The Evolutionary COgnitive Neuroscience (ECON) laboratory investigates the neural architecture of the human prefrontal cortex (PFC) as a vehicle for the emergence of social cognition and its ability to construct representations of the relations between oneself and others, and to use those representations flexibly to guide social behavior.
Aside from an evolutionary approach of social behavior, the ECON lab focuses on understanding more about the specific neural systems in the PFC that subserve various aspects of social cognition. Non-invasive neuroimaging techniques have provided a powerful new tool to investigate the mental and biological dimensions of social cognition in the brain. However, integrating the existing behavioral and neurobiological data into a coherent neuroscience picture remains a challenging enterprise.
By combining techniques from social neuroscience, experimental economics, and social psychology, the ECON lab pursues the following three research lines in studying human social cognition and prefrontal cortex (PFC) functions: The first line of research attempts to comprehend the relationship between cognitive and social functions in the PFC. The second line of research attempts to understand the role of the PFC during cooperative (e.g. trust) and competitive (e.g. aggression) interactions in social groups. The third line of research attempts to answer the question how the PFC mediates social beliefs (e.g. moral, legal, political, religious) in the context of institutions.