedy, Ph.D

Lab Director. Dan got his Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego and did postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology before joining the faculty at IU in 2012. His interests lie in how the brain gives rise to various social processes (e.g., how we recognize emotions or understand other people) and how these abilities differ across individuals, especially those on the autism spectrum or those with acquired brain damage.

Peter Pantelis, Ph.D

I model how people make inferences about the hidden mental processes of other agents on the basis of what they can see.

Jen Bush

Jen is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in Clinical Science. She is from South Korea and completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Princeton University in 2010. She is interested in understanding social impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research examines how people with ASD perceive and interpret social situations. She is also interested in how autism traits are presented in the general population.

Xavier Morin Duchnesne

Xavier is originally from Montreal (Quebec, Canada) where he earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees. In Montreal, he worked with Frederic Gosselin on psychophysics of vision, specifically psychophysics of reading. He is now a Psychological and Brain Sciences Ph.D. student at the Indiana University Bloomington where he will be working on social perception and Autism Spectrum Disorders, specifically social saliency. Finally, Xavier enjoys writing about himself in the third person; it makes him feel important.

Jack Nugent

Jack is an undergraduate researcher assistant pursuing a degree in Neuroscience at IU. He is interested in studying the mechanisms and cognitive processes that individuals with autism employ when interpreting social information. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school. Outside of the lab, he works as a student-athlete tutor and runs cross country and track for IU's club team.

Lisa Byrge

Lisa is a graduate student in Dr. Linda Smith's lab, working with Dr. Kennedy on studying temporal dynamics of neural activation patterns during free viewing of semi-naturalistic stimuli. She is interested in how different forms of activity shape networks in the brain over different time scales, especially during development.

Sebastian Kagemann

Sebastian is an undergraduate research assistant studying Computer Science at IU. He is currently interested in applying machine learning to behavioral psychology. In his free time, Sebastian develops websites and mobile applications.


Haley Gedek

Haley was an undergraduate research assistant completing her honor's thesis on the integration of nonverbal information in young adults with autism. Haley currently goes to the University of Notre Dame for clinical psychology.

Susannah Burkholder

Susannah was the first member of the lab (besides Dr. Kennedy). She was our lab coordinator until 2015.


Published research findings from the lab

Brain connectivity in autism: The significant of null findings (2015)

Daniel P. Kennedy, Lynn K. Paul, Ralph Adolphs

Link to paper.

Estimation of the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder in South Korea, revisited (2015)

Peter C. Pantelis, Daniel P. Kennedy

Link to paper.

Idiosyncratic brain activation patterns are associated with poor social comprehension in autism (2015)

Lisa Byrge, Julien Dubois, J. Michael Tyszka, Ralph Adolphs, Daniel P. Kennedy

Participants with ASD (N=17) and controls (N=20) watched a sitcom while in an fMRI scanner. Among these participants, the patterns of evoked brain activation over the course of this viewing tended to be correlated with the exception of five highly idiosyncratic individuals with ASD. Link to paper.

Largely typical patterns of resting-state functional connectivity in high-functioning adults with autism (2013)

J. Michael Tyszka, Daniel P. Kennedy, Lynn K. Paul, Ralph Adolphs

A leading hypothesis for the neural basis of autism postulates globally abnormal brain connectivity, yet the majority of studies report effects that are either very weak, inconsistent across studies, or explain results incompletely. Download paper.

Intact bilateral resting-state networks in the absence of the corpus callosum (2011)

J. Michael Tyszka, Daniel P. Kennedy, Ralph Adolphs, Lynn K. Paul

Download paper.


Studies are ongoing; contact us to schedule an appointment!

We are currently seeking research participants who are at least 14 years old and have received a diagnosis of either high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome.

You will be paid between $15 and $25 per hour, depending on the study.

Research methods include

  • Eyetracking

    Watch videos while cameras track your eye movement.

  • Functional Neuroimaging

    Lie still in a scanner while watching videos and responding to questions.

  • Behavioral & Cognitive Tasks

    Respond to surveys, questionnaires, and interview questions.

Contact Us

Contact Us


Find Us

Located in room 393 in the Psychology building. Visitor parking available to research participants in the Fee Lane Parking Garage, accessible from the intersection of 11th Street and Fee Lane.

1101 E. 10th St.

Bloomington, IN 47405