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LOUPS Conference - Technology and Psychology

14th March 2020, LSE, London

Each year our London branch (LOUPS) holds a one-day conference that aims to give the opportunity to both OU students and anyone else who is interested in psychology to hear from leading researchers and practitioners in the field. 

In 2020 we are focusing on the intersection of Psychology and Technology. This is a topic in which there is both huge public interest and disquiet about the way in which advanced technology is affecting our everyday lives. Technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning are hailed as both saviours and destroyers, offering huge potential and catastrophe at the same time. We are showcasing how tools such as these can help us as psychologists - in particular, how they can help us gain a better understanding of how people think and learn, how they feel and behave, and as a consequence of this knowledge, how their lives can be improved.

The Conference is open to all students, graduates, academics and practitioners, both within and outside of the Open University. It will appeal to all those interested in social behaviour and those working or interested in applied psychology and in the fields of computing and artificial intelligence.


Daniel Freeman

Professor Daniel Freeman (University of Oxford)

'Virtual reality (VR) psychological treatment for mental health disorders'

Daniel Freeman is an NIHR Research Professor and Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, a consultant clinical psychologist in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, a fellow of University College Oxford, and leads the Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis (O-CAP) research group at the University of Oxford. Daniel has been working with virtual reality (VR) since 2001 and is a co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of Oxford VR, a University of Oxford spinout company.

"Mental health disorders are very common but far too few people receive the best treatments. The case will be made that much greater access to the best psychological treatments can be achieved using automated delivery in virtual reality (VR). With virtual reality simulations, individuals can repeatedly experience their problematic situations and be taught, via evidence-based psychological treatments delivered by a virtual coach, how to overcome difficulties.

A key advantage of VR is that individuals know that a computer environment is not real but their minds and bodies behave as if it is real; hence, people will much more easily face difficult situations in VR than in real life and be able to try out new therapeutic strategies. VR treatments can also be made much more engaging and appealing for patients than traditional therapies. A systematic programme of work developing and testing automated VR psychological treatments for conditions such as fear of heights, social anxiety, and schizophrenia will be described. This will include a description of the gameChange project (www.gameChangeVR.com), funded by the NHS National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)."

David Leslie

Dr David Leslie (The Turing Institute)

‘Social and ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence’

David Leslie is the Ethics Fellow within the public policy programme at The Turing Institute. He was a 2017-2018 Mellon-Sawyer Fellow in Technology and the Humanities at Boston University, where he concentrated on the ethics and politics of emerging media and computationally based innovation as well as on issues of accountability, explainability, transparency, and stakeholder participation in the governance of machine learning research and innovation. David has also recently been appointed as a Fellow at MIT’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values, and has previously taught at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values (UCHV), where he also participated in the UCHV's 2017-2018 research collaboration with Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy on "Technology Ethics, Political Philosophy and Human Values: Ethical Dilemmas in AI Governance."

Abstract to follow.

Angelo Cangelosi

Professor Angelo Cangelosi (Manchester University)

'Developmental robotics for Language-learning, Trust and Theory-of-mind'

Angelo Cangelosi is Professor of Machine Learning and Robotics at the University of Manchester (UK). This follows on his professorship of Artificial Intelligence and Cognition, and founding director role, at the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems at Plymouth University (UK). Cangelosi studied psychology and cognitive science at the Universities of Rome La Sapienza and at the University of Genoa, and was visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego and the University of Southampton. Angelo's main research expertise is on language grounding and embodiment in humanoid robots, developmental robotics, human-robot interaction, and on the application of neuromorphic systems for robot learning.

"Growing theoretical and experimental research on action and language processing and on number learning and gestures clearly demonstrates the role of embodiment in cognition and language processing. In psychology and neuroscience, this evidence constitutes the basis of embodied cognition, also known as grounded cognition. In robotics, these studies have important implications for the design of linguistic capabilities in cognitive agents and robots for human-robot communication, and have led to the new interdisciplinary approach of Developmental Robotics.

This talk will present examples of developmental robotics models and experimental results from iCub robot experiments on the embodiment biases in early word acquisition and grammar learning and experiments on pointing gestures and finger counting for number learning. It will then present a novel developmental robotics model, along with experiments, on Theory of Mind and its use for autonomous trust behavior in robots. The implications for the use of such embodied approaches for embodied cognition in AI and cognitive sciences, and for robot companion applications will also be discussed."

Tony Prescott

Professor Tony Prescott (University of Sheffield)

'Understanding Humans by Building Robots'

Tony Prescott (@tonyjprescott) is Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the University of Sheffield and the co-creator of the award-winning animal-like robots Scratchbot and MiRo, he has also worked to develop life-like behaviour for humanoid robots. His background mixes psychology and brain theory with robotics and artificial intelligence, and his research aims at answering questions about the human condition by creating synthetic entities with capacities such as perception, memory, emotion and sense of self. He is also a co-founder of Consequential Robotics, a UK start-up developing new kinds of assistive and companion robots. His research has been covered by the major news media including the BBC, CNN, Discovery Channel, Science Magazine and New Scientist.

"Can we build a robot that thinks and acts like a person and, if we could, what would that tell us about ourselves? This talk will explore how the approach of “brain-based robotics”— building robots that are controlled by computer models of the brain—is illuminating our understanding of human brains, minds and behaviour. Linking together research in brain science, psychology and robotics, I will argue that this “understanding through building” approach can help answer fundamental questions about the human condition including the mystery of the human “sense of self”."


  • Registration will take place in the ground floor reception area from 9.30am.
  • The event involves a series of 4 lectures with the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Talks start at 10.00am in the Wolfson Theatre (LG01) on the lower floor.
  • Tea and coffee breaks along with a break for lunch allow attendees to take time to socialise at the venue. Please note that lunch is not provided, but delegates can take advantage of the many food outlets available in the vicinity of the University.
  • LOUPS will hold their AGM from 13.40 -14.00. The meeting will be held in the Wolfson Theatre and everybody is welcome to attend.
  • The day finishes at around 5.30pm.

The timetable for this event and the programme will be available to download from here closer to the event.


Some of the things delegates have said about the previous LOUPS Conferences.

"This was an excellent conference, very impressive range of highly qualified speakers and a very well run event."

"Many thanks to all the committee for making such a brilliant one day conference happen."

"I found all the talks truly fascinating and very much worthwhile. ... All the speakers were brilliant ..."

"Great event, covered a very interesting range of topics."


LSE New Academic Building

The New Academic Building,
London School of Economics,
54 Lincoln's Inn Fields,


Click here for information on accessibility, parking and other related facilities.

Travel and directions

The nearest underground station is Holborn, approx. five minutes walk away.

Click here for directions to the New Academic Building, London School of Economics.


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