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Research Interests

The NeuroDesign Research Lab investigates embodied cognition and cognitive processes including human creativity, visual thinking, and tactile thinking in the activities of design. A particular research interest developed over the last thirty years is design team collaboration and related thinking patterns.  

Collaborative Industry opportunity 

If you are interested in joining our effort in researching design thinking, teams and practice, please contact us and join our Affiliate Program

Current Affiliate Partners: 

Current Research

Prototyping and sketching in Remote Collaboration 

  • Most research in design is investigated through the means of sketching and in person collaboration
  • This study investigates the reasoning patterns in sketching and physical prototyping in remote collaboration
  • Team: Lawrence Domingo, Larry Leifer, and Jan Auernhammer 

Psychological Safety in Remote Collaboration 

  • Psychological Safety is one of the most influential team factors. In a recent study at Google 
  • This study investigates changes in psychological safety within short team collaboration
  • Team: Lawrence Domingo, Marius Gutzeit, Larry Leifer, and Jan Auernhammer 

Entrepreneurial Cognition 

  • Do Managers and Entrepreneurs think differently? 
  • This study investigates the similarities and differences in cognition in Entrepreneurs and Managers 
  • Team: Oliver Xie, Katerina Monlux, Jan Auernhammer, Neeraj Sonalkar, Jennifer Bruno, Manish Saggar

K-12 Empathy Design Thinking Courses in China (at BNU & with TokyoTech) 

  • How can K-12 students learn, practice, and apply design thinking in everyday life?  
  • This study investigates learnability, creativity, and team collaboration through cognitive fNIRS experiments. 
  • Team: Wei Liu, Jing Qiu, Zhuo (Rachel) Han, Hui Wang, Qiandong Wang, Jan Auernhammer, Takumi Ohashi, Larry Leifer

Social Inclusion for Elderly with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in a Digitalized World (at BNU & with TokyoTech) 

  • How can we include and engage elderly with MCI in the digitalized world? 
  • This study investigates cognition of pathological aging in everyday interactions with digital devices, and NeuroDesign and inclusive design solutions. 
  • Team: Di Zhu, Abdullah Al Muhmud, Wei Liu, Dahua Wang, Huamao Peng, Jun Wang, Jan Auernhammer, Takumi Ohashi, Larry Leifer


List of publications


  • Auernhammer, J., Sonalkar, N., Xie, H., Monlux, K., Bruno, J. and Saggar, M. 2022. Examining the neuro-cognitive basis of applied creativity in entrepreneurs and managers. In Meinel & Leifer (ed.) Design Thinking Research. Springer



  • Auernhammer J. Liu W. Ohashi T. Leifer L. Byler E. Pan W. (2021) NeuroDesign: Embracing Neuroscience Instruments to Investigate Human Collaboration in Design. Human Interaction Emerging Technologies and Future Applications III. IHIET 2020. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing vol 1253. Springer Cham. 

  • Ohashi, T. Auernhammer, J., Liu,W., Pan, W. and Leifer, L. 2020. NeuroDesignScience: Systematic Literature Review of Current Research on Design using Neuroscience Techniques