Neuropolitics Research Lab

The Neuropolitics Research Lab produces transdisciplinary research, utilizing developments in the cognitive neurosciences, to shed new light on political attitudes, identities and decision-behaviours.

Our aim is to test the utility of methods more typically associated with neuroscience, informatics and cognitive psychology in helping us to understand more about political attitudes and behaviours. Neuropolitics interrogates the relationship between cognitive and neuro-biological processes and our political attitudes, identities and behaviours, both from a theoretical point-of-view and in practice.

We aim to understand and establish what is happening in people's brains, minds and bodies when they are posting comments online, making policy, voting in elections or deciding whether to trust or share 'fake' news. We use these insights to guide public policy practice and enhance public understanding at a national and international level.

New technologies allow unprecedented access to the human brain. Online activities and the resulting 'big data' allow unprecedented access to citizens' political reactions, interactions and judgments. Cognitive neuroscientists, data scientists, psychologists, social and political scientists will combine to transform our understanding of the psychology and politics driving public opinion and political behaviour, and thus help to shape public policy interventions. Our neuropolitics research is produced in collaboration with colleagues from the social sciences, psychology, informatics and the brain imaging centres at the University of Edinburgh. We also work closely with colleagues from other Universities at home and abroad as well as with partners in industry.

Our group uses a range of experimental approaches, including fMRI brain scanning, survey experiments, behavioural games, face-emotion coding, eye-tracking and physiological hormone testing as well as big data analysis, to explore the mind–brain–action nexus in political and policy context.

We are currently running a series of fMRI brain scanning, face-emotion coding and eye-tracking experiments. If you are interested in participating in our research, we are always looking for healthy volunteers.

Please email (fMRI) Sujin Hong or (face emotion coding/eye tracking) Robin Hill to get involved.

You can follow our work on Facebook or on Twitter #NRLabs.


Group identity is a central aspect of political behaviour. In a series of fMRI experiments we explore the neural correlates of this behaviour and ask what additional information this can provide beyond the more traditional large-scale cross-sectional surveys of political attitudes and behaviour.

Face-emotion coding and eye-tracking

Working with our partners at CrowdEmotion we are testing the applicability of face-emotion coding approaches to political behaviour.

Big-data and cognitive framing in social media

Using big data analysis we are investigating the drivers that form political opinion and how this influences public on debate on contemporary political issues.