Laboratory for Social Computational Neuroscience

Predicting other peoples’ beliefs, desires, and intentions is a primary function of human cognition and is essential to thrive in our complex social world. To do this efficiently and successfully, we must form complex and imprecise representations of individuals and social groups based on information we receive through personal and vicarious experience. It also requires that we update those representations in light of new information, integrate multiple sources of information, and effectively deploy all of this to guide our interactions. Social psychology has long investigated the processes involved, and social neuroscience has begun to identify their neural correlates. Still missing, however, is a comprehensive, theoretically-informed, and mechanistic understanding of the specific computations that constitute such social processes.

Our research reconstrues theoretical constructs from social psychology (e.g. trait learning, implicit evaluations, theory-of-mind) within the model-based framework of computational neuroscience. To achieve this, we integrate a wide range of techniques including: social psychology, human brain imaging, neuroeconomics, computational modeling of learning and decision-making, cognitive and clinical psychology. The long-term goal of the lab is the development of a comprehensive model of the computations that give rise to our representations of social objects (e.g. people and groups) in our environment.

Lab Philosophy: If we can do great science, have a lot of fun, and make some tasty scones along the way, we've won!