Dr Bahar Tunçgenç

Bahar Tunçgenç

Research Affiliate

Email: bahar.tuncgenc@anthro.ox.ac.uk; tuncgenc@kennedykrieger.org

Professional Employment:

Post-doctoral fellow, Neurology Department, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine & Center for Neurodevelopmental and Imaging Research, Kennedy Krieger Institute (2017 – present)

Postdoctoral Associate, University of Oxford (2016-2018); Research Affiliate, University of Oxford (2018-2020)


DPhil Anthropology (ICEA, University of Oxford)
Thesis title: Movement synchrony, social bonding and pro-sociality in ontogeny (Supervisor: Dr Emma Cohen; Examiners: Dr Sabine Hunnius, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Bahaviour, and Dr Jonathan Jong, Coventry University).

BSc Psychology & Biology minor (Middle East Technical University)

MSc Cognitive Science (Middle East Technical University)

General research Interests: Developmental and evolutionary psychology, social cognition, pro-sociality, imitation, movement synchronisation, play, autism spectrum conditions.

Current Research: 

My research investigates the role of interpersonal movement dynamics in facilitating social cognition and bonding across childhood in typical populations and in children with autism.

My doctoral work revealed that performing rhythmically synchronised movements with another peer facilitates social bonding and pro-social behaviours and alleviates negative group biases. In collaborative work with Dr Christine Fawcett from Uppsala University, we showed that rhythmically synchronised movements influence infants’ social affiliation preferences and third-party judgments.

Currently in my post-doctoral research, I am using motion tracking technologies to investigate the spontaneous tendencies of children with autism to match movements with another individual in the form of rhythmic synchronisation and mimicry. In addition, I am collaborating with computer vision experts at Johns Hopkins University to develop imitation-based behavioural interventions to improve motor and social skills of children with autism.

These investigations can (a) improve our understanding of the motor roots of social-communicative functions, and (b) inform behavioural treatments that facilitate social interactions of children with autism.


Tunçgenç, B., Zhao, Y., Caffo, B., & Mostofsky, S. H. (in prep.). Decreased spontaneous entrainment to rhythmical movement in children with autism and its associations with social-communicative functioning.

Jefferies, M., Tunçgenç, B., & Cohen, E. (in press). The role of physical activity and touch in children’s social bonding. International Journal of Comparative Psychology.

Tunçgenç, B., & Jefferies, M. (2018). Play. In The International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology, H. Callan (Ed.). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Fawcett, C., & Tunçgenç, B. (2017). Infants’ use of movement synchrony to infer social affiliation in others. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.014

Tunçgenç, B. (2017). Movement synchrony, joint actions and collective agency in infancy. In N. Enfield & P. Kockelman (Eds.) Distributed Agency (pp. 169-180). Oxford University Press.

Tunçgenç, B. & Cohen, E. (2016). Interpersonal movement synchrony facilitates pro-social behavior in children’s peer-play. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12505

Tunçgenç, B. & Cohen, E. (2016). Movement synchrony forges social bonds across group divides. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(782). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00782

Tunçgenç, B. (2016). Commentary: A construct divided: Prosocial behavior as helping, sharing, and comforting subtypes. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(491). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00491

Tunçgenç, B., Cohen, E., & Fawcett, C. (2015). Rock with me: The role of movement synchrony in infants’ social and nonsocial choices. Child Development, 86(3). doi: 976-984. 10.1111/cdev.12354

Tunçgenç, B., Hohenberger, A. & Rakoczy, H. (2013). Early understanding of normativity and freedom to act in Turkish toddlers, Journal of Cognition and Development.

Tunçgenç, B. (2010). Towards a comprehensive socio-psychological perspective: A critique of social dominance theory. Journal of European Psychology Students, 2, 1-8.

In addition, I have given invited talks in several universities and presented my work in conferences, including: Society for Neuroscience (2018), International Conference on Infant Studies (2014 & 2018), British Psychological Socety Developmental Psychology Section Conference (2016), Society for Research in Child Development (2015), Budapest CEU Conference om Cognitive Development (2015).

Outreach and Media Engagement:

Volunteer, Project Bridge Baltimore (2018 - present)

Live YouTube interview with Turkish Academic Fellowship (2017; in Turkish)

Volunteer, Autism Family Support Oxfordshire (2015-2016)

Live interview with BBC Radio Oxford (2016)

Press releases: