Our Research

Who are we?

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development is an interdisciplinary research institute of Western Sydney University. We study the scientific bases of human communication.

What do we do?

MARCS Institute research on Brain, Behaviour and Development encompasses such areas as:

  • How we learn language and handle foreign accents
  • How to program robots for human interaction
  • How we can enhance communication with:
    • Infants;
    • Those with hearing impairments;
    • The elderly
  • How music and dance communicate universally

Research at MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development is conducted in five interdisciplinary research programs.

These research programs are detailed below.

BENS research main

We combine expertise in Electrical Engineering and Medicine to create new medical devices and engineering solutions and to study neural computation. We also conduct neurophysiological and psychophysical investigations and use computational and electronic modelling to reverse engineer the brain.

HMI research main

Investigations of human-machine interaction in human endeavours ranging from knowledge discovery to information visualisations and believable interaction in immersive cyber-physical worlds is an increasingly essential component in understanding of human functioning. We analyse believability of the behaviour of virtual agents "living" in cyber-physical worlds — what are the features of believability, how can they be formalised and implemented in computational form, and how can believability be evaluated?

MSP research main

The manner in which information from the different senses is brought together in perception provides a scaffold for cognitive and social development and underpins our perception of an integrated world. In this program, we seek to understand the processes by which multisensory information is combined, represented and acted upon.

MCA research main

Using behavioural and neurophysiological approaches, we investigate the temporal dynamics in individual and group performance, perception, and creation of music and dance. Coordination and communication in performing and perceiving music, action, and dance are studied as the means to understand synchronisation, affect and emotion, learning and memory, creativity, interpersonal interactions and social processes.

SL research main

Speech and language abilities underpin much of human communication, and enhance, augment, and focus our cognitive, creative and social skills. In this program we conduct research within and between languages, with infants, children and adults focussing on speech perception, speech production, and related skills such as literacy.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development has a number of funded research projects running at any given point in time. All MARCS research projects aim to have a profound impact in their particular field and often involve collaboration with local and international researchers.