We promote research
and teaching at the intersection of communication,
technology, and neuroscience

Recent Projects

CSaB Website

Check out the new ICA interest Group:
Communication Science and Biology

Consulting, archival data,
and experimental tools.

Services We Offer

Our Mission

The Lab encourages collaboration among communication scholars, media professionals, and neuroscientists to build a richer understanding of shared research questions and methods.
In keeping with this multidisciplinary orientation, the lab community fosters unconventional ideas and critical thinking within a collegial environment.
As a service to scholarly and public communities, the lab provides consulting, produces research tools and best practices, and organizes events.
The Lab encourages collaboration among communication scholars, media professionals, and neuroscientists to build a richer understanding of shared research questions and methods.
In keeping with this multidisciplinary orientation, the lab community fosters unconventional ideas and critical thinking within a collegial environment.
As a service to scholarly and public communities, the lab provides consulting, produces research tools and best practices, and organizes events.

Current Projects

Narratives and Morality

Recent research in the lab has focused on the role of moral narratives in synchronized cooperation, neural responses to social norm violations in TV dramas, and salience of moral intuitions.

Narratives and Violence

The Lab has conducted research elucidating neural correlates of video game violence, character attachment in interactive environments, the role of the internet in facilitating and exacerbating aggressive behavior, and interactive video games.

Computational Methods and Big Data

Currently, the lab is working on computational methods for content analyzing online news and social media content which relies on natural language processing, machine learning, network analysis, and other techniques.

Persuasion Neuroscience

Recent work in the lab has worked to characterize the dynamics of persuasion, build multilevel dynamic models of message effectiveness, and illuminate the neural substrates of counterarguing.

Theory Development

Several avenues of theoretical development are currently being pursued in the lab. Most notably the Sync Theory of Flow, Moral Foundations Theory, the LC4MP, and the Neurophysiological Perspective in Mass Communication Research

Methods Development

Methodological development is a top priority in the lab. We have developed tools for stimulus presentation, null hypothesis significance testing, effect and equivalence testing, and nonlinear SEM.

Sex Differences and Video Games

Another current area of research in the lab is the role of sex differences in video game preference. Research has focused on illuminating the continuous nature of skill and preference, as well as method development in this area.

Attention, Flow, and Cognitive Control.

A primary area of interest for the lab is in flow, cognitive control, and the dynamics of attention in virtual environments. Namely the measurement of flow, media processing in ADHD and Autistic populations, and the role of motivation in flow experiences.

Meet Our Members

René Weber

René Weber, Ph.D., M.D.

Principal Researcher_
René's Bio

René Weber is Professor in the Department of Communication and lead researcher at UCSB’s Media Neuroscience Lab. His recent research focuses on cognitive responses to mass communication and new technology media messages, including video games. He develops and applies both traditional social scientific and neuroscientific methodology (fMRI) to test media related theories. His research has been published in major communication and neuroscience journals and in three authored books. He is an Executive Council member of UCSB’s SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, project leader at UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnology (News Narrative Analyzer Project), and one of five neuromarketing experts accredited by the Advertising Research Foundation. René  served as past Chair of the International Communication Association’s Mass Communication Division and he is currently the Chair of the International Communication Association’s Communication Science and Biology Interest Group

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J. Michael Mangus, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher & Technology Coordinator
MIchael's Bio

Michael Mangus recently completed his PhD in the UCSB Department of Communication. His scholarly interests include group coordination, power structures, and collective action in mediated contexts; evolutionary and materialist approaches to communication theory; and the philosophy of social science. Michael holds a BS, magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Science and an MA from UCSB. In addition to conducting research, he oversees and maintains the Lab’s information infrastructure.

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Chelsea Lonergan, M.A.

Researcher
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Chelsea's Bio

Chelsea is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at UCSB. Her research interests include cognitive communication science and interactive media. Specifically, her research focuses on the relationship between cognitive sex differences, media usage, and media effects. She was awarded distinction in the major in Psychology for her research which examined how individual player differences such as spatial ability, and video game features including gender themes and spatial demands relate to female game preferences. Her research received third place at UCSB’s URCA annual colloquium in the Social Sciences category. Chelsea is an alumna of UCSB where she received a BA in both Communication and Psychology.

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Frederic Hopp

Researcher
Frederic's Bio

Frederic is a MA/PhD student in the Department of Communication at UCSB. Broadly speaking, his research explores media processes and effects from cognitive and neuroscientific perspectives. Specifically, his current research focuses on neural responses to morally-laden media content to predict real-world outcomes, such as media preferences or political judgment and decision making. Before attending UCSB, Frederic held several research assistant positions at the University of Mannheim, where he investigated the effects of cyberostracism in social media environments and the role of entertainment experiences for the processing of political talk shows. Frederic holds a BA in Media and Communication Studies with a minor in Political Science from the University of Mannheim.

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Ori Amir, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher
Ori's Bio

Ori Amir recently completed his PhD in Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Southern California. His published work investigates visual object recognition and its development as well as the neural basis for perceptual pleasure (e.g., shape preferences, insight, humor). He has also studied the neural basis for humor creation, including a study where he made comedians improvise while undergoing fMRI scanning. Ori’s recent work focuses on computational approaches to studying humor. He is joining the Media Neuroscience Lab to explore the cognitive processing of moral narrative, its neural correlates, and the ways in which neural responses to moral content predict real-world outcomes.

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Jacob T. Fisher, M.A.

Researcher
Jacob's Bio

Jacob Fisher (M.A., Texas Tech University) is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at UCSB and a Trainee in the National Science Foundation IGERT in Network Science and Big Data. His research focuses on dynamic attentional networks, salience filtering, multitasking, and media processing in ADHD and Autistic Populations. Before joining the lab, Jacob worked as an Academic Counselor in the TECHniques Center at Texas Tech University, focusing on the creation and analysis of success strategies for students with learning and developmental disabilities in higher education. His work has been presented at various national conferences, including the National College Learning Center Association, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, and the Association for the Tutoring Profession.