About me

I originally studied and obtained my Diploma in geography. During an internship about digital signal processing in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto I got to love the methods and the topics of psychology. It was then that I decided to do my Master's and Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Toronto.

In my research I follow my passion of understanding human social behavior. I am currently leading with Tobias Meilinger the Social and Spatial Cognition Group in the Department of Perception, Cognition, and Action at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany.

You can also frequently find me working on developing software. My aim is to help the researcher community by providing reliable software tools that make research more efficient. I developed with the support of the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics banto. banto is a web based system for room booking and participant recruitment which is by-and-large free of charge for the academic scientific community.

Overall, I explore and establish relations between humans and information technology. Because I believe that the use of technology on humans should be well considered, I find research questions regarding data security and ethics very exciting.

Research Interests

From lab to life

I think it is fair to say that most of the behavioral research has ultimate goal to understand and explain everyday human behavior. However, most of the experimental conditions, under which human behavior is assessed, have little resemblance with everyday life. While there is good reason for that (in fact it warrants statistical and logical inferences from the data) the question remains how one can close this gap between lab and real life.

Here I bridge the gap between lab and real real by using virtual, augmented and mixed realities. These technologies allow the creation of complex stimuli that allow participants to behave naturally in the experimental environment. At the same time these technologies give the degree of control required for scientific reasoning. In use thorough psychophysical methods to maintain a high internal validity. As a result the combination of virtual reality and psychophysical methods provide an experimental approach that has both high internal and ecological validity.

Social perception, cognition, and action

Imagine you are interacting with the person in the image: Knowing whether she is greeting you with a fist bump or is going to punch you is very important for choosing the appropriate action response. In real life people have often little difficulties to interpret the actions of other people appropriately. But how does the brain achieve this remarkable feat? In my research I investigate the underlying psychological processes of social information processing. I use computational models of actions - such as the action morph in the image - to examine, for example, how people make decisions about another person's action.

In brief, my research investigates non-verbal social behavior including faces and bodies. I combine modeling, computer science, and thorough psychological and neuroscientific experimentation to gain insights about perceptual, cognitive and motor processes involved in social behavior. I focus on bodily and facial movements. I aim to investigate these processes under close-to-natural conditions. For this reason I use virtual reality, motion tracking and computational models to create realistic environments that enable participants to behave naturally. At the same time, these setup provide the degree of experimental control required for scientific reasoning.

Recently, we have described a novel way to examine the perceptual and cognitive processes underlying the human ability to tell two actions apart (e.g. a handshake from a high-five). We are using an action morphing algorithm in combination with an adaptation paradigm and an action categorization task to target behavioral correlates of neural categorization processes. Using this adaptation paradigm we are able to change the perception of an action and can determine the visual variables responsible underlying action categorization. Click here for an online demonstration of the adapatation effect.

Overall, my research spans cognition, perception, cognitive neuroscience and social neuroscience. The following is a list of my current research topics.

Research tools

Testing participants is a time consuming and expensive task: one needs to schedule appointments with participants, coordinate the use of equipment, which is required for the experiment, with colleagues and sometimes need to compensate participants with student credit.

We were fortunate enough with the great support of the Department for Perception, Cognition, and Action at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics to develop and implement an online tool that can do all the above things. The best thing is that it is free to use for all research institutions.

If you would like to get more information about the free online participant and equipment management pool visit http://banto.co.

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Summaries of published articles in about 4 slides

Media

Media coverage of our work

 

May, 2017: Virtuelle Realitäten in der Wissenschaft. WDR Reportage


 

May 2017: Die Deutschen und die Tiefe des Raumes. Schwäbisches Tagblatt


 

May 2017: Kulturelle Unterschiede in der Raumwahrnehmung. Deutschlandfunk


 

March 2017: Virtuelle Realitäten: Die Empathiemaschine. DB Mobile magazine


 

May 2016: Freund oder Feind? Handlungsdeutung im Gehirn. DocCheck News


 

April 2017: Radiointerview von Laura Fademrecht zu Augenwinkel-Optik in der Sendung Impuls SWR2


 

March 2016:Was Menschen aus dem Augenwinkel am besten sehen. Die Welt


 

March 2016: Was geht ab im Augenwinkel? Max-Planck-Forscher erforschten den Rand unseres Blickfelds 'Schwäbisches Tagblatt'


 

March 2016: Ohrfeige oder Umarmung - wieviel erkennen wir aus dem Augenwinkel?. Psychologie-aktuell


 

January 2016: Kooperation funktioniert auch ohne Worte. N-TV


 

Vom Nutzen des Miteinanders. Weser Kurier


 

2015: Können Sie mir sagen, wie ich zum Ziel komme? – Die Interaktion räumlichen und sozialen Denkens. Max Planck Yearbook 2015


 

Social cognition research on radio at OE1 (Austrian Radio)

Demos

2. We have created an interactive virtual reality setup in which participants can interact with an avatar. Due to shutter glasses participants perceive the scene in 3D giving an interactive feel to it:


3. I have developed an online tool for recruiting participants. Together with Sylvain Perenes and the great support of MPI Biological Cybernetics we are currently distributing this software for free.
Visit https://banto.co

Publications

Peer reviewed journal publications (27)

 

27. Ferstl, Y, Bülthoff, H.H., and de la Rosa S (in press). Action recognition is sensitive to the identity of the actor. Cognition

 

26. Fademrecht, L, Bülthoff, I, and de la Rosa S (in press). Action recognition is viewpoint-dependent in the visual periphery. Vision Research

 

25. Saulton, A, Bülthoff, H H, and de la Rosa S (epub ahead). Conceptual biases explain distortion differences between hand and objects in localization tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

 

24. Saulton, A, de la Rosa S, Bülthoff, H H, and Dodds, T (2017). Cultural differences in room size perception PLoS One

 

23. de la Rosa S, Ferstl Y, Bülthoff HH (2016). Visual adaptation dominates bimodal visual-motor action adaptation. Scientific Reports, 6, 23829; doi: 10.1038/srep23829

 

22. Jung E, Takahashi K, Watanabe K, de la Rosa S, Butz MV, Bülthoff HH und Meilinger T (2016). The Influence of Human Body Orientation on Distance Judgments. Frontiers in Psychology 7(217) 1-9.

 

21. de la Rosa, S. , Ekramnia M., Bülthoff H.H. (2016). Action recognition and movement direction discrimination tasks are associated with different adaptation patterns. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 10(56) 1-6

 

20. de la Rosa S, Schillinger FL, Bülthoff HH, Schultz J und Uludag K (Februar-2016) fMRI adaptation between action observation and action execution reveals cortical areas with mirror neuron properties in human BA 44/45 Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10(78) 1-10

 

19. Fademrecht L.,Bülthoff I., de la Rosa, S. (2016). Action recognition in the visual periphery. Journal of Vision. 16(3:33) 1-14

 

18. Saulton, A., Longo, M. R., Wong, H. Y., Bülthoff, H. H., & de la Rosa, S. (2016). The role of visual similarity and memory in body model distortions. Acta Psychologica, 164, 103–111.

 

17. Chang D-S., Burger F., Bülthoff H.H., de la Rosa S (2015). The Perception of Cooperativeness Without Any Visual or Auditory Communication. i-Perception 6(6) 1-6.

 

16. Saulton, A., Dodds, T. Bülthoff, H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2015). Objects exhibit body model like shape distortions, Experimental Brain Research, 233(5):1471-1479

 

15. de la Rosa, S., Choudhery, R., Curio, C., Ullman, S., Assif, L., & Bülthoff, H. (2015). Visual categorization of social interactions. Visual Cognition, 22, 1233-1271

 

14. Volkova, E., de la Rosa, S., Bülthoff, H. H., & Mohler, B. (2014). The MPI Emotional Body Expressions Database for Narrative Scenarios. PloSOne. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113647

 

13. Heinrich, A. , de la Rosa, & S. Schneider, B. (2014). The role of stimulus complexity, spectral overlap, and pitch for gap thresholds in young and old listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America . 136(4).1797-1807. doi: 10.1121/1.4894788

 

12. Piryankova, I., Stefanucci, J. K., Romero, J., de la Rosa, S., Black, M., & Mohler, B. (2014). Can I recognize my body’s weight? The influence of shape and texture on the perception of self. Transactions on Applied Perception. 11(3). doi: 10.1145/2641568

 

11. de la Rosa, S., Streuber, S., Giese, M., Bülthoff, H. H., & Curio, C. (2014). Putting actions in context: visual action adaptation aftereffects are modulated by social contexts. PloS One, 9(1), e86502. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086502

 

10. de la Rosa, S. & Bülthoff H. H. (2014) Motor-visual neurons and action recognition in social interactions. Commentary on 'Mirror neurons: From origin to function'. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 37, 197

 

9. Dobricki, M., & de la Rosa, S. (2013). The structure of conscious bodily self-perception during full-body illusions. PloS One, 8(12), e83840. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083840

 

8. de la Rosa, S. , Mieskes S., Bülthoff H.H., & Curio C. (2013). View dependencies in the visual recognition of social interactions Frontiers in Psychology 4(752) 1-10.

 

7. de la Rosa, S., Giese, M.A., Bülthoff, H.H., & Curio, C. (2013). The contribution of different cues of facial movement to the emotional facial expression adaptation aftereffect. Journal of Vision. 13(1:23), 1-15.

 

6. Alexandrova, I.V., de la Rosa S., Kloos U., Bülthoff H.H., & Mohler B.J. (2013). Egocentric distance perception in large screen immersive displays. Display, 34(2) 153–164.

 

5. Streuber, S., Mohler, B., Bülthoff, H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2012). The Influence of Visual Information on the Motor Control of Table Tennis Strokes. Presence. 21(3), 281-294.

 

4. Streuber, S., Knoblich, G., Sebanz, N., Bülthoff ,H.H., & de la Rosa ,S. (2011). The effect of social context on the use of visual information. Experimental Brain Research, 1-12.

 

3. de la Rosa, S., Choudhery, R., & Chatziastros, A. (2011). Visual object detection, categorization, and identification tasks are associated with different time courses and sensitivities. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37(1) 38-47.

 

2. de la Rosa, S., Gordon, M., & Schneider, B. (2009). Knowledge alters visual contrast sensitivity. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 71(3) 451-462.

 

1. de la Rosa, S. Moraglia, G. & Schneider, B. (2008). The magnitude of binocular disparity modulates search time for targets defined by a conjunction of depth and color. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(3) 150-155.

Conference proceedings

 

Saulton A, Bülthoff HH and de la Rosa S (2016): Objects vs. hand: the effect of knuckle misconceptions on localization task distortions, 46th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2016), San Diego, CA, USA.

 

de la Rosa S , Ferstl Y and Bülthoff HH (2016): The face of actions: Evidence for neural action recognition processes being sensitive for facial identity, 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2016), Barcelona, Spain, Perception, 45(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 294.

 

Fademrecht L, Bülthoff HH and de la Rosa S (2016): Visual processes dominate perception and action during social interactions, 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2016), Barcelona, Spain, Perception, 45(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 65.

 

Meilinger T, Strickrodt M, Hinterecker T, Chang D-S, Saulton A, Fademrecht L and de la Rosa S (2016): Using Virtual Reality to Examine Social and Spatial Cognition, Virtual Environments: Current Topics in Psychological Research: VECTOR Workshop, Tübingen, Germany.

 

Fademrecht L, Nieuwenhuis J, Bülthoff I, Barraclough N and de la Rosa S (2016): Does action recognition suffer in a crowded environment?, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 280.

 

de la Rosa S , Ferstl Y and Bülthoff HH (2016): Does the motor system contribute to action recognition in social interactions?, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 268.

 

Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I, Barraclough NE and de la Rosa S (2015): The spatial extent of action sensitive perceptual channels decrease with visual eccentricity, 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2015), Chicago, IL, USA.

 

Chang D-S, Ju U, Bülthoff HH and de la Rosa S (2015): How different is Action Recognition across Cultures? Visual Adaptation to Social Actions in Germany vs. Korea, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 493.

 

de la Rosa, S., Lubkoll, M., Saulton, A., Meilinger, T., Bülthoff, H.H., Canal-Bruland, R. (2015). Motor planning and contorl: You interact faster with a human than a robot. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen (TEAP). (Talk)

 

Huff, M., Papenmeier, F., Meilinger, T., de la Rosa, S. (2015). Semantic relations in aysemtric dynamic social interactions. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen (TEAP). (Poster)

 

Foster, C., Takahashi, K., Kurek, S., Horeis, C., Bäuerle, M. J., de la Rosa, S., Watanabe, K., Butz, M.V., Meilinger, T. (2015). Looking at me? Influence of facing orientation of avatars and objects on distance estimation. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen (TEAP). (Talk)

 

Chang D-S., Bülthoff, H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Action recognition and the semantic meaning of actions: how does the brain categorize different social actions?, 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (KogWis 2014), Tübingen, Germany, Cognitive Processing, 15 (Supplement 1) S95. (Talk)

 

Chang D-S., Bülthoff H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Actions revealing cooperation: predicting cooperativeness in social dilemmasfrom the observation of everyday actions, 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (KogWis 2014), Tübingen, Germany, Cognitive Processing, 15 (Supplement 1) S33-S34. (Poster)

 

Hohmann M.R., de la Rosa S., & Bülthoff H.H. (2014): On the perception and processing of social actions, 12th Biannual Conference of the German Cognitive Science Society (KogWis 2014), Tübingen, Germany, Cognitive Processing, 15 (Supplement 1) S46-S47. (Poster)

 

Fademrecht L., Bülthoff I., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): A matter of perspective: action recognition depends on stimulus orientation in the periphery, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43 (ECVP Abstract Supplement) 103. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa S., Hohmann M., & Bülthoff H.H. (2014): Actions in motion: Separate perceptual channels for processing dynamic and static action information, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43 (ECVP Abstract Supplement) 71. (Talk)

 

Chang D-S., Bülthoff H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Does Action Recognition Depend more on the Meaning or Motion of Different Actions?, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43 (ECVP Abstract Supplement) 103. (Poster)

 

Piryankova IV., Stefanucci JK., Romero J., de la Rosa S., Black MJ.., & Mohler B.J. (2014): Can I recognize my body's weight? The influence of shape and texture on the perception of self, 41st International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH 2014), Vancouver, Canada. (Talk)

 

Chang D-S., Bülthoff H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Visual Adaptation to Social Actions: The Role of Meaning vs. Motion for Action Recognition, Conference on Brain and Cognitive Engineering (BCE 2014), Tübingen, Germany. (Poster)

 

Fademrecht L., Bülthoff I., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Influence of eccentricity on action recognition, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1006. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa S. , Fuller G., & Bülthoff H.H (2014): Social interaction recognition: the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1005. (Poster)

 

Saulton A., Dodds T., Bülthoff H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Body and objects representations are associated with similar distortions, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 845. (Poster)

 

Chang D-S., Bülthoff H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2014): Visual Adaptation to Social Actions: The Role of Meaning vs. Motion for Action Recognition, 79th Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology: Cognition, New York, NY, USA. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa, S.reuber, S., Giese, M.A., Bülthoff, H.H., & Curio, C. (2013). Visual adaptation aftereffects to actions are modulated by high-level action interpretations. 13th Visual Science Society Annual Meeting, Naples. (Talk)

 

de la Rosa, S., Miekes, S. , Bülthoff, H.H., & Curio. C. (2012): View dependencies in the visual recognition of social interactions, 35th European Conference on Visual Perception, Alghero, Italy, Perception, 41(ECVP Abstract Supplement). (Poster)

 

Kaulard, K., Schultz, J., Wallraven, C. , Bülthoff, H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2012): Inverting natural facial expressions puzzle you, 35th European Conference on Visual Perception, Alghero, Italy, Perception, 41(ECVP Abstract Supplement). (Poster)

 

Curio, C. , Giese, M. , Bülthoff, H.H., & de la Rosa, S. (2012): Motor-visual effects in the recognition of dynamic facial expressions, 35th European Conference on Visual Perception, Alghero, Italy, Perception, 41(ECVP Abstract Supplement). (Talk)

 

de la Rosa, S., Giese, M., Bülthoff, H. H., & Curio, C. (2011). The influence of dynamic and static adaptors on the magnitude of high-level aftereffects for dynamic facial expression, Perception, 40, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 154. (Poster)

 

Kaulard, K., de la Rosa, S., Schultz, J, Fernandez Cruz, A.L., Bülthoff, H.H., & Wallraven, C. (2011). What are the properties underlying similarity judgments of facial expressions? Perception, 40, ECVP Abstract Supplement,115. (Poster)

 

Streuber S., & de la Rosa, S. (2011). The effect of visual information on motor control in social interaction tasks, Perception, 40, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 115. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa, S., Choudhery, R., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2010): Social interaction recognition and object recognition have different entry levels, Perception 39, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 12. (Talk)

 

Kaulard, K., Wallraven, C., de la Rosa, S., & Bülthoff, H.H. (2010): Cognitive categories of emotional and conversational facial expressions are influenced by dynamic information, Perception, 39, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 157. (Poster)

 

Schillinger, F., de la Rosa, S., Schultz, J., & Uludag K (2010): Whole-brain fMRI using repetition suppression between action and perception reveals cortical areas with mirror neuron properties, Perception, 39(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 54. (Poster)

 

Streuber, S., & de la Rosa, S. (2010): Action prediction in competitive table tennis, Perception 39, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 180. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa, S. , Choudhery, R., & Chatziastros, A. (2009), Detection, categorization, and identification are separable component processes of object recognition, Perception 38 ECVP Abstract Supplement, 26. (Poster)

 

Streuber, S., & de la Rosa, S. (2009): The role of body and tool-based information in joint action coordination, Perception 38, ECVP Abstract Supplement, 33. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa, S. & Chatziastros, A. (2008). Recognising the actions of others is as fast as recognising objects. Perception, 37, 31. (Poster)

 

de la Rosa, S., Morgalia, G., & Schneider, B. (2008). Binocular unmasking is important for the detection, categorization and identification of noise-masked real-life objects. International Congress of Psychology, Berlin, Germany. (Talk)

 

de la Rosa, S., Gordon, M., & Schneider, B. (2007). Top-down control over visual contrast sensitivity. Perception, 36, 61. (Talk)

 

de la Rosa, S., Morgalia, G., & Schneider, B. (2005). Search behaviour in conjunctive visual searches with stereoscopic depth and colour, Perception, 34, 151. (Poster)