This month, together with my colleagues from Penn State University and University of Illinois at Chicago, we published two important papers:
The first is a review paper, written by invitation from the prestigious journal “Proceedings of the IEEE”: Unlocking the Emotional World of Visual Media: An Overview of the Science, Research, and Impact of Understanding Emotion.
The second, “Bodily expressed emotion understanding through integrating Laban movement analysis”, which was published in the open access journal ‘Patterns’, was not only featured on the cover of that journal, but was also covered by an article in the Penn State Daily News.
In this new publication we demonstrated how automatic emotion recognition from videos of people moving daily movements, was enhanced and became more accurate, when in addition to traditional computer vision techniques we used AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques to also identify in the people’s movements specific motor elements, which as part of my previous research, were found to be associated in our brain with specific emotions. These identified motor elements were then used as additional intermediate features in the emotion recognition algorithms. The combination of traditional computer vision techniques with using those motor elements as indicators for specific emotions, significantly increased emotion recognition precision, beyond any other currently known automatic emotion recognition methods.
This month I participated as a support staff in the 4th segment (11 days) of the “Children with special needs” certification program of the Anat Baniel Method: Neuromovement. As such, I attended and participated in all the lessons, lectures and demonstrations of that segment. Going over the training material again, after already having some work experience, enhanced and deepened my knowledge and understanding of this method, and was very inspiring. It was also great to meet old friends as well as new future colleagues.
- I have been part of a group of scientists from Pennsylvania State University and University of Illinois at Chicago and a few Certified Laban Movement Analysts, who have gathered together to write a grant proposal to NSF (USA National Science Foundation) for creating a huge data set of video clips of people expressing emotions during their every-day life. Each video clip in this data set will be accompanied by ample information such as the emotion expressed, the context of the video, analysis of the movement, the facial expression, and more. This data set will be available for use by any scientist for developing, using machine learning, various innovative applications which involve automatic emotion recognition, such as creating social robots, interactive gaming, biofeedback, animation, mental health telemedicine through mood/emotional state monitoring of patients at home, and more. I am very happy to report that we were recently awarded this very competitive and prestigious grant of $2,000,000 for three years.
- During this month I attended an Introduction workshop for the Rosen Method: Bodywork. This is an interesting method which is based on attentive touch. Using hands that listen rather than manipulate, the practitioner focuses on bringing chronic muscle tension to the client awareness, through touch and words. As relaxation occurs and the breath deepens, unconscious feelings, attitude, and memories may emerge. As this process unfolds, habitual tension and old patterns may be released, freeing the client to experience more aliveness, new choices in life, and a greater sense of well-being.
- I also attended this month the 4 days international conference: “multisensory integration in action” which took place in Maalot, Israel. I heard many excellent and thought provoking talks, had inspiring conversations during the poster sessions and coffee breaks, and was reminded of how much I love scientific conferences and the cognitive stimulation they provide. Because of COVID I haven’t gone to any conference during the past 3 years and going to this one was a delightful treat.
- During this month I travelled to the Netherlands to participate in two advanced continuing education workshops with
Suzi Marks, who is an Anat Baniel method: Neuromovement trainer and a Feldenkrais practitioner: Suzi’s 3 days
‘foundation’ workshop, and her 4 days ‘transitions and the Sensory System’ workshop.
- During the past few months, I was busy mainly with some personal things: moving to a new apartment and preparing
the wedding of my two sons. In April, both my sons came from abroad to get married in Israel in a double wedding.
I usually don’t share here events from my private (as opposed to professional) life, but this was an exceptional and very special event.
- This month I taught again at the Neuroscience Applied to Architectural Design Master program in Venice, Italy. I was planning to go to Venice for live teaching, but the new COVID wave in December and the resulting travel restrictions forced me to stay in Israel and teach again through Zoom.
- I gave a presentation titled ‘Neurophysiological mechanism underlying emotion regulation through movement and its application in dance movement therapy using Laban Movement Analysis’ at the 18th Annual International Conference (Virtual) of the Creative Movement Therapy Association of India (CMTAI).
- The Anat Baniel course ‘From fixing to connecting’ has ended this month. This was an amazing invaluable course which taught me a lot, and I am sad it is over. I am looking forward to the beginning of a new practitioners course in which I plan to participate as an assistant.
- During this month I have started my studies with Lior Pessach to become an internationally certified Feldenkrais practitioner. In addition to widening, deepening and improving my knowledge and practice of the ABM Neuromovement method, these studies and the official certificate which is recognized by the health authorities in Israel, will enable me to provide my services through the Health Maintenance Organization-HMO (‘Kupat Cholim’ in Israel). This, I hope, will make my services less expensive and more affordable and accessible to more families of children with special needs.
- In addition, I started this month a 10-weeks zoom program led by of Anat Baniel called ‘From fixing to connecting’. In this program, aimed at parents of children with special needs and ABM Neuromovement practitioners, Anat provides in-depth explanations and demonstrates through videos and through answers to participants’ questions, how to apply her 9 essentials to upgrade our own and the children’s brain, and improve daily function.
- During this month I have started to participate in developmental guidance groups led by Gili Pery, an experienced physical therapist, Feldenkrais teacher and Child’Space practitioner. In these groups I help Gili to educate, guide and help parents to understand and facilitate through various activities, their babies’ sensory-motor development. Besides great pleasure and satisfaction, this volunteering work provides me the experience of working with and learning about the variety and range of healthy sensory-motor development during infancy
-During the past two months I have participated in a new continuing education program that Anat Baniel has created as a prelude for the Mastery Workshop: ‘working with children with special needs’. Because of the inability to get together for a frontal, hands-on course due to COVID-19, Anat has created this special program, in which we watched videos of her working with children and some of her past lectures on this topic, and then discussed what we have seen on a weekly basis using Zoom conference calls. The participation in this program enriched and contributed a lot to the quality of my work with children, and brought it to an entirely new level.
-This month I graduated from another continuing education mastery workshop of the Anat Baniel Method: Neuromovement: Working with High Performers
-This month I taught again at the Neuroscience Applied to Architectural Design Master program program in Venice, Italy. Unlike last year, when my teaching took place in Venice itself just before the pandemic started, this year the teaching was done through Zoom and lasted two days. I hope that by next year things will get back to normal and I will be able to teach face to face again, being physically in Venice.
-In addition, I presented (by invitation) in the ‘Analysis of Body Motion Behavior Workshop’ organized by Prof. Bernhard Seeber for The Collaborative Research Centre (Sonderforschungsbereich) SFB 1330 "Hearing Acoustics: Perceptive Principles, Algorithms and Applications" (HAPPAA) group. The SFB is funded by the German Research Foundation to explore the principles of speech communication and to promote the communication skills of the population due to improved hearing aids.
-Lastly, I finished and graduated my specialization of Anat Baniel Method: Neuromovement in Vitality and Anti-Aging.
-During the American Dance Therapy Association annual conference, I was awarded the Innovation Award,
“In recognition and gratitude for your contributions to the ADTA and the field of dance/movement therapy”.
-I was also invited to participate in the “Embodiment of Emotions” webinar, organized and hosted by
Universidad Autónoma de Chile. The webinar, which included presentations of three international
scientists, followed by a panel discussion, was subtitled in Spanish and then posted on Youtube for the
-I continue my studies of Anat Baniel Methode:Neuromovement and did the second segment of the mastery
workshop: ‘Vitality and Anti-Aging’. I also continue my work at the clinic and started to have some adult
clients as well.
-After six months of being lost in the mail during the initial chaos of COVID-19, I finally got my CMA
(Certified Movement Analyst) certificate:
-To adjust to the new COVID-19 reality of social distancing and avoidance of touch, Anat Baniel has
developed a new aspect to her method: Online At-Home Coaching for parents, on how to apply the
method’s nine essentials when interacting with their children.
In parallel to continuing my Vitality and Anti-Aging Mastery Workshop, I also studied the first segment of
-After the strict lockdown during March and April, children with special needs are now allowed to get their
treatments, and I reopened my clinic to this population.
-Continuing my training and deepening my knowledge of the Anat Baniel Methode: Neuromovement
(ABMNM), I started this month the first segment of the ABMNM Continuing Education Mastery Workshop
-I taught my first intensive in my clinic to a very sweet three years old girl with a genetic disorder which slows down learning, causing a developmental delay. I also had the first lesson with an eight years old boy with Cerebral Palsy, and was forced to delay the rest of the intensive until further notice because of the Corona Virus.
-This month I attended Segment 5 of the Neuromovement training to teach children with special needs. Because this was the first time ever that Anat taught this segment, whose topic was ‘Movement, Thinking and cognition’, many of the participants were very experienced practitioners and as a result, the level and depth of the teaching and learning experience was outstanding and extremely inspirational.
-Before segment 5 I spent a whole day teaching (by invitation) architecture students at the
effects of the environment on people’s movements and through their movements on their emotions. In the afternoon we discussed the application of this theory, and the students experienced it themselves through movement exercises. The students were very cooperative, were not shy of moving in various creative ways, and we all had a lot of fun.
-I finally completed all the preparation for opening my Anat Baniel method: Neuromovement clinic in the Carmel Center in Haifa, Israel, and I am now welcoming new clients.
-In addition I have started to practice this method as a volunteer in an additional place: A nursery school for children with special needs: “Eshcol Ganim Flora””, where I have been working with two girls. Already after the first lesson, one of the girls who is usually very sleepy ‘woke up’ and stayed awake and alert for the rest of the morning, and the spasticity in her arm was reduced. The other girl “discovered” her leg and seemed to become aware of it. The satisfaction working with them is immense!
-I finished my final project and all my requirements for my Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS), and sent everything to LIMS (Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies). I am now looking forward to get from them my CMA certificate.
-In addition, I participated this month in two excellent scientific educational activities:
-An evening of lectures at the Early Childhood community Clinic which is part of the
- Cogneuro2020 – A two days international neuroscience conference, organized by Tel Aviv University.
-This month I graduated the ABM Continuing Education Mastery Workshop-Neuromovement ®:
Working with Children with Special Needs
I am looking forward to open my practice in the beginning of 2020 and start working with children. Meanwhile, I have started to practice as a volunteer in “Gan Hayeled” in Haifa, which is a non-profit afternoon program for children with special needs
- Following the ADTA invitation, I participated as Israel’s representative, talking about dance-movement
therapy research in Israel, as part of the International Panel at the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) annual meeting in Miami, Florida.
- In addition, I presented at this conference a poster describing my student Tami Zeifert’s Master thesis research, in which she studied the relationship between proprioceptive acuity, emotion recognition, and emotional empathy.
- In the third segment of the Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement Continuing Education Mastery
Workshop for Children with Special needs, I had the amazing experience of doing two practicums:
One with a 5 years old girl with CP (Cerebral Palsy) and another with a 12 years old girl with ASD
(Autism Spectrum Disorder).
- My Master student Ayelet Melzer published her Master thesis as a paper in Frontiers in Psychology 10, 1389:
- This month I completed the last module of my Laban/Bartenieff Movement Studies (LBMS), and celebrated
together with the rest of my cohort in Laban Israel the graduation of a two years program. Once I will submit my
final project to LIMS (Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies), I will get my CMA (Certified Movement
Analyst) certificate and title.
- My PhD student published a paper of her dissertation: Spitzer, N., Shafir, T., Lerman, Y., & Werner, P. (2019).
The Relationship between Caregiver Burden and Emotion Recognition Deficits in Persons with MCI and Early AD:
The Mediating Role of Caregivers' Subjective Evaluations. Alzheimer disease and associated disorders.
- I attended another amazing segment of the
- I had an incredibly moving experience during the first segment of the Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement
Continuing Education Mastery Workshop for Children with Special needs, when I saw how a 4 months old
baby who had a cardiac arrest, was not responsive to anything and was diagnosed by the physicians as deaf
and blind, “woke up to life” after only a few sessions, started to respond to sound tried to catch with his hand
the finger of a practitioner, and looked at his father’s eyes instead of rolling his eyes to the ceiling.
- My colleague Rachelle Tsachor and I published a new paper:
Laban Movement Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(572). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00572
- This month I completed module 4A of my Laban Movement Studies in The Inspirees Institute in Shanghai,
Karen Studd and Cat Maguire were extraordinary teachers, the other students were very warm and welcoming,
Katee the translator did a wonderful job making me feel as comfortable as possible in this non-English speaking
country and the entire experience was wonderful and highly recommended.
- This month I graduate the basic training to become a practitioner of the Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement, and
I am looking forward to start my continuing education training in March, specializing in working with children with
celebrating this important milestone.
- On December 31st I was a guest speaker at the monthly ABC Robotics Seminar at Ben Gurion University, talking
about “Emotion Perception and Expression through Movement in Human-Robot Interaction”. The presentation, which
went very well, was followed by meetings with several faculty members with whom I hope to establish new research
- On November 12th together with my Colleague Rachelle Tsachor, I gave the presentation: “Laban and emotional
- Following an invitation from the conference organizer Prof Klaus Gramann, I gave an oral presentation: “Measuring brain
mechanisms underlying dance-therapy: past & future directions” at the 3ed International Mobile Brain/Body
- My colleague Rachelle Tsachor presented the application of our research in a workshop titled “Connecting Motion and
Emotion: Implications for Alexander Technique of Current Emotion Science” at the
- In addition, I continued my movement trainings and completed this month module 3 of my Laban/Bartenieff studies at
LIMS® to become a CMA (Certified Movement Analyst) and segment 7 of my
- My colleague Rachel Tsachor presented our unique research methodology for quantifying Laban movement analysis in an oral presentation titled “An LMA Methodology for statistical analysis of complex movement” at the
Laban 2018 International Conference in New York, NY.
- This month was full of educational activities. In addition to continuing my Laban/Bartenieff studies (module 2) and my
Anat Baniel Method: Neuromovement studies (segment 4), I attended the following:
- A day long seminar on:“The parental protective shield as the focus of therapeutic work with high-risk children”,
with Dr. Suzi Tortora
- In addition, my student Ayelet Meltzer presented the poster “Emotion recognition from movement: Associating specific
motor components with basic emotions” at the 14th Karniel Computational Motor Control Workshop (KCMCW), an
international computational motor control conference held in Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
- My colleague Dr. Arik Cheshin presented our study: “The effects of congruent vs.incongruent body and face
- I gave an oral presentation: “Brain and Behavior in Movement-Emotion Interaction” at the 26th Israel Society for
Neuroscience annual meeting in Eilat, Israel.
- My student Ayelet Meltzer presented her Master's thesis as a poster in the American Dance Therapy Association annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas.