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About City

Ramiro Joly-Mascheroni

Department of Psychology

Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit

E: Ramiro.Joly-Mascheroni.1@city.ac.uk

Thesis title: Neurocognitive mechanisms for action perception: a comparative perspective between humans and animals

Supervisors: Dr Beatriz Calvo-Merino and Dr Bettina Forster

Higher educational background

  • MSc Cognitive Neuropsychology and Neuroscience - UCL
  • BSc Psychology - Birkbeck College

Overview and research interests

Ramiro's PhD is focused around two of his main interests. The first is to explore the human neural correlates, cognitive mechanisms and motor representations involved in the perception of other peoples' actions, within a comparative perspective with those in animals. He is working with non-primate animals e.g. dogs, and with primates e.g. adult chimpanzees, to investigate how their cognitive and behavioural responses differ from those of humans when they are perceiving an embodiment-inducing stimulus, such as a yawn. In previous research work, Ramiro showed that dogs catch human yawns, that is dogs may yawn contagiously when observing a human yawning. This was the first study to investigate the phenomenon of contagious yawning across species (Joly-Mascheroni et al., 2008).

His second main interest developed after many years of working with blind children and adults. As part of his PhD research, Ramiro is investigating how humans perceive others' actions when they are severely visually impaired or blind. He is exploring how intersensory mechanisms in the blind may help disentangle the functional and neural relationships between vision and the other senses. Fundamentally, he aims to help parents and educators in the important and difficult task of aiding both severely visually impaired and blind individuals, how to interpret other peoples' facial expressions and how to portray those expressions appropriately themselves.

Research interests

  • Action perception/action understanding of biological movements
  • Visual perception/visual impairment and blindness
  • Mirror neurons
  • Embodiment
  • Contagious yawning
  • Artificial Intelligence.


  • Shepherd AJ, Joly-Mascheroni R. M. Visual motion processing in migraine: Enhanced after-effects are related to display contrast, visual symptoms, visual triggers and attack frequency. Cephalalgia 2016.
  • Joly-Mascheroni, R.M., Senju, A. & Shepherd, A.J. (2008). Dogs catch human yawns. Biology Letters, 4, 4460448. (*) http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0333

Conference Presentations

  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M. Beyond humans? Emulating a morally and ethically unaware android. The Visual Science of Art Conference Barcelona Spain 2016.
  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M., Forster B., Llorente M., Calvo-Merino, B.Beyond humans: contagious yawning in primates elicited by the visual perception of a non-human agent - an android." European Conference on Visual Perception Barcelona 2016 Spain 2016
  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M. STARTS Prize 2016 Nomination. Grand prize of the European Commission honoring innovation in technology, industry and society stimulated by the arts. Prix Ars Electronica. Linz Austria 2016
  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M., Forster B., Calvo-Merino B. Embodiment modulates multisensory perception of visual and tactile stimuli in motion CNS 23rd Annual Meeting Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) New York 2016
  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M., Forster B., Calvo-Merino B. Beyond humans: contagious yawning in primates elicited by a non-human agent (an android). Research in Imagery and Observation Conference RIO 10th Anniversary Meeting 6th – 7th April 2016 University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University.
  • Joly-Mascheroni, R.M., Calvo-Merino B., Forster B. Cross-species contagious yawning in adult chimpanzees: Is it moderated by empathy and familiarity? Shared Experiences: The Boundaries of the Social Brain. Aegina Greece 2014.
  • Joly-Mascheroni, R. M. & Shepherd, A. Enhanced motion after-effects in migraine are related to display contrast: what does this tell us about precortical and cortical neural processing in migraine?Anglo-Dutch Migraine Association meeting, Brighton 2012.
  • Joly-Mascheroni R. M. Developmental and Comparative Perspectives of Contagious Yawning. First International Conference on Yawning, Paris 2010.

Public engagements & Media Coverage

Grants and Awards

  • Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Institutional Strategy, Interdisciplinary and collaborative research generating impact. £5000
  • UK Government Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, for research and innovation: Human-Robotics & Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare of premature babies in Intensive Care Units. £23,000
  • 1st Prize winner of the Images of Research Enterprise competition 2018 City University of London. £1,000
  • 1st Prize winner of theEnterprise competition 2017 City University of London. £15,000.