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Personal profile


I am a social and visual neuroscientist, with an interest in how the brain processes and extracts information (identity, emotion, gender) from human movements - biological motion. Extending from this, I am interested in how the brains of people with ASDs process visual information and, in particular, biological motion, which has been shown to be aberrant in people with ASDs.  I am also interested in how brains share information in the social sense, which is the essence of communication among mammals, birds and some reptiles.  More recently, I have become interested in the vicarious sharing of emotions and sensations, such as disgust and pain, as well as in how empathic processes are modulated by procosial and violent video games.

Current research activities

I am currently working on a paper demonstrating the effect that stimulus quality has on the sensitivity of fMRI paradigms to detect critical regions involved in processing biological motion.  Furthermore, I am working on papers investigating face processing, biological motion processing, music perception and self-referential memory in children with ASDs.

Desired research direction

My desired research direction is to study vicarious sharing of emotions using EEG, TMS/tDCTS and electromyography and to explore whether those with psychopathy vicariously share pain responses.  I hope also to look at the modulation of empathy via video games, whilst continuing my current line of research into the networks involved in biological motion in typically developed individuals and those with ASDs.

Area of academic expertise - outline

Neural processing of biological motion

Visual processing and disruption of biological motion processing pathways in people with ASDs

Stimulus production for point-light animations

fMRI methods and statistics

Mirror neurons


External positions

Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Dundee


Post-Doctoral Researcher, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience


Research Assistant, University of Glasgow


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Research Output

Changes in brain activity following the voluntary control of empathy

Borja Jimenez, K. C., Abdelgabar, A. R., De Angelis, L., McKay, L. S., Keysers, C. & Gazzola, V., 1 Aug 2020, In : Neuroimage. 216, 12 p., 116529.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

Open Access
  • 23 Downloads (Pure)

    Empirical evaluation of the uncanny valley hypothesis fails to confirm the predicted effect of motion

    Piweck, L., McKay, L. S. & Pollick, F. E., 31 Mar 2014, In : Cognition. 130, 3, p. 271-277 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 49 Citations (Scopus)

    Experience and the perception of biological motion

    Pollick, F. E., Jola, C., Petrini, K., McKay, L. S., McAleer, P., Jang, S. H., MacLeod, C. & Simmons, D. R., 10 Jan 2013, People Watching: Social, Perceptual, and Neurophysiological Studies of Body Perception. Johnson, K. & Shiffrar, M. (eds.). Oxford University Press, Chapter 9

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • 4 Citations (Scopus)

    Do distinct atypical cortical networks process biological motion information in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders?

    McKay, L., Simmons, D., McAleer, P., Marjoram, D., Piggot, J. & Pollick, F., 2012, In : Neuroimage. 59, 2, p. 1524-1533 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 39 Citations (Scopus)

    Action expertise reduces brain activity for audiovisual matching actions: an fMRI study with expert drummers

    Petrini, K., Pollick, F., Dahl, S., McAleer, P., McKay, L., Rocchesso, D., Waadeland, C. H., Love, S., Avanzini, F. & Puce, A., 1 Jun 2011, In : Neuroimage. 56, 3, p. 1480–1492 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 45 Citations (Scopus)