Media Neuroscience Lab at UCSB

The idea for the lab began in 2009 at the International Communication Association conference when a group of scholars realized their mutual interest in brain science and social-psychological approaches to communication research. In addition to addition to Department members, the Media Neuroscience Lab includes affiliated researchers from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, as well as from other universities around the world. Specifically, Peter Vorderer, the incoming President of the International Communication Association, is the newest supporting member of the Media Neuroscience Lab.

The Media Neuroscience Lab promotes research and teaching at the intersection of communication, technology, and neuroscience, and is open to all scientific research traditions. The Lab encourages collaboration among communication scholars, media professionals, and cognitive neuroscientists to build a rich understanding of shared research questions and methods. Regarding the Lab’s current research, Weber said “One of the big themes we are interested in is morality in narratives; that is, what function do they serve, and what kind of outcomes can be expected when moral domains are upheld or violated in complex narratives”. Other current topics of research include the effects of media violence, the neuroscience of counterarguing in persuasion, and the development of theory including statistical/methodological theory. Active members of the Media Neuroscience Lab meet every Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. in the Social Science and Media Studies Building, Room 4323. These meetings are open to everyone, including undergraduate students.

In addition to its role as a research center, the Media Neuroscience Lab offers services to scholarly and public communities. “We want the Lab to be an open, welcoming environment for scholars and students. We provide consulting, archival datasets, and research tools for researchers to use,” Weber stated. As an example, the Lab has developed a continuous response data collection tool for smartphones and browsers that collect data in real time and can measure heart rates when people put their finger on the cameras of their smartphones.

For more information about the Media Neuroscience Lab, contact René Weber at or visit the Lab, Rooms 4405 & 4323 in SS & MS.


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