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

Through his substantial and prolific record of research in the area of media neuroscience, René Weber has made important contributions to the field of communication. His research program focuses on complex cognitive responses to mass communication, video games, and new technology media messages. He has earned both the Ph.D. in Media Psychology and an M.D. in Psychiatry and Cognitive Neuroscience, providing him with a key combination of training in support of his development of theories that help us better understand the dynamic interactions between the human brain and mediated messages. He was the first communication scholar to regularly use fMRI methodologies to investigate a series of different media effects, from the impact of violence in video games to the effectiveness of anti-drug PSAs. He has published four books and more than 110 journal articles and book chapters (May, 2018). His research has been supported by grants from national scientific foundations in the United States and Germany, as well as through private philanthropies and industry contracts. The international significance of work is evidenced by several top paper awards, and “Outstanding Article” awards from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Advertising Research Foundation. He has been a high-profile public representative for communication science within the academy and the general public. He is on the editorial board of several top-tier communication and neuroscience journals. He was founder of the International Communication Association’s Communication Science and Biology Interest Group and served as its first Chair, helping to develop a sense of community among its members. He also served as Vice Chair/Chair of ICA’s Mass Communication Division.

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Chelsea Lonergan, M.A.

Researcher
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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Jacob T. Fisher, M.A.

Researcher
Jacob's Bio

Jacob is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a researcher in the Media Neuroscience Lab, and a trainee of the National Science Foundation IGERT in Network Science and Big Data. He researches multimedia processing and media multitasking from a network neuroscience perspective. His current work investigates how certain digital environments can modulate attentional networks in the brain, and how these modulatory effects can be harnessed to develop novel treatments for cognitive processing disorders like ADHD.