The social brain

PI: Frank Van Overwalle

C4N researchers:

Elien Heleven

Jeroen Delplanque




Our lab asks novel questions about underlying neurological processes of social processes by using state-of-the-art imaging methods such as fMRI.

One of our interests in social neuroscience is spontaneous social inferences. We explore the question of whether earlier social neuroscience findings in which participants make such inferences explicitly, generalize to the case where these inferences are made implicitly. We also explore the similarities and differences between different judgments about other’s such as goals, beliefs, traits and so on. We also investigate how social context, groups, and norms factors impact on these inferences, and which brain areas are involved and when.

Another interest refers to construal level, which refers to the level at which social and non-social events are construed and defined. This strongly determines how we interpret these events and which brain area is involved.

For some time now we investigated the memory representation or “code” of social concepts in the brain: traits, or the agents (persons or groups) that engage in trait-implying behaviors. For this we use a methodology known as fMRI repetition suppression (Elien Heleven & Jeroen Delplanque)

Recent studies at our lab suggest that the cerebellum is involved in social processes, and we explore now the role of the cerebellum in social cognition.

More information on the Social Brain Project