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Film Detective is a game for adolescents on the autism spectrum to teach a virtual agent about theory of mind, or the ability to ascribe mental states (such as beliefs, desires, and emotions) to other people and to use these concepts in interpreting others’ actions.

This game is under development through a partnership between the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development.

Funding comes through a 2018 IES/ NCSER grant. Film Detective is based on an adaptation of the Betty’s Brain science education platform, also developed at Vanderbilt with a 2006 IES/ NCER grant.

Research Team

Principal Investigator:

  • Maithilee Kunda, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Project Lead:

  • Roxanne Rashedi, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Co-Investigators:

  • Gautam Biswas, Professor, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Pablo Juarez, Director, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD)
  • Zachary Warren, Executive Director, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD)

Collaborators and Team Members (listed alphabetically):

  • Zhanwen Chen, Research Assistant, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Morgan Elrod-Erickson, Story Developer, Dept. of Creative Writing
  • Bryan Hollis, Story Developer, Dept. of Creative Writing
  • Chris Ketchum, UX Design, Dept. of Creative Writing
  • Amy Kinsman, Educational Consultant, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD)
  • Shiyao Li, Research Assistant, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Marian Rushdy, Research Engineer, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • Amy Swanson, Research Coordinator, Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD)
  • Mandy Zi, Research Assistant, Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science