Labs

Luke J. Chang

Computational Social Affective Neuroscience Laboratory

The central goal of the Computational Social Affective Neuroscience Laboratory (COSAN Lab) is to understand the computational processes underlying social interactions and their neurobiological substrates. The lab combines techniques from psychology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, and computer science to develop and test novel models about how psychological processes (e.g., emotions & expectations) are represented in the brain (e.g., insula, ACC, ventral striatum, & OFC) and motivate behavioral actions such as making a decision. The lab is directed by Luke Chang and seeks to better understand how social interactions can both modulate and regulate our emotions, which has implications for broader health outcomes such as treating depression and anxiety, and managing acute and chronic pain.

Brad Duchaine

Social Perception Laboratory

The Social Perception Laboratory, directed by principal investigator Brad Duchaine, uses neuropsychology, psychophysics, neuroimaging, twin studies, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to explore the cognitive, neural, developmental, and genetic basis of social perception. A major focus of the lab is on individuals with impairments that affect their ability to recognize faces, a condition called prosopagnosia. Focusing on evidence from studying prosopagnosia and other selective deficits helps explain the nature of the mechanisms used for social perception, where they are located in the brain, how these mechanisms develop, and if training can improve their functioning.

Todd Heatherton

Heatherton Laboratory

The Heatherton Laboratory applies both behavioral and brain imaging techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to explore a range of cognitive and social neuroscience topics such as memory, emotion, reward, and the self. Principal investigator Todd Heatherton directs the research using a social brain sciences approach, which combines theories and methods of evolutionary psychology, social cognition, and cognitive neuroscience to examine the neural underpinnings of social behavior.

Jay G. Hull

Hull Laboratory

The Hull Laboratory uses theory building and model testing to study the structure of self-knowledge and the dynamics of self-regulation. The lab is directed by principal investigator Jay Hull and focuses on research into the cognitive processes associated with self-awareness and self-consciousness; the affective processes associated with self-perception and self-regulation—with a special focus on depression; and the behavioral consequences of self-regulation—with a special focus on behavioral deviance.

William Michael Kelley

Brain Imaging Laboratory

The Brain Imaging Laboratory (BIL) applies both behavioral and brain imaging techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to explore a range of cognitive and social neuroscience topics such as memory, emotion, reward, and the self. The lab is directed by principal investigator Bill Kelly and explores such questions as:

  • How does the human brain form and maintain memories?
  • How do cognitive and emotional experiences give rise to an individual's unique sense of self?
  • How does the human brain represent different kinds of reward? And how do we self-regulate against short-term rewards when they can lead to maladaptive habits down the road?

Paul J. Whalen

The Whalen Laboratory

Directed by principal investigator Paul Whalen, The Whalen Laboratory uses affective-cognitive neuroscience to better understand the neural substrates of biologically relevant learning in humans. The lab studies the human amygdala as a model system for such learning. Building upon animal and human research documenting the role of the amygdala in emotion, specifically fear, they aim to expose the more subtle abilities of this system in the modulation of moment-to-moment levels of vigilance. In addition, the lab studies subjects with anxiety disorders with the notion that something has gone wrong in the way their amygdala communicates with the rest of the brain.

Thalia Wheatley

Social Intelligence Laboratory

The Dartmouth Social Intelligence Laboratory’s (DSIL) conducts research into how our brains organize information and create our experience of the world. The lab is directed by principal investigator Thalia Wheatley, and focuses on how we understand and react to other human beings and how our brains evolved to handle the computations underlying this social intelligence. This includes how our brains recognize other minds from form and dynamics and how we use spatial distance to understand friendship. In addition to their primary research focus, the lab is currently collaborating on two projects examining free will and morality.