Professor Thiruchselvam's research focuses on affective neuroscience: the study of emotion and related processes (motivation, mood, etc.) using neural and behavioral methods. He will supervise one- and two-semester senior projects in one of the areas listed below.
Emotion and Emotion Regulation
Although emotions are essential for human functioning, they often need to be regulated. How do people control their emotions? What strategies do individuals use, and what are the consequences of employing these strategies? Are certain strategies more powerful than others? How do problems in emotion regulation contribute to mental illness (e.g., anxiety and depression)?
Emotion and Irrational Belief
It is becoming increasingly clear that people often hold beliefs that clearly contradict reality. Why do people hold these "irrational" or false beliefs about the world and themselves? Can people change such beliefs? My premise is that emotions are central to explaining both the origin of irrational beliefs and in uncovering ways to best alter them.
How do emotions influence the way we perceive, evaluate, and remember the world? A rich body of work suggests that emotions exert a powerful impact not only on how we feel, but on how we relate to the world on multiple distinct levels (i.e., sensory perception to decision-making). My research aims to better understand this interplay between emotion and cognition. I am particularly interested in moral decision-making.
Finally, I am interested in how other people influence our cognitive and affective processes. Here I address the following questions: how does the presence of other individuals alter emotional responses to distress? Can we use the power of social influence to engender positive outcomes (e.g., reduce racial prejudice or increase altruistic behavior)?