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Hilldale Lecture in Social Sciences – Uncovering our Social Brain: The Neural Signatures of Reciprocity, Transitivity and Identity in Human Groups

September 28, 2017 @ 4:30 pm


Hilldale Lecture in Social Sciences
Peter Bearman, PhD
Peter Bearman Poster

Humans are fundamentally social species, and the social networks in which we are embedded significantly determine our physical and psychological well being, shape what is possible for us to achieve and imagine, and provide the context for social action. Given their importance and their complexity, it makes sense to think that the effectively navigating the interatctions within these networks requires efficient mechanisms for processing complex multivalent social information about network members. This ability is so important that it may be among the foremost computational challenges that influenced our evolution, particularly the dramatic development of our “social brains.” This talk considers a set of findings from socializing cognitive social neuroscience that captures neural and social network data at multiple time points for interacting groups. We believe that we can identify neural mechanisms for the reproduction of inequality in poluarity in small groups. We likewise discover a truly interpersonal mechanism for the emergence of reciprocity, the building block of social solidarity. We show that we can predict from neural signatures who group members will like five months in the future. Finally, we identify a neural foundation for distinguishing types of relations we have with others.

Reception to follow.


September 28, 2017
4:30 pm
Event Category:


Wisconsin Idea Room
School of Education, 1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI


Dana Rasmussen