10th Anniversary Session: Social Neuroscience in The City. Symposium in honor of Prof. John T. Cacioppo.

Friday, October 18, 1:30 - 3:15 pm, West Pavilion Auditorium

Chair & Keynote: Peggy Mason
Speakers: Peggy Mason, Angela Grippo
, Stacy Rosenbaum, Sarah London, Josh Correll and Agustin Ibanez.

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TALK 1: The Neurobiology of Helping: Lessons from Order Rodentia

Peggy Mason, Department of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Among mammals, social interactions are critical for survival of the individual and the species. Moreover, by facilitating safety, food procurement, shelter and well-being, sociality also allows for longer, more rewarding lives. We have found that rats deliberately liberate a conspecific who is trapped. Helping persists even when the free rat is unable to physically interact with the liberated rat. Yet, helping is resource-depleting, requiring emotional regulation, and is applied in a socially selective manner, occurring only for rats of a familiar type. Reminiscent of the human bystander effect, rats are more likely to help in the presence of naïve rats and less likely to help in the presence of non-helper (confederate) rats. Moreover, the effect of bystanders is dependent on the helping rats’ familiarity with the bystander rats. In sum, rat helping shows many of the same characteristics as helping in humans.


TALK 2: Emotion and the Heart: The Role of Social Neuroscience (From the City and Beyond)

Angela J. Grippo, Northern Illinois University

Negative emotions and affective disorders, such as depression and anxiety, interact bi-directionally with autonomic and cardiovascular functions.  Behavioral and neurobiological responses to the social environment may contribute to the association of negative emotions and cardiovascular disease.  The prairie vole is a valuable translational model for examining the interactions of social behaviors with emotion and cardiovascular function, given its reliance on the social environment and sensitivity to negative social experiences.  Social stressors in prairie voles – such as the disruption of established social bonds and social isolation – alter behavior, autonomic function, and central nervous system processes.  It is critical to also explore strategies to prevent or reverse the negative behavioral and neurobiological consequences of social stress.  The study of neural and social mechanisms underlying emotion and autonomic function in prairie voles will inform our understanding of affective disorders and cardiovascular disease in humans.  Dedication: This presentation is given in fond memory of John Cacioppo.


TALK 3: Early Life Adversity, Social Connectedness, and Health Outcomes Among Wild Female Baboons in Amboseli National Park, Kenya

Stacy Rosenbaum, PhD., Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame

Many studies find that early life adversity (ELA) produces negative long-term outcomes in a wide variety of species. In savannah baboons, the cumulative effects of different sources of socio-environmental ELA (e.g. drought, maternal death, competing siblings) have been linked to dramatically shorter adult lifespans, but we do not yet understand the mechanism(s) by which ELA and longevity are connected. The biological embedding hypothesis predicts that early adversity will be linked to poor social relationships and HPA dysregulation in adulthood. However, strong and supportive relationships in adulthood may offer an opportunity to mitigate HPA dysregulation. We investigated the connections among ELA, social connectedness, and fecal glucocorticoids (fGC; a proxy for HPA dysregulation), in 200 wild female baboons in Amboseli, Kenya. Results from mediation models indicate that, after controlling for relevant reproductive state and socioecological variation, ELA predicted higher adult fGC levels and weaker social connectedness to other females in adulthood. Females with stronger adult social connections also had lower fGC levels, independent of ELA. Despite this, we found only a modest role for ELA-fGC mediation via social connectedness. Results are generally consistent with predictions derived from the biological embedding hypothesis.


TALK 4: Neural Properties that Promote and Limit the Ability to Learn from Social Interactions

Sarah E London,

Developmental social interactions can have profound and life-long consequences on learned patterns of behavior. In humans, a striking example of this is the acquisition of language. Similarity, juveniles of our animal model, the zebra finch songbird, learn to sing from adult "tutors." Interestingly, only male zebra finches sing and their social interactions with tutors are only effective for song learning during a restricted phase of development. We can thus identify genomic, epigenetic, molecular, and cellular neural properties that promote and limit the ability to learn across development, and parse intrinsic features of maturation from dynamic experience-dependent processes. By integrating multiple scales of neurobiology, we ultimately aim to predict neural states that are optimal for social learning during development.


TALK 5: Race, Face Recognition, and Mistaken Interpretations about the Role of the Eyes

Josh Correll, University of Colorado Boulder

In 2014, Kawakami and colleagues argued that perceivers fixate on the eyes of a face for a longer period of time when viewing a member of a racial ingroup rather than a member of a racial outgroup. This conclusion is probably correct. However, the authors went on to argue that increased attention to the eyes helps perceivers individuate faces. They suggested that, because eyes offer especially rich information about identity, extended attention to the eyes of same-race faces facilitates recognition; and failure to devote time to the eyes of cross-race faces leads perceivers to have more trouble recognizing them. These claims are probably incorrect. We show that their original conclusion stems from an error in the analysis and is not actually supported by the data. We then report two additional studies exploring the effect of race on both behavioral measures of face processing (as measured by an eye tracker) and on recognition. Using a complex strategy to partition the behavioral measures, we show that integrative face processing (performing many fixations and moving the eyes across the image) is strongly related to recognition. We repeatedly test for evidence that extra attention to the eyes facilitates recognition, and this evidence never emerges.


TALK 6: From the Social Lab to the Cognition in the Wild: The Legacy of John Cacioppo

Agustin Ibanez, Institute of Cognitive and Translational Neuroscience (INCYT), INECO Foundation, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina; National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Argentina; Center for Social and Cognitive Neuroscience (CSCN), School of Psychology, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago de Chile, Chile; GBHI-UCSF, San Francisco, California, US

Having overcome several shortcomings of old-fashioned neuroscience, social cognitive affective neuroscience (SCAN) represents a promising new approach. Nevertheless, SCAN entails new challenges for a translation into everyday cognitive life. Most of SCAN still conceives human cognition as resulting from the operation of compartmentalized, reflexive, and context-free mechanisms. Our experimental paradigms have provided precise correlates for fragments of analytically decomposed units, such as bodiless faces, intention-blind interactions, language-free actions, and situation-independent words. We have accumulated massive knowledge about isolated phenomena that never manifest as such outside the laboratory. However, as pioneering highlighted by John Cacioppo, the mind is situated beyond experimental precautions in its daily workings. Social interactions in real life involve continuous and active negotiations with other people in profoundly changing conditions. From a theoretical viewpoint, the theories supporting segregated models, the limits of multilevel and transdisciplinary co-construction, and the theoretical distance among disciplines represent essential barriers. I will propose a new research framework called Intercognition. I will provide support for this view from neurocognitive functions, neuropsychiatric disturbances, and naturalistic social cognitive process.  I will propose experimental designs (tapping the social-linguistic-motoric triangle; second-person and two-person neuroscience, semiotic integration of multimodal process) and methodological implementations (dynamics of self-organizing networks; machine learning; hyperscanning; decoding) to foster a more naturalistic and ecological approach to intercognition.  By moving towards this horizon, the SCAN will plunge from the laboratory into the core of social life.