PhD Personal Health Informatics Alumnus ’17, Oliver Saunders Wilder, continues research on leveraging innovative technologies in neuroscience and psychology research.
Oliver Saunders Wilder recently graduated from the Personal Health Informatics PhD, a joint program between Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science and Bouvé College of Health Sciences, but his interdisciplinary mindset began many years prior to the doctoral program. In his undergraduate studies, he focused on both psychology and engineering. His decision to join the Personal Health Informatics program in 2012, Oliver attributes to his clinical work with children with developmental disabilities and his work at Affectiva, Inc. – a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spinout company – where he co-developed and then managed the product development of a wearable ambulatory autonomic sensor.
Under the mentorship of Professor Matthew Goodwin, he pursued research on leveraging innovative technology for psychological research, specifically on social-emotional development, co-regulation, bio-behavioral synchrony, and autism spectrum disorders.
When asked, “What aspect of what you do is most interesting,” Oliver responded,
“We typically think of our physiology – our heart rate, our breathing – as being relatively independent of those around us, however in many cases this turns out not to be the case. In my research, I frequently find that our physiology is significantly influenced by that of people with whom we interact in a complex bidirectional fashion. In many cases, this leads the physiology of individuals in relationship behaves more like a coupled system than like two individuals. I believe that this highlights that our brains are wired for social connection, and speaks to the influence of social relationships on body and mind.”
Oliver is currently a Simons Fellow at MIT’s Simons Center for the Social Brain. Oliver aims to further develop, validate, and disseminate tools and methods to enable the use of interpersonal physiological synchrony measures by researchers conducting both basic and translational research into social and affective functioning in ASD.