Ben Strauber is interested in examining frictions that exist between people from different backgrounds, and strategies used to address those frictions, through the lens of neuroscience. During his PhD in Neuroscience at Stanford University, Dr. Strauber used EEG to study differences in how a listener’s brain processes speech in their own versus another accent. His work identified both phonetic and social drivers of these neural differences, in one case using a social psychological intervention to shift them.
At the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology, Dr. Strauber will continue using EEG to examine neural correlates of cross-group interactions and the outcome of interventions intended to impact them, but he will move from researching individual neural activity to investigating inter-brain coupling—how neural activity is correlated between individuals who are engaged in a task together. In one project, he will use a perspective-taking intervention (getting an individual from one background to take the perspective of an individual from another background) to drive closeness between individuals of two different social groups (Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians) and observe any corresponding changes in inter-brain coupling. In a second project, Dr. Strauber will collaborate with engineers in his research lab to develop a novel process designed to help participants modulate their own inter-brain coupling. Practical implications of these projects range from fostering reconciliation between people in conflict to nurturing communication skills in individuals with social deficits.
Alongside his research, Dr. Strauber looks forward to the opportunity to learn both Arabic and Hebrew that living in Haifa will provide.