February 2023: Piia Astikainen

“Researcher of the month” introduces the people of Jyväskylä Brain and Mind and their current research news.

Piia Astikainen, Associate Professor

Who are you and what do you do at JYU?

My name is Piia Astikainen, and I’m an associate professor in cognitive neuroscience at the Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä. I’m the leader of Active Mind group.

What is your current research interest?

In the Active Mind group, we are interested in perception and memory functions. Recently we have focused on speech and face perception. We have studied social cognition in people suffering from depressive symptoms and, in our recent studies, also in people who feel lonely. Our latest research project, funded by the Academy of Finland, investigates whether learning a foreign language is more effective in pairs than learning alone. We utilize electrophysiological recordings of the brain activity (electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography), which provide precise timing for brain activity.

What do you think would be interesting to research in the future?

I have always been broadly interested in human cognition and brain function. Understanding of brain function in the natural environment is still limited. Many groups in the world, including the Active Mind group, are developing techniques to measure brain activity in communicative situations with other people. I think this is important because effective interaction between people is the key to well-being.

Some of Piia's recent published studies

  1. Ye, C., Xu, Q., Li, X., Vuoriainen, E., Liu, Q., & Astikainen, P. (2023). Alterations in working memory maintenance of fearful face distractors in depressed participants: An ERP study. Journal of Vision, 23, 10.
  2. Dou, H., Lei, Y., Pan, Y., Li, H., & Astikainen, P. (2023). Impact of observational and direct learning on fear conditioning and generalization in humans. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 121, 110650.
  3. Li, X., Pesonen, J., Haimi, E., Wang, H., & Astikainen, P. (2020). Electrical brain activity and facial electromyography responses to irony in dysphoric and non-dysphoric participants, Brain and Language, 211:104861.