Emilie Caspar

Post-Doc. Researchertel. 026503295


Research interest:

Voluntary actions, sense of agency, responsibility, forensic psychology and psychiatry, psychopathology and antisocial behaviours, (im)moral decision-making, free will, moral consciousness, conscious intention, synaesthesia, robotics and prosthesis, body-ownership.


Brief Bio:

I completed my PhD in Brussels in Axel Cleeremans’ lab in 2013. During my PhD, I investigated how the sense of being the author of one’s own action (= sense of agency) comes about in the human brain. To answer this question, I combined a behavioural and an Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) approach by systematically exploring the factors that can reduce the sense of agency, and its relation with personal responsibility. Conjointly to my Phd, I also successfully achieved a two-year certificate in forensic sciences and forensic psychiatry at the ULB. I also spent one year and a half at University College London (UK) in the lab of Patrick Haggard during my Phd, where I developed several experiments, of which one was published in Current Biology and has attracted attention of media all over the world (Nature, The New York Times, BBC News, etc. https://cell.altmetric.com/details/5632859). In this experiment, I explored how coercion impacts the sense of agency in the human brain, thus revisiting the famous Milgram experiment with a totally new and ethical paradigm. These experiments have received an interest from the Royal Military Academy of Belgium (RMA) and produced a new collaboration with Dr. Salvatore Lo Bue, chair of psychology in the department of behavioural sciences at RMA. For my research, I have been awarded (May 9th, 2016) the Prix de Psychologie from the Royal Academy for Arts and Sciences of Belgium, delivered to the best PhD Thesis in Scientific Psychology defended between January 2012 and December 2015. Further, my collaborators and I have also been awarded the Evens Science Prize 2016 (http://evensfoundation.be/prizes/science/science-prize-2016/). I have also been nominated for the William James Prize of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC 20) and for the APS Rising Star Award (results pending).

Currently, I am carrying out my new project on social neurosciences at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie individual fellowship. The aim of this research project is to refine our understanding of the mechanisms driving both responsibility and empathy and generate a model that integrates these two aspects to understand better what guides moral behaviours in a hierarchical situation.


Techniques and methods:

Behavioral, EEG, ERP, time-frequency analysis, fMRI, robots (humanoid or hand)

Research Topics

    Emilie Caspar / selected publications

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