Full course description
Social neuroscience (SN) is an interdisciplinary field that asks questions about topics traditionally of interest to social psychology (such as emotion regulation, attitude change, or stereotyping), economics and political science. To answer these questions, it uses methods traditionally employed by cognitive neuroscientists, such as functional brain imaging and neuropsychological patient analysis. By integrating the theories and methods of its parent disciplines, SN seeks to explain social and emotional behavior in terms of the interaction between three levels of analysis:
- The social level, which includes descriptions of experience, behavior, and context;
- The cognitive level, which specifies information processing mechanisms;
- The neural level, which specifies neural systems that instantiate these processes.
SN researchers are interested in questions such as: How can a group of brains be social? How does our brain enable us to know what other people think and feel? Is there a neural substrate for cooperation or aggression? Which brain circuits suppress prejudices? Are social emotions represented by the brain in a different way compared to basic emotions?
Although research on the biological correlates of social processes has been ongoing for decades, this approach has gone through a period of rapid expansion with the advent of new techniques like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Electroencephalography (EEG) and its derivative, the Event Related Potential (ERP). In addition, Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation techniques (NIBS) are used to study causal relations in cognitive processing, but also to “entrain” the brain to operate in a more optimal way.
Students are able to understand:
social decision-making, social cognition, emotion-regulation, empathy, moral judgment, aggression, social norms.