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I am a research and teaching fellow funded by the Swiss national science foundation at the Department of Psychology at the University of Geneva. My team is hosted in the lab of Daphne Bavelier since October 2013 at Geneva's Campus Biotech.

An overarching goal of my current research is to understand the links between emotion regulation, executive control and personality. This knowledge has theoretical and also practical implications, as it could help to guide better the conception of training environments for attempting to ameliorate some of these skills. An example of application we are currently working on uses the technology of video games to gamify and re-conceptualize an existing treatment (ABM) which targets attention deficits in individuals with elevated anxiety.

Video-games, besides being fun, also provide unique and engaging learning environments that can be used as effective vehicles to promote or train specific cognitive or affective competences. They offer several advantages over existing interventions given that: 1) they allow to exploit the intrinsic motivation that individuals invest to learn a new skill in a game context. 2) They provide constant feedback on learning performance and 3) they can adapt to individuals’ performance by adjusting the difficulty of the training to maintain an optimal and challenging learning environment. One crucial question that should be addressed in this domain is what makes a learning environment effective to not only induce learning a specific function, but also transfer learning from one context to another that shares similar characteristics.

Another closely related aspect of my research focuses on understanding how biases in social cognition may be acquired by virtue of learning - for instance by studying whether exposure to violent video games influences emotion perception  - or the extent to which they might be associated with personality traits (ie anxiety) or clinical dimensions (i.e. autism) with known deficits in this sphere.

We use convergent methods from neuroscience (brain imaging techniques, psychophysics, peripheral measures, eye tracking) with a strong concern for reproducibility, quality and open Research. Besides this, I am also the coordinator of the research focus on Emotions, video-games and virtual reality hosted at the Swiss center for affective sciences at the Campus Biotech.

Keywords: Affective sciences, cognitive control, learning, gamification of cognitive therapies, video game research

News:


- September 2018: Glad to learn that our video game "Eco Rescue targeting attention training in anxiety, was just nominated as one of the 10 finalists in the "Best Educational Game Award" category of the TIGA Games Industry Awards in London in November 2018.

- August 2018: The lab releases the final version of our serious videogame Eco-Rescue (see screenshot below). We are now starting a randomized control trial study which includes a 1-month training study to assess the potential efficiency of the game as an ABM training regimen. This project is in collaboration with Pr Tomer Shechner (U. Haifa).

- June 2018: Honored to have been awarded an incentive funding grant from the Swiss Center for affective science to help financing a training study on the serious video game we are developing and which should start in October 2018.

- April 2018: Honored to have been awarded the Accessit Marina Picasso prize and grant from the Foundation AEMD, which will help to finance our current research on serious games in mental health. A press release can be found here.

- March 2018: Glad to feature as a jury member of the Emotional Games Awards 2018 organized by Erik Geslin and his team at UCO Laval.

- February 2018: Will be starting a lecture on "Peripheral physiologic measures and application to biofeedback" (U. Geneva, FPSE).

- January 2018: Happy to release the beta version of a serious video game designed for Attention Bias Modification. Proud of the work that my students game designers did in the past 2 years (Antoine, Mohamed, Valentin, David, Edwin). Trailer of the game here



 
As players progress in the game, they learn to recognize positive from negative emotions with less and less intensity, and with more and more targets. This environment trains then to divide attention efficiently during time-challenges, which difficulty is dynamically adapted to match subjects' performance


Scoring table providing feedback on performance
 
As players progress in the game, they see their progression in performance, and help decontaminating the planets of the galaxy :)

Contact:
swann.pichon [zu] unige.ch
Campus Biotech, bât. H8-2
FPSE - University of Geneva
Chemin des Mines 9, Case postale 60, 1211 Geneva 20
Phone/Fax: +41 22 37 90 291 / +41 22 37 99 020